November 30, 2006:
Senior trainer attacked by killer whale at SeaWorld San Diego
“SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) — A killer whale at the Sea World theme park grabbed a trainer by the foot and held him underwater during a show Wednesday.
Kasatka, a 30-year-old killer whale who is a veteran of many performances, grabbed the trainer and pulled him underwater, said Mike Scarpuzzi, head trainer at Sea World. Other trainers were able to persuade the whale to surface, allowing the trainer a breath of air, but enacted emergency procedures in place for such instances, Scarpuzzi said.
The other trainers got a net in the pool, and the trainer, who also has years of experience, was able to calm the whale, swim to the other side of the net and get out of the pool, he said. The San Diego Fire Department received a call that the 33-year-old whale trainer was pinned at the bottom of the tank by a whale, said dispatcher Julianna Humphries. The caller said other trainers were attempting to retrieve the man.
Scarpuzzi said there have been no previous serious incidents with Kasatka. “She has not done this particular unwanted behavior to this extent,” Scarpuzzi said. “She has displayed unwanted behavior to some extent. … There are times like this. They are killer whales. She did choose to demonstrate her feelings in a way that was unfortunate.”
Scarpuzzi said he was dismayed that park guests had to witness the incident, which occurred in late afternoon during the “Believe” show. The trainer was taken to a hospital, where officials reported he was in good condition. “That’s the good news we were hoping for,” Scarpuzzi said. He declined to identify the trainer, saying he wanted to make sure his family had been notified of the incident, but said the man had 16 years of training experience, including 12 years with Kasatka.
He said it had not been decided whether Kasatka will perform Thursday. The park has seven whales and rotate them for performances, he said. Trainers are strong swimmers and taught to develop communication and relationship skills with the whales, he said. Using those skills, he said, the trainer was able to calm the whale and end the incident. “It turned out exactly the way we would want it if something like this were to ever happen.”
Check here for the original CNN article including video material.
Note: The trainer roughed up by Kasatka was veteran Ken Peters, who’s had a similar encounter with her in the past. Kasatka, the dominant female at San Diego, is known to be not the most easy orca in captivity. But we can only speculate on what actually caused this incident.
November 20, 2006:
In a surprising transaction SeaWorld has sent young male Ikaika from Orlando to Marineland Ontario, Canada. They also switched whales between Florida and Texas: Kayla was transferred from San Antonio to Orlando, whereas Taku went the other way.
September 22, 2006:
SeaWorld Orlando has a new killer whale, a 7-foot-long, 350-pound calf born Monday afternoon. The unnamed calf and its mother, Katina, are doing well but won’t be immediately on view for the public, SeaWorld officials said Monday. The calf was born at 3:23 p.m. in the park’s multimillion-gallon research and breeding facility, Shamu Stadium, following a 11/2-hour labor. Moments later, the baby whale instinctively swam to the surface for its first breath of air. SeaWorld animal-care specialists are cautiously optimistic. The next important step in the baby’s development is nursing, which typically occurs within the first 24 hours. The gender of the calf won’t be known until it starts swimming apart from Katina. “We’re celebrating today. It’s awesome,” said Laura Surovik, SeaWorld’s assistant curator. “This baby is definitely a healthy, big baby. . . . She or he is already searching to go ahead and nurse.” The newborn is the 14th killer whale born at SeaWorld Orlando, the first since last November.
Source: Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel
Note: This is Katina’s sixth calf after Kalina (born in 1985), Katerina (born in 1988, died in 1999), Taku (born in 1993), Unna (born in 1996) and Ikaika (born in 2002).
Note October 3: According to several reports, Katina’s calf is a female.
September 22, 2006:
Ocean Park Hongkong plans to build a new killer whale stadium, ready by the year 2010. No further details yet.
July 30, 2006:
Marineland Antibes in France has been sold to the Spanish amusement park group Parques Reunidos for about 75 million Euro. Parques Reunidos also ownes L’Oceanogràfic de Valencia on the Spanish mainland, which in the recent past has had some rumours running about the future display of orcas. So far nothing official has been declared but one should keep an eye on further developments.
June 3, 2006:
Loro Parque reopened their Orca Ocean facility after reconstruction and repaint work on the show pool.
May 28, 2006:
Apparently Unna had a stillbirth at SeaWorld San Antonio, Texas, at the end of April. So far the gender of the dead calf is not known, as are more details about the exact date or circumstances.
Note: There are rumours that Nootka 5 at Marineland Ontario might also have lost her unborn child but so far this has not been confirmed.
May 2, 2006:
Killer Whale Calf Moved To Shamu Theater
SeaWorld San Antonio today announced that Halyn, the female killer whale calf born at the marine life adventure park on Oct. 9, was moved to the pools at Shamu Theater. Halyn, now six months old, weighs 778 pounds and is eating 29 pounds of fish daily. “Halyn has shown the steady progress that was necessary for us to make this move,” said Dave Force, vice president of zoological operations at the marine life adventure park. “In the past six months, Halyn has grown and changed. Our team continues to be delighted about her advancements. We consider her move into the community at Shamu Theater an important next step in her growth.”
Since her birth last fall, animal care specialists and trainers have been giving Halyn twenty-four hour care, including bottle feedings of commercial formula every two hours. In the past 30 days, she has progressively eaten more fish and is now fully weaned from bottles of formula. She is weighed regularly and periodic blood samples are being taken to monitor her health. Animal training staff continue to work daily with Halyn to train husbandry behaviors. These are routine procedures like presenting tail flukes for inspection, swimming along a line to take measurements and swimming into a stretcher for periodic weight checks. All SeaWorld killer whales are trained in these procedures as they assist in their physical care.
Halyn will be acclimating in one of the back pools at the Shamu Theater for a period of time, after which she will be introduced to the other killer whales one at a time. There are no immediate plans for Halyn to perform in the park’s new Shamu show, “Believe”.
Note: It will be interesting to see how Halyn’s mother, Kayla, will react to the reintroduction of her daughter.
April 26, 2006:
Sarah has died at Kamogawa Sea World. Apparently Sarah was ill already by May last year but seemed to have recovered around August. Early April her condition deteriorated again and she was put into an indoor tank on April 24th to improve medical access. Unfortunately the almost three year old girl didn’t make it. Sarah, sometimes spelled Sara, last measured about 11 feet and weighed in at 1,322 pounds.
One day earlier, her sister, born this February, was officially named Ran. Which makes her actually Ran 2, since the original Ran lived in Nanki Shirahama Adventure World, Japan, from 1989 to 2004. Stella’s other calves are Lovey and Lara.
April 15, 2006:
Mr. Kazutaka Sangen, Taiji town mayor, announced his plan to capture orcas and send them to Dalian and Beijing for more “scientific research” to improve relations between Japan and China. He expects that the governments of the two countries will permit and support this orca-trade.
The last captures off Taiji in February 1997 had created a public outcry. Only two whales, Asuka and Ku, are still alive from this capture. Please help the Japanese orcas to remain free by sending protest letters to:
- Mr. Kazutaka Sangen, Town Mayor of Taiji
- Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry
- Mr. Teruyuki Komiya & Mr. Ken-ichi Kitamura, Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Mr. Yoshiki Kimura, Governor of Wakayama Prefecture
Please visit www.savetaijidolphins.org for detailed information on this issue. Thank you so much for your cooperation and help.
March 26, 2006:
Loro Parque had to close their new Orca Ocean facility for two months because of problems with the construction.
Update on April 2, 2006: Apparently they have a problem with the construction of the show pool!
March 10, 2006:
L98 Luna has been killed in a boat-strike
Luna was a six-year-old male Southern Resident killer whale who resided in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. He became separated from his family in 2001 and had been a solitary whale ever since. Resident orcas normally spend their entire lives within the pod to which they are born. Luna’s beautiful voice filled the deep reaches of Nootka Sound. If his pod would’ve come near, and they heard one another, the chances of a natural reunion happening were excellent. In the meantime, Luna needed our protection and help. The powers to be thought different.
One of the most important issues under debate was whether Luna should be physically transported or led towards his family using what has been called a ‘soft approach’ or a ‘natural’ reunion.
The Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) believed that Luna embodied the spirit of their deceased Chief Ambrose Maquinna. When Luna arrived in the Chief’s traditional territory of Nootka Sound, he was given the name “Tsux’iit”, in honour of the late Chief.
In June of 2004, DFO and their sub-contractor, Vancouver Aquarium, attempted to capture and relocate Luna. MMFN, who opposed this strategy, succeeded in leading Luna away from the temporary holding pen. A tense standoff between DFO and MMFN continued over the next few days, and eventually led to DFO calling off the plan to move Luna.
Luna’s greatest threat came from people who interacted with him. In the absence of his pod, Luna tended to socialize with boats. Despite the fact that it was illegal for humans to engage Luna, the public were drawn to him. Some people were simply interested in seeing Luna up close, others threatened to kill him.
Time for Luna and his pod was running out.
And on March 10, 2006, time had come:
Luna the orca struck and killed by tug propeller
“GOLD RIVER, British Columbia – Luna, the juvenile killer whale from Washington state waters who got lost in Canada’s Nootka Sound five years ago, apparently died today when he was accidentally struck by a tugboat propeller, Canadian authorities said.
Luna, known to scientists as L-98 and a member of one of Washington state’s three resident orca pods, or family groups, wandered into Nootka Sound on the west side of Vancouver Island in 2001 and stayed. “We don’t know 100 percent but we do believe it’s Luna,” said spokeswoman Lara Sloan with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
No other orcas were know to frequent the sound, she said.
The boat had pulled into sheltered waters near Conception Point to escape rough weather. Luna, known to enjoy playing in boat wakes, “was swimming under the vessel and was hit by a propeller,” Sloan said.
“It was a really big tugboat – 104 feet,” she said.
Although the whale was friendly, he became a nuisance to marine traffic in the area and an attempt was made in 2004 to reunite him with his pod in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Washington state from Vancouver Island.
“The skipper is reported to be greatly distressed,” Sloan said. “He called the coast guard immediately after it happened.”
Source: The Associated Press / The Seattle Times Company
There is an excellent website dedicated to Luna, providing much more information and thoughts.
Picture credits to the equally wonderful Luna Stewardship Project!
February 25, 2006:
Stella gave birth to her fourth female calf at Kamogawa Sea World. The father is Bingo, her other calves are Lovey, Lara and Sarah.
February 15, 2006:
Four SeaWorld orcas were moved to Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain.
Two young males from SeaWorld San Antonio, Texas, Keto and Tekoa, plus two young females from Sea World Orlando, Florida, Kohana and Skyla, were moved to Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain.
Update February 18, 2006: Thank’s to Valérie Meyer for pointing to a Spanish news report of the official presentation (somewhat enhanced automatic translation by Google):
“The presentation act began with more than one hour of delay due to the great affluence of guests whom they did not love to lose the spectacle of orcas. They were a total of 3,000 guests and more than 200 journalists credited to cover the news, waiting for in the municipality of Puerto de la Cruz, as it were the inauguration of the Orcario de Loro Parque, the second greatest one of the planet. The act began with the blessing of the swimming pool and the four orcas on the part of the bishop of Tenerife, Bernardine Alvarez, and the parish priest of the district of Brave End, Antonio Hernandez. After it the founder took the word and proprietor of Loro Parque, Wolfang Kiessling, who was thankful to the zoological center SeaWorld, located in Florida, the collaboration to be able to move the four orcas to Tenerife. “We lived difficult moments as far as the protection on the environment, have destroyed 60 percent of the forests, exitincted many animals. The extinction is madness and it is in that context in which the zoological parks are a good alternative for the conservation and the investigation of the nature”, indicated Kiessling, that he wanted to go out to the passage of the critics made by ecologists concerning the transfer orcas from the United States and its life in captivity. Kiessling declared that “the dolphins in the Loro Parque are happy and he would not sleep calm if he knew that only one animal, under my control, was suffering. These orcas are the third generation in captivity and are going to be all the very happy and cared for their well being”.
The four orcas occupy a swimming pool of 120 meters in length and 12 meters of depth, in where a total of 22 million liters of water is stored. The water is extracted from the Atlantic Ocean out of a depth of 65 meters. The orcas were playful with the visitors who approached the tank to be able to see them close by and they even got to wet them with the movement of their tails. The president of the Government of the Canary Islands, Adam Martín valued the work developed by Wolfang Kiessling since he founded Parrot Park on 1972. ” This installation is very important for the municipality and for the Canary Islands”, he said.
Source: La Opinión de Tenerife
February 11, 2006:
Miami Seaquarium reopened
Miami Seaquariumm reopened on February 11, after being closed due to their loss during hurricane Wilma. The Miami Seaquarium, however, five days before reopening, captured close to 2,000 tropical fish off the coast, then placed them in various tanks. Rattle the Cage productions teamed up with miamiseaprison.com to fly a plane carrying a banner that read, ” Lolita is Dying “. They say that it flew on the day of the reopening, circling the park all day long. They said it was to let ” the patrons and employees know exactly how we feel about them neglecting Lolita “
February 11, 2006:
Orca stranding in Japan
A young male orca has stranded near Katsuura, Japan. The juvenile, measuring about 12 feet and 1500 pounds, is estimated 4 years old. Apparently the animal was too weak to be pushed back to the ocean and has been transported to Kamogawa Sea World.
Update February 13, 2006: Sadly the young male was too weak to recover and died today at Kamogawa Sea World.
February 7, 2006:
Loro Parque will soon display orcas
“An even bigger splash for top Tenerife tourist park
Always looking to add new attractions to add to its already impressive spread, Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, is now set to unveil its latest – and perhaps greatest – wow factor to visitors. If the Planet Penguin exhibit caused a sensation a few years back, then the killer whales currently waiting in the wings are likely to do that and more.
Excitement is building as the date for the opening of the park’s “orcario” approaches. February 17 will see a bevy of VIPs and politicians attending the historic inaugural performance of the massive creatures in their 120 metre long pool. The four black and white orcas already know their stuff, having been raised and trained at the famous Seaworld centre in the USA, where they and their Tenerife carers have been undergoing special training for the past two years while the “orcario” was being built. Ever bigger and better, Loro Parque is an established Puerto de la Cruz institution which refuses to stand still. From modest beginnings back in 1972 with a small show of performing parrots, the attraction has gone from strength to strength. It still houses the biggest collection of parrots in the world, as well as dolphins, sea lions, one of the world’s longest shark tunnels, Europe’s biggest penguin exhibit, gorillas, chimps, tigers and panthers and much more. Something for everyone, in fact. The park lays great store by its educational and breeding programmes and the Loro Parque Foundation is recognised internationally as a force for good in worldwide wildlife conservation.”
© 2006 Tenerife News. All Rights Reserved.
Note: The identities of the four orcas are still unclear.
January 31, 2006:
SeaWorld San Antonio Names Killer Whale Calf
“SeaWorld San Antonio today announced that the female killer whale calf born at the marine life adventure park on Oct. 9 would be named Halyn. The female calf, who continues to grow and thrive under the care of more than fifty SeaWorld animal care specialists and trainers, is now 578 pounds, 7 feet long and has 32 teeth.
“This has been an incredible experience,” said Dave Force, vice president of zoological operations at the marine life adventure park. “In the past three months, Halyn has grown and changed. Our team continues to be surprised and delighted about her advancements. We are so confident in her progress that we are introducing fish and beginning the training process.”
The name, selected by her caretakers, means “unique, unlike any other” and is a name of modern American origin. The team unanimously selected the name as it reflects her origins.
Since her birth last fall, animal care specialists and trainers have been giving Halyn twenty-four hour care, including bottle feedings of commercial formula every two hours. She now eats approximately 14 liters of formula daily. She is weighed regularly and periodic blood samples are being taken to monitor her health.
Animal training staff are working daily with Halyn to train husbandry behaviors. These are routine procedures like presenting tail flukes for inspection, swimming along a line to take measurements and swimming into a stretcher for periodic weight checks. All SeaWorld killer whales are trained in these procedures as they assist in their physical care.
SeaWorld San Antonio’s Entertainment Department connected an audio system from Shamu Stadium to the zoological support area, where the calf currently resides, that allows the calf to hear the sounds of other killer whales. The calf also has a companion female bottlenose dolphin swimming with her in her pool.
This was the first birth for 17-year-old mother whale, Kayla, who measures 18 feet long and weighs approximately 6,000 pounds. This birth increases SeaWorld San Antonio’s killer whale population to eight. Twenty-one killer whales have been born as part of the SeaWorld parks’ breeding programs.”
© 2006 SeaWorld San Antonio. All Rights Reserved.