December 21, 2012:
26-year-old male Oscar passed away yesterday at Kamogawa Sea World, after fighting an undisclosed illness for a week.

Oscar

Oscar and his tank mate Stella had been captured in October 1987 off Iceland, together with long gone Maggie and Prince. His death leaves Kamogawa without a breeding male, since Bingo had been moved to Port of Nagoya Aquarium a year ago. 

Source: International Whale Protection OrganizationKamogawa Sea World

December 14, 2012:
Morgan has to remain at Loro Parque. A Dutch judge decided that the Dutch government’s decision to move Morgan to Spain was lawful. It has to be seen whether the fight for her freedom will now continue in Spanish courts. Very sad for Morgan, who is constantly being bullied by the other orcas at Loro Parque. But not unexpected, since the judge only looked at the legal aspects, not the moral right to keep her in captivity. 

Sources: The Black FishOrka Coalitie

November 26, 2012:
After a public naming contest Lovey’s calf of this summer has been named Luna. The name reminds one of course of young Southern Resident male Luna (aka L98), who died tragically on March 10, 2006, after spending most of his short life separated from his family in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island. If you have the chance, please watch the beautiful masterpiece that is “The Whale”. Suzanne Chisholm’s and Michael Parfitt’s amazing documentary (formerly called “Saving Luna”) will break your heart but it’s so worth it…

November 13, 2012:
A new Washington State ferry will be named after 46-year-old female Tokitae (aka Lolita), the last surviving captive of the Southern Resident killer whale population. Hopefully this will raise even more awareness for her desperate fight to get out of the minuscule tank at Miami Seaquarium and back into her native Salish Sea waters. Congratulations to Orca Network and everybody else who made this wonderful decision possible!

Source: Save Lolita

November 13, 2012:
26-year-old female Stella gave birth to a female calf this morning. This is Stella’s fifth calf after Lovey, Lara, Sarah (died in 2006) and Ran 2. Here’s a video of the birth.

Source: The Japan Daily Press

November 13, 2012:
The court hearing for Morgan seems to have gone well. A decision by the Dutch judge is expected on December, 13th. Check out the Free Morgan Foundation for a brief summary of the hearing plus Ingrid Visser’s report on Morgan’s condition.

Update November 19, 2012: Loro Parque has announced that Morgan has been tested and found deaf: 

Multiple hearing tests took place last week with experts from the Netherlands Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Study (IMARES), the National Endowment for Marine Mammals (that’s probably Mote Marine Laboratory, ed.) and also the U.S. Office of Naval Research for the U.S. Navy. They carried out tests on Morgan along with some of the other orcas, who reacted to sound but Morgan did not. Loro Parque are now taking advice from specialists in animal behaviour from the Free University of Berlin, who plan to develop new lines of work that will help Morgan communicate with trainers etc. better in the future.

Note: If Morgan is deaf indeed, it could actually be one reason why Morgan is constantly being bullied by her Loro Parque inmates. It’s a dysfunctional group of teenagers anyway and being different is most probably not helpful in such a stressful situation.

November 13, 2012:
There’s a news article connecting Russian orca Narnia with a Seaside Dolphinarium in Nakhodka. This dolphinarium seems to be part of the TINRO research facility, which suggests that she didn’t move at all and it’s simply a correction of the actual holding place’s name. Rumour has it that Narnia will end up in the new Primorsky Aquarium, which is under construction near Vladivostok. According to Russian sources another killer whale was entangled in a net during the capture event and drowned. Regarding a third animal, there are two versions:

1) It safely escaped from the net

2) It was shot, because it created a dangerous situation for the people during the capture. 

Sources: Russian Far East Orca ProjectInterfax Russia

November 13, 2012:
Nakai is slowly recovering from his horrific jaw injury. PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld has been unsuccessful, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture found no wrongdoing. BTW, it’s a sad joke in itself that the Department of Agriculture has the responsibility for marine parks…

Sources: The San Diego Union-TribuneCBS8/KFMB-TV

October 15, 2012:
Following a May lawsuit (see news item further below) filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and PETA, the National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to reconsider its exclusion of Lolita from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of the Southern Resident orcas — the family from which she was taken more than 40 years ago. This might provide an opportunity to get her out of that miserable facility at Miami Seaquarium and into a sea pen in her native waters, either for rehabilitation and release, or for her retirement from the marine park circus.

Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund

October 15, 2012:
Marineland Canada is apparently considering to either get another orca (probably from Russia or Japan) or to send their sole remaining killer whale Kiska to Japan. Here’s the response by Marineland to a guest’s inquiry:

“Dear concerned park guests,

We will not shut down Marineland. We are currently closed for the season and are still in the process of water quality testing and creating better and larger spaces for both marine and land animals. Even so, our future will still be bright, and please look forward to next year, as we have an orca pregnancy. Kiska was AI’ed with a French or Japanese captive orca, and we are looking to send her to live with her relatives in Japan (at Kamogawa Sea World with her nieces, grand-nephew and grand-niece or Port of Nagoya with her brother and niece), or for orcas to come to MarineLand. We’d like to say that her twin pregnancy, with Ikaika was unsuccessful as it was a false pregnancy, and she is now 5 months along her official pregnancy since June 2012. In conclusion, we would love you all to come next year, and look forward to future developments, including new habitats and better experiences for guests and the welfare of our animals!

Sincerely,

The MarineLand Team.”

So far this statement has not been confirmed, hence I treat it as a rumour. Earlier this month a large crowd had stormed the park to protest against the continuing mistreatment of animals at Marineland Canada.

Update October 18, 2012: Apparently Kiska is in a worse condition than we thought, her tail bleeding on and off since July: Toronto Star.

Update November 19, 2012: Some more information about Marineland’s attempt to get another orca: Toronto Star.

October 15, 2012:
There might be another chance for young female Morgan to regain her freedom after all. November 1st will see a new hearing before the Amsterdam District Court, regarding the earlier decision to send Morgan to Loro Parque on Tenerife, Spain.

Source: Santa Cruz Patch

September 28, 2012:
11-year-old male Nakai has suffered a serious jaw injury at SeaWorld San Diego: 

This looks very painful and also extremely dangerous, considering the threat of an infection. Hopefully Nakai can make it through this! Apparently there were altercations with him and other whales, which led to the injury last week. Unfortunately for poor Nakai you can’t escape aggression in captivity…

Sources: Tim ZimmermannThe San Diego Union-Tribune

September 26, 2012:
According to the Russian Far East Orca Project, this August two orcas had been captured by Sochi Dolphinarium in the Western Okhotsk Sea near Reineke Island. One of them is either dead or released. Another orca was transported to Vladivostok and is now at the TINRO Center (Pacific Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography) near Nakhodka. According to sources, the killer whale is going to be sold abroad. That’s all that is known for now, hopefully more details will emerge soon. The last Russian capture happened in October 2003, in the end killing two orcas. When will those captors ever learn that greed only leads to destruction…

Update September 28, 2012: There are at least three dolphinaria in Sochi. The orca captors belonged to the Sochi Dolphinarium at Adler. Russian Orca has learned that the former owner of the Sochi Dolphinarium was also in the SW Sea of Okhotsk in August trying to capture orcas under permit and in fact managed to corral orcas in the nets, but they slipped over the floats. The new owner of the Sochi Dolphinarium has reportedly sold the orca he successfully captured to the massive aquarium complex opening this year on Russkiy Island, near Vladivostok. The alleged orca offering to foreign buyers may only be a test of the market value. 

Update October 2, 2012: The captured orca is a female, about six years old judging from her size.

Sources: Russian Far East Orca ProjectInternational Whale Protection Organization

September 26, 2012:
SeaWorld has started another appeal of the OSHA ruling. And appears to defy the lower courts ruling, still allowing unrestricted contact between trainers and killer whales.

Source: Death At SeaWorld

August 23, 2012:
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, Orca Network and others have sued the United States Department of Agriculture for renewing the Miami Seaquarium’s federal license to keep killer whales despite the fact that the conditions there are in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. We’ll see whether the USDA finally does its job and makes sure that poor Lolita either gets out of this hellhole or at least gets a larger tank with some shade.

Source: Opposing Views

August 20, 2012:
Shouka is being moved from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Northern California, to SeaWorld San Diego. Six Flags was under pressure because of the illegal solitary confinement of Shouka and has already tried to move her to Marineland Canada in Ontario (see news items below). There are also some rumours flying around regarding the imminent move of several other killer whales to and from SeaWorld San Diego, including one so far unidentified orca from Loro Parque. We’ll see whether those rumours substantiate.

Source: NBC San Diego

August 20, 2012:
On August 3rd ten-year-old female Kohana at Loro Parque gave birth to her second calf Vicky. As with her first calf Adán in October 2010, Kohana immediately rejected her newborn. Like her brother, the poor baby girl now has to be raised by hand. And like her brother, Vicky will probably have a tough time getting accepted by her inmates. The situation at Loro Parque is basically a mess: a lot of young killer whales with no experienced adult to guide them. Add to that already violent mix yet another little girl, Morgan, who was caught in Dutch waters a couple years ago and who is now under constant harassment by the other orcas since the Dutch government sent her to Tenerife. As anyone with basic knowledge about killer whale societies can tell, all of this is a recipe for disaster. Which has already struck in 2009, when trainer Alexis Martinez was killed by Keto on Christmas Eve. For contrast, have a look at the latest addition to the Southern Resident killer whale community, J49, who was born just three days after Vicky. How much more different could their life be?

Source: Island ConnectionsSeattle P-IDigital Journal

August 17, 2012:
Marineland Canada has come under fire by the Canadian Press for the poor treatment of their animals. Owner John Holer has a long and bloody history when it comes to this, look no further than the awful abuse of Junior. Last year SeaWorld had accused the Ontario park for lack of animal care in their lawsuit to get back Ikaika (see 2011 news).

Source: Toronto Star

Update August 24, 2012: Canadian authorities have inspected Marineland, decisions will follow: Niagara Falls Review

July 19, 2012:
Today at about 6 pm local time Lovey at Kamogawa Sea World gave birth to her second calf, slightly earlier than expected. This little girl is Lovey’s second calf after her boy Earth, who was born in October 2008.

Thanks to HaH for the alert!

Sources (incl. video and pictures): Kamogawa Sea World (in Japanese)NHK News (in Japanese)Granvista (in Japanese)Diary of a Cetacean Nerd

July 18, 2012:
SeaWorld has lost its attempt to appeal the recent verdict on a decision by the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission (see below). In relation to this, a new video of Kasatka’s attack on trainer Kenneth Peters in 2006 has surfaced.

Source: Death at SeaWorld

July 18, 2012:
Young female Shouka has attacked a trainer at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA. Six Flags has responded by placing the trainers at a spot where they are standing behind bars. It is not known whether the trainer was injured. Already Six Flags had come under fire regarding Shouka because she is currently kept alone without any kind of animal companion, which is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Source: Without Me There Is No You (Blog incl. videos)

June 4, 2012:
A federal judge has upheld most citations by the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission against SeaWorld. This decision basically puts an end to the circus acts at SeaWorld that cost lives and injuries in the past. Hopefully SeaWorld learns to treat killer whales in future with a bit more respect.

Sources: Orlando SentinelThe Orca Project

May 30, 2012:
A major book on SeaWorld and killer whales in captivity will be published on July, 17th; titled “Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity” and written by David Kirby

May 24, 2012:
Loro Parque has declared that young female Morgan is at least partially deaf. Rumours had been flying around regarding this issue for the past weeks. There has been no independent confirmation of this health statement. Don’t be surprised if SeaWorld now offers to take Morgan to “provide the best possible care in the world”…

Sources: Orka Coalitie

May 22, 2012:
Six Flags California is trying to move 19-year-old female Shouka to Marineland Canada. Since Shouka is only on breeding loan from Marineland Antibes and therefore doesn’t belong to Six Flags, the actual owners are not happy with Six Flags’ actions. More here!

Six Flags is already under fire because Shouka has been on her own for more than six months after a dolphin was removed from the tank. Here’s a petition to stop this solitary confinement!

May 16, 2012:
Fascinating video footage has surfaced from the 1971 Penn Cove capture that ended life in freedom for young killer whales Kandu 2, Kandu 3 and Kona. Four more orcas drowned during the capture. All in all the Southern Resident killer whale community lost a total of 45 members through these kind of captures, a loss that is still hurting the current endangered population. Warning: some images and expressions are not for the faint hearted!

May 16, 2012:
There might be a second chance for young female Morgan to regain her freedom after all. The Orka Coalitie is trying to prove that the Dutch Ministry is legally obliged, by international law, to do her very best to release this orca back into the wild, and that in Morgan’s case this has not been done.

Sources: Orka Coalitie

May 16, 2012:
A federal judge has dismissed a Lolita lawsuit over timing technicalities. ALDF, PETA and a couple individuals had sued the US Government for not protecting Lolita as it (at least theoretically) protects other members of the Southern Resident killer whale community.

Source: The Daily Herald

April 13, 2012:
As was to be expected, Morgan is having problems after her controversial transfer to Loro Parque in Spain. She keeps getting abused by her tank mates and shows deep laceration wounds.

Sources: DutchNews and WDCS.

Note: This sad development doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with orcas. The patchwork group at Loro Parque lacks stability because there is no adult female, which is the core of every killer whale community. Unfortunately Morgan is now paying the price for the Dutch authorities’ misjudgement.

February 28, 2012:
As advertised earlier, Keet has now been moved from SeaWorld San Antonio, Texas, to SeaWorld San Diego, California:

“Keet, a killer whale who has been moved multiple times, re-joined SeaWorld San Diego on Monday from sister theme park SeaWorld San Antonio. The killer whale was flown in a tank from Texas to Lindbergh Field aboard a C-130 cargo plane, according to a SeaWorld representative. The whale and a team of logistics personnel, animal care specialists and veterinarians arrived between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. After arriving, Keet was transferred from the airport to SeaWorld on the back of a large flat-bed semitruck. It took about two hours to drive slowly to SeaWorld and to transfer him to a large tank. Another killer whale, a 40-year-old female named Corky, watched the entire process. She was determined to find out more about her new tank mate being lowered in — a tank that Keet has been in before. The 7,000-pound, 19-year-old whale, was born at SeaWorld San Antonio and transferred to San Diego in 1999. In early 2000, he was sent to SeaWorld Aurora, Ohio. The next year he was sent back to San Diego, where he stayed until he was transferred to San Antonio in 2004. Now, he is back in San Diego.”

Source: 10 News San Diego (incl. short video) 

Note: That’s already the fifth major transfer for poor Keet in 13 years. I really wish SeaWorld would keep the shipping of orcas at a minimum, social stability is of the utmost importance for killer whales.

February 08, 2012:
Judge dismisses PETA ‘slavery’ suit over SeaWorld’s orcas.

Source: USA Today

Note: not much of a surprise here, extending constitutional protection to animals was very unlikely to happen.

January 27, 2012:
SeaWorld has notified the National Marine Fisheries Service sometime before November 2, 2011 of its intention to move young male Keet from Texas to SeaWorld San Diego in California. No further details known.

Sources: Tim ZimmermannCandace Calloway Whiting

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