December 30, 2014:
There are now three killer whales in Moscow. Narnia and Nord have been transferred to their final destination at the VDNKh exhibition center. An additional orca has joined them, a young female called Juliet. Considering her small size, she appears to be one of this year’s captures.​

Note: apparently the last remaining orca from the 2014 capture has also been send to an unknown facility in China.

Sources: Behind the aquarium glass and News of Russia

December 10, 2014:
CNN has a very interesting story about former orca catcher Jeff Foster, including some never before seen video footage of the captures in Iceland.​

Source: CNN

December 3, 2014:
10-year-old Kalia gave birth yesterday to her first calf at SeaWorld San Diego. The gender of the calf has not been announced, its father is probably Ulises via artificial insemination.​

Source: ABC 10 News

Note: turns out it’s a baby girl.

November 18, 2014:
Kamogawa Sea World and Port Of Nagoya Aquarium are collaborating with SeaWorld on artificial insemination to reduce the effect of a very small gene pool within their captive breeding programs.

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun

November 7, 2014:
It has now been confirmed that the two killer whales in Moscow have already been kept at a temporal facility since December 2013. Narnia and the newly named Nord are to be transferred to their final destination at the VDNKh exhibition center in December. Public display will start next summer. Russian authorities checked the facilities after public complaints but found no illegal doing. Which is not surprising, considering the dismal state of animal welfare in Russia.

Sources: The Moscow Times, Behind the aquarium glass

Video of Narnia and Nord in their holding tank: Youtube

September 9, 2014:
Erich Hoyt and the Russian Orca Project report that two more orcas have been taken in Russia, making it so far a total of four captures this summer:

“Russian orca capture activities move into high gear: In recent days we can now confirm more details about orca capture activities in the Okhotsk Sea. Two orcas removed from the wild in mid-July, already reported, have since been shipped to China. Now we have learned that two more orcas were captured in late July. Are these captures legal? Order RPN 4 August 2014 from the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency granted a quota of up to 10 killer whales that could be taken from the Okhotsk Sea for the year 2014, but this order came after the captures. These and other issues will be discussed on 22nd September at the Russian Marine Mammal Biennial Conference in St Petersburg, where there will be a roundtable on the business of orca captures in Russia. We’ll report more about that meeting in a couple weeks. To date, the fate of the two newly captured orcas is unknown.”

​Sources: Russian Orca ProjectErich Hoyt

Notes: There is some more information on the new facility in Moscow. It is still a bit unclear whether two whales have merely been sold to Moscow or whether they have already been moved to a place there. There is also news that the Seaside Dolphinarium / TINRO in Valdivostok, Russia, is bidding about 200,000 USD for a young killer whale to be captured for them. Obviously Russia has become a free-for-all when it comes to taking orcas from the wild…

August 9, 2014:
Erich Hoyt and the Russian Orca Project report that two orcas have been taken in an illegal capture in Russia:

“We have news today that two killer whales were captured in recent weeks in Nikolaya Gulf, in the southwestern Sea of Okhotsk, the Russian Far East. The captors are reporting that the orcas were actually taken in 2013 and spent the winter in Nikolaya Gulf. This is impossible because the Gulf is completely frozen in winter. Word is that the orcas are being transported toward Komsomolsk-on-Amur, 356 km NE of Khabarovsk. Final destination is unknown. “These captures appear to be illegal,” says Erich Hoyt, WDC research fellow and co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project which has been studying orcas in the Kamchatka area for 15 years. “No quotas have yet been issued for orca captures in 2014, following disagreements between the Russian Federal Fisheries and the scientific advisory board in Russia who recommended zero captures. Without a quota which is necessary to get a permit, the captures would be illegal.”

Sources: Russian Orca ProjectErich Hoyt’s WDC blogDodo

Update: Russia has now issued a quote for 10 captures in 2014. See Erich Hoyt’s WDC blog for more information.

August 9, 2014:
Sandra Pollard has written a great book (Puget Sound: Whales for Sale – The Fight to End Orca Hunting) on the early killer whale captures in US waters.

Highly recommended to learn what the foundation of places like Sea World was and to what terrible cost for the wild orca populations it came.

August 2, 2014:
31-year-old male Bingo, also known as Thor, has passed away at Port Of Nagoya Aquarium. He had been suffering from a pneumonia-like illness since last December.


Bingo had been captured at about age 2 off Iceland in November 1984, together with Freyja/Patty, Junior, Kandu 7 and an unnamed young male (all of them deceased some time ago). That leaves Port of Nagoya with 27-year-old female Stella and her two offspring Ran 2 and Rin / Lynn.

Source: Port of Nagoya Aquarium

August 2, 2014:
37-year-old female Kiska at Marineland Ontario appears to be in bad shape. Suffering with teeth problems, a disintegrating dorsal fin and what appears to be a significant depression behind her blowhole, cetacean advocates believe that the solitary orca, who has spent the last 35 years in captivity at Marineland, Canada, is very sick. Doesn’t sound good for poor Kiska…

Source: Digital Journal

August 2, 2014:
The Miami Seaquarium has been issued a $7,000 fine for allowing trainers to work with an orca without a physical barrier. The citation, issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is considered “serious.” OSHA says trainers worked with a killer whale in a pool and from the side of a pool without using physical barriers. OSHA has required physical barriers between trainers and killer whales, or that trainer maintain a safe distance from the orcas, since an administrative judge ruled in a SeaWorld case.

Source: CBS

June 13, 2014:
On Wednesday the U.S. Congress unanimously passed an amendment that will force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update their rules that protect captive orcas and other marine mammals. Especially Lolita might benefit from this, since her tank at Miami Seaquarium is disgustingly inadequate. But the bill also increases the pressure on SeaWorld to reconsider their business model.

Source: The Dodo

June 11, 2014:
Voice of San Diego recently held a public roundtable about what SeaWorld and “Blackfish” mean for San Diego. It turned out to be a very interesting and lively debate. Here’s a few links to a review and the complete event, which I highly recommend to watch:

Source: Orcinus blogBrittany Isse

To comment on a specific question during the debate: Skyla was exactly 2 years and 4 days old when SeaWorld separated her from her mother Kalina. Other whales who were separated from their mother at less than 3 years old include: Katerina, Kayla, Keet and Kohana (more on that issue here).

June 11, 2014:
Here are a couple websites who provide further information about the captive killer whale situation in China and Russia, where a new facility is planned in St. Petersburg for 2017 (which is probably where some of the orcas at Nakhodka are supposed to go to):

Source: China File, Behind the glass of aquarium (on Russia)

May 20, 2014:
31-year-old male Bingo is reported to be in poor health, suffering from inflammation in his lungs and bronchia. According to Port of Nagoya Aquarium, first signs of illness were detected in December last year, with confirmation of fever in early April plus an inflammation-like shadow on the lung in early May. Bingo is also moving rather slow and can no longer participate in the public show. Doesn’t sound good for poor Bingo…

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun

May 7, 2014:
The Russian Orcas Project has received the official reply from Rosrybolovstvo (Russian Fisheries Agency) about orcas captured in 2013. The Russian authorities confirmed that 6 orcas were captured: five by “Sochinsky Delphinariy” LLC and one by “Belyi Kit” LLC (“White whale”). They did not specify the age and sex of the captured orcas, neither the dates they were captured.

Source: Russian Orcas

Note: the one whale caught by “Belyi Kit” LLC is presumably the young male that went to Moscow

Correction: In late 2014 the Russian Orcas Project declared that the actual number of orcas caught in 2013 had been 5, as originally assumed. Apparently the Russian authorities got the number wrong, no surprise there as they don’t know what they’re doing anyway…

April 23, 2014:
9-year-old Kalia is pregnant, apparently due around December 2014. Ulises is rumoured to be the father through artificial insemination (AI). This means that Kalia was merely eight years old when SeaWorld AI’d her. There were (or maybe still are) plans to transfer Kalia to SeaWorld San Antonio, which would separate her from her mother Kasatka. One can only hope that SeaWorld doesn’t proceed with such an insane move (which, despite their press releases, they have done an awful lot of). Kalia needs all the help she can get, being forced into pregnancy at such a young age…

Source: Digital Journal

Note: In the article it is acknowledged publicly for the first time that Takara at SeaWorld San Antonio had a miscarriage in March 2012 (she had been AI’d with Kshamenk’s semen in July 2011).

April 23, 2014:
SeaWorld treats some of its marine mammals with psychoactive drugs, according to a judicial document. Trainers give their orcas the psychoactive drug benzodiazepine, according to the sworn affidavit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a dispute between the park company and the rival company Marineland.

​Source: BuzzFeed

April 16, 2014:
SeaWorld has lost its appeal of safety citations issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Source: CNN

April 2, 2014:
Miami Seaquarium is being sold to a California-based company that is a subsidiary of Spanish theme park operator Parques Reunidos, which owns Marineland France. It will interesting to see what implications this development has for 47-year-old female Lolita, who is currently being held at Miami Seaquarium and who’s future is uncertain after an earlier decision by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Division that proposed a rule that would add Lolita (aka Tokitae) to her extended family’s Endangered Species Act listing.

Source: Miami Herald

March 12, 2014:
California state lawmaker Richard Bloom has proposed legislation that would prohibit marine parks like SeaWorld from using orcas in its Californian shows. The legislation AB2140 has three central objectives: end the use of performing orcas in theme shows, ban captive breeding, and prohibit the import and export of killer whales. Parks would still be allowed to put whales on exhibit in settings similar to aquariums, but not used for performance or entertainment purposes. The legislation would apply to any park in California that provides such entertainment, but SeaWorld in San Diego currently is the only one.

Note: I support the bill, of course, especially the parts about captive breeding, import/export and retirement. We’ll see whether it has a chance to succeed considering the economic power of SeaWorld in Southern California.

Here are the proposed bill and an accompanying fact sheet.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Note: on April 8, the California State Assembly committee did not take a formal vote on AB2140, but agreed to have studies conducted over the next year before revisiting the issue in 2015.

February 25, 2014:
A Dutch court will decide in about six weeks whether 7-year-old female Morgan has to remain at Loro Parque or whether she gets a chance to return back to the wild.

Source: Tim Zimmermann

Note: the court date has been postponed until May.

February 12, 2014:
Some of the orcas captured in Russian waters last year might end up in an Iranian Dolphinarium. Ali Hoshmand, Manager of Kish Dolphin Park, announced that orca will be displayed in Kish Island.​

Source: Government of Iran

Note: some background on the Russian captures by Tim Zimmermann and Themed Reality.

January 29, 2014:
In a reverse decision the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Division proposed a rule that would add 47-year-old female Lolita to her extended family’s Endangered Species Act listing. The consequences of such a rule have to be seen. Obviously it would be marvellous if Lolita were allowed to retire in her native Pacific Northwest waters. But it could also lead to her being transferred to a SeaWorld park instead. Fingers crossed…

Source: Outside Magazine

January 21, 2014:
Two Russian orcas have been moved from Vladivostok to a new marine park in China, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom on Hengqin Island (close to Macau / Hong Kong).

Source: Russian Orcas