December 8, 2018:
Morgan’s two-month-old calf has sustained an injury to her jaw. The calf did not sustain this injury from another orca but possibly from scraping on gates or the bottom of the tank.

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December 7, 2018:
A court judge has ruled the permits used to capture the Whale Prison’s 11 killer whales and 90 beluga whales earlier on this year were invalid making the captures illegal!

Source: Free Russian Whales 

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November 20, 2018:
Following the illegal capture of 90 belugas and 11 orcas, the State Expert Commission of Rosprirodnadzor confirmed that the 2019 Russian capture quota has been denied. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for belugas and orcas was found to be completely unjustifiable and considered excessively high by experts.

In addition, the expert committee recommended to only approve capture permits under scientific purposes and exclude captures for cultural and educational purposes. This is very important as it means even if the TAC materials are resubmitted to the State Environmental Review, neither orcas or belugas will be captured for use in dolphinariums. The good news doesn’t end there. A new law has been approved to ban the export of captured animals to other countries.

​Source: Free Russian Whales

November 16, 2018:
After a two-month-delay, Shanghai Haichang Polar Ocean Park has finally opened to the public and debuted its killer whale show. The new marine park features four killer whale calves who were captured from the Sea of Okhotsk in 2015.

​Source: Attractions Management

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November 15, 2018:
Genetic testing has confirmed the 11 killer whales captured near the Shantar Islands off the north western shore of the Sea of Okhotsk are part of Russia’s transient population which numbers as few as 200 individuals, if not less. Taking such large numbers of calves from small populations has proven disastrous in the past, contributing to the listing of one population as endangered.

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October 31, 2018:
A recent veterinary inspection by government authorities has revealed that 90 beluga whales and 11 killer whales are currently being held captive in Srednyaya Bay, Russia. The whales are currently being housed in converted aviaries and arrived in the bay between July 16 and October 21, shortly after they were captured. Over the past few years killer whales and beluga whales have been hunted in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Amur estuary, between Sakhalin and the mainland, under the guise of “cultural and educational” purposes. However, the true purpose of these captures is to sell the animals into the marine park trade where they are deemed highly valuable assets.

Source: Free Russian Whales

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October 28, 2018:
Katina, a 42-year-old female orca at SeaWorld Orlando, has some discolouration on her side which trainers appear to be treating with cream. View here!

IN OTHER NEWS

Long Gone Wild, a new documentary coming in 2019, picks up where Blackfish left off. It covers seaside sanctuaries, the Whale Sanctuary Project, Russian orca captures, and cetacean captivity in China. Here’s a trailer!

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October 18, 2018:
There is suspicion that Narnia, a 12-year-old orca at Moskvarium, is pregnant. Judging from recent photos of her this could very well be possible. 

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October 17, 2018:
The latest effort to free Lolita, the last southern-resident killer whale from Washington state waters still alive in captivity, has been rejected by a federal appeals court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a decision Tuesday rejected a petition to reopen a lawsuit over the treatment of Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium, where she lives in the country’s smallest orca aquarium.

Source: Seattle Times

October 12, 2018:
Morgan has been separated from her newborn calf following concerns that he/she is struggling to nurse. The separation occurred as quickly as 24 hours after the calf’s birth. Loro Parque have blamed this on Morgan’s “low milk production”, with no mention or exploration of her undoubtable inexperience and the impact this can have on raising a calf.

September 22, 2018:
Morgan, an 11-year-old killer whale, has given birth at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. According to the official statement the calf is healthy and Morgan attended to her newborn immediately, demonstrating ideal maternal behaviour.

Ula and Morgan

While Loro Parque insist everything is going well, the first video of Morgan and her newborn has raised some concerns. Baby M, as we’ll call him or her until a name is released, appears to be trying to nurse from Morgan’s belly button rather than her mammary glands which are located on either side of her genital slit. This is rather concerning as it may suggest the calf is struggling to nurse properly. If so, trainers will have to temporarily separate Morgan from her calf and try to bottle feed him/her.

Source: Dolphinaria-Free Europe

September 8, 2018:
Two orcas were captured on August 17th in the Sea of Okhotsk – a third orca was apparently killed during the capture process. It’s unclear if this details additional information about the capture on August 6th or whether this is a separate capture.

August 18, 2018:
It appears that Katina, SeaWorld Orlando’s matriarch, has sustained yet another injury. According to a trainer, the injury was the result of Trua, Katina’s grandson, “displaying dominance”. The injury is yet another example of excessive aggression in captivity and how social behaviours are detrimentally altered in confinement.

August 6, 2018:
Two young orcas have been captured near Nikolai Bay in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia. Activist group “Ocean Friends” attempted to film the capture operation but they were threatened with firearms by the fishermen and their camp was ravaged.

​Source: Erich Hoyt

August 4, 2018:
Thomas Cook, one of the UK’s largest tour operators, will stop selling tickets to SeaWorld and Loro Parque due to welfare concerns over their confinement of killer whales. All mention of the tourist attractions will be removed from Thomas Cook’s travel sites and costumer brochures. For SeaWorld Orlando, the new policy means a loss of 10,000 ticket sales.

​Source: BBC News 

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July 8, 2018:
Inouk, a 19-year-old male at Marineland Antibes, has sustained an injury to his dorsal fin. When questioned, staff responded with “It’s quite normal. Indeed, in such a small tank, orca can’t run away to avoid conflicts, as they would, free”.

​View photo here!

June 11, 2018:
Recent photos of Narnia and Nord at Moskvarium in Russia show their sides covered in what appears to be patches of raw, bloodied skin. It’s not clear how they sustained such injuries but it could have been caused by aggressive altercations or rubbing against the steel gates.

​Click here to see some photos: Salovalexander (photo 3, 5, 7 & 10)  and Mikhailmironovvu (IG) ​

May 4, 2018:
The very first photo of Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park’s killer whales has been posted online! The Chinese marine park was announced back in 2012 and will feature four wild-caught killer whales. Its grand opening is set for September 28, 2018.

April 6, 2018:
Dominant female Katina suffered a severe injury to her dorsal fin while interacting with her tank mates at SeaWorld Orlando. The exact details of the incident are not known. She’s currently separated from some of the other orcas to receive treatment for her wound, but is together with her younger offspring Nalani and Makaio. It has to be seen what this development means for her status within the group.

Click here to see photos of her injury!

Source: Orlando Sentinel

February 27, 2018:
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has resigned amid continuing attendance declines. Hopefully that doesn’t change their promise to fade out SeaWorld’s killer whale breeding programme…

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

February 2, 2018:
The Florida Orca Protection Act has been dropped by the House of Representatives and the Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee following intervention from SeaWorld. The marine park giant had three lobbyists register to advocate against the bill, hounding representatives in the process. The bill aimed to prohibit the breeding and theatrical performances of killer whales in captivity in Florida. While this news is disheartening, it confirms SeaWorld were not genuine when they ended their breeding programme as they seek to prevent their decision being grounded in law.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

January 27, 2018:
Malia, a killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando, has developed a significant amount of discolouration on her skin (click here to see a photo). Her condition follows the introduction of four pilot whales to Shamu Stadium, one of whom has recently contracted an infection in her fluke. Malia’s discolouration first became noticeable in December 2017.

SeaWorld has claimed her discolouration is “similar to what wild whales experience when they travel through colder waters”, suggesting her condition has been caused by a change in temperature at Shamu Stadium. With this claim, SeaWorld is referring to how orcas in Antarctica are stained yellow/brown due to the high concentrations of algal diatoms in the frigid water. This is NOT applicable to Malia for several reasons:

1) Algal diatoms affect orcas in the freezing cold waters of Antarctica where the water temperature is far colder than it is at Shamu Stadium, especially since the water temperature was raised to better suit the four pilot whales. 

2) Antarctic killer whales migrate to warmer waters to slough off their old, diatom-ridden skin. Malia did not have the “diatom” condition prior to the increase in water temperature and, if she did, it would have improved her skin condition, not worsened it. 

3) The filtration systems at SeaWorld should prevent high concentrations of algal diatoms to keep the water clear. 

4) ALL of the orcas at SeaWorld Orlando would have the same discolouration if it was due to diatoms (just like how entire pods of Antarctic orcas are discoloured), not just Malia.

SeaWorld are clearly lying about Malia’s condition and the lack of updates regarding her health is worrying. Fortunately, Voice Of The Orcas has provided a far more feasible explanation. They’ve suggested Malia’s discoloration is a phototoxic reaction to medication. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual Piece, phototoxicity tends to attack areas that lack pigmentation, like the “white skin” of a killer whale. Phototoxic reactions are typically “dose dependent” and increase in severity as the dose increases. Clearly whatever Malia is being treated for has developed some resistance, resulting in the dosages being increased and her skin becoming ever more discoloured.  

Worryingly, phototoxic lesions can become a host for a secondary bacterial or fungal infection, which can lead to use of more medications. Over time, chronic antibiotic and steroid use can weaken immunity and even cause immune systems to collapse, as seen with Kasatka and Tilikum. Hopefully Malia does not meet the same fate.

Source: Voice of the Orcas

January 26, 2018:
New photos of have been added to the gallery for Chimelong Ocean Kingdom’s killer whales!

January 19, 2018:
The Florida Orca Protection Act, which would ban the breeding and theatrical performances of killer whales in captivity, has been officially introduced to the Florida House of Representatives and the Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee. However, it has recently been revealed that SeaWorld officials have been meddling with efforts to make the Florida Orca Protection Act law, discouraging former Rep. Alex Miller from filing the bill in 2016. Their discouragement continued when officials met up with Rep. Ben Diamond last month after he sent the bill to drafting. According to Diamond, their lack of support was clear. SeaWorld’s attempts to squash the bill suggest they desire the option to reverse the breeding ban in the future which is very worrying, particularly as wild capture operations in Russia have dramatically increased the captive gene pool.

Source: WDC

January 12, 2018:
Japan’s Port of Nagoya Aquarium and China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom plan to collaborate on their breeding programs, with the focus on artificial insemination: 

“Port of Nagoya Aquarium will launch the nation’s first collaborative research for breeding of killer whales this year. Since international criticism of Taiji, it has been difficult to obtain wild individuals to expand the gene pool and the fear of the disappearance of killer whales from Japanese aquariums in emerging. Basic research is expected to be completed by the year 2020 and we aim to realise breeding by artificial insemination with the goal to cooperate with a Chinese aquarium. In order to obtain new lineage, the Aquarium seeks cooperation with the world’s largest aquarium in China and Macao, Zhuhai Ocean Kingdom, considering frozen sperm and trying artificial insemination at Nagoya.”

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun – article seems to be no longer available

IN OTHER NEWS

After a short absence from shows due to swallowing part of a pool cover, Narnia has returned to performing.