Tag Archives: killer whale

Orca mom and baby doing well after a rocky start – video shows that more (former) SeaWorld killer whales will be bred

Morgan with her new calf. Credit: Loro Parque

After a worrisome few days in which the whale calf needed supplemental feeding by park staff, the still unnamed baby orca is no longer being bottle-fed. The mother, Morgan, was rescued and rehabilitated in the Netherlands in 2010 before being transferred to Loro Parque, Spain where she was bred with SeaWorld orcas. (The Whale Sanctuary Project has a great summary of how Morgan wound up at a Spanish zoo.)

Ex -SeaWorld representative talks about breeding the whales in Loro Parque – these orcas belonged to SeaWorld until relatively recently. (Published on Mar 30, 2018):

Morgan and her calf update

(From Loro Parque).

Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of the animals in our care. As we updated earlier this week, a team of veterinarians and external consultants has been monitoring the progress of Morgan and her calf around the clock since birth.

The primary focus during these crucial first days has been ensuring the calf is getting all the nourishment it needs. While natural breastfeeding is always the preferred option, Morgan’s milk production has been below what is needed in these first few days. Therefore, the veterinary team has assisted by temporarily bottle feeding the calf while giving Morgan the chance to increase her milk supply.

We are glad to say that mother and calf have now resumed natural breastfeeding and the experts are pleased with the strong bond the pair have developed. With the help of our state-of-the-art facilities and assistance from world-leading experts, the team continues to closely observe the situation to ensure that Morgan and her baby establish a good, healthy and natural feeding routine. However, we are, of course, ready to step in to help if there is the slightest concern that the calf’s nutritional needs are not being met.

We wish to thank everyone who has been in contact with us in these past few days and have been touched by the many messages of support. We will keep you posted with all the latest information as things unfold.

New baby killer whale born to ‘deaf’ mother Morgan, who was once claimed by SeaWorld. UPDATE: Calf’s nursing not going well.

Morgan has been documented repeatedly bashing her head against the side of the gate opening mechanism. (Freemorgan.nl)

Loro Parque now has five orcas that belonged to SeaWorld, along with the Dutch orca Morgan – who SeaWorld bizarrely claimed to own before turning the lot over to this Spanish amusement park. Eventually it was determined that Morgan lost her hearing along the way (it is unknown if she was deaf when stranded or became deaf later) and after a spat with SeaWorld, Loro Parque bred her. (For background on this farce, please see Orca whale Morgan’s fate follows the golden rule: those who have the gold make the rules.)
At this writing, nothing more is known about the calf, or whether a “deaf”, young, mother whale will be able to communicate with the infant. Watch this space for updates.
UPDATE September 24th: From Loro Parque –

The first days in the life of a cetacean are critical and we have all been encouraged by Morgan’s strong maternal instincts and the way she is nurturing and taking care of her calf. Establishing breastfeeding is crucial in this early phase and our team of veterinarians and external consultants are closely monitoring both mother and calf to see that this happens.

Over the first 24 hours Morgan’s milk production has been lower than we would like, meaning it may be necessary to introduce bottle feeding to ensure that the calf is getting the nourishment it needs. We sincerely hope that nature can take its course and that Morgan can feed her calf independently.

However, we are watching the situation carefully and will assist with bottle feeding, if the experts consider that the life of the calf is at risk.

We wish to take this opportunity to say thank you for all the kind messages we have received from all over the world as we celebrate the birth of Morgan’s calf. We will continue to provide updates as they enjoy their first days together.

Background information:  In 2006, SeaWorld sent four orcas from the US on a breeding loan to Loro Parque (in the Spanish owned Canary Islands off the coast of Africa).
From SeaWorld’s Shell Game – Are They Trying to Get the Young Orca That Stranded in Dutch Waters? :

 In his excellent article, Blood in the Water, author Tim Zimmermann gives a thorough and engaging account of the events that led to the death of a trainer by one of SeaWorld’s whales, Keto, in Spain’s Loro Parque amusement park. In the telling of the story, Zimmermann shows that Loro Parque’s orcas were shipped from SeaWorld’s Texas and Florida amusement parks in 2006 to ‘help it [Loro Parque] start Orca Ocean’ and to ‘showcase these remarkable animals’.

Loro Parque’s announcement about the birth:

Loro Parque has good news to share: the orca Morgan that was rescued after being found near dead near the coast of the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands and that forms part of our group of orcas, gave birth to her first calf this morning, which finds itself in a perfect state of health. From the very first moment, Morgan demonstrated to be an exemplary mother attending to her newborn, which is swimming next to its mother in the installations of the ‘OrcaOcean’.
The orca Morgan was rescued at the coast of the Wadden Sea in 2010 and was attended by a team of experts of the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in an effort to help the lost animal, which showed such a severe malnutrition that the animal was only skin and bones. In this moment, Morgan only weighed 430 Kg and the keepers of the Dutch dolphinarium were not sure that the animal was going to survive the first night after its rescue. They, however, were hopeful that with a proper level of care, affection and attention of the care givers, as well as with the adequate nutrition, the animal could make a recovery.
Thanks to all these efforts of the team at Harderwijk, the animal began to recover its weight and strength, and as the Harderwijk installations were not prepared to keep orcas, the Dutch authorities initiated a formal commission to determine the future of the orca Morgan. A group of international and independent experts came to the conclusion that there were only two viable alternatives for the animal: euthanasia or to be kept at an installation of an aquarium that complied with the necessary conditions for this animal species.
At this moment, as Loro Parque had the most modern installations for orcas in existence, the Park was contacted to see if it would accept the animal. Despite all the challenges that this request represented, Loro Parque accepted the petition, thus, avoiding the only other alternative that was left for the animal: the euthanasia.
After a few months at our installations, the orca Morgan adapted to the new conditions and integrated perfectly into the existing group of orcas at Loro Parque. At the same time, it was discovered that the orca suffered a severe hearing deficiency, which was yet another argument to confirm that animal was incapable to survive on her own in nature.
Given this last circumstance, there were a number of questions as to what exactly a delivery would imply for the animal without a hearing capacity. Today, Loro Parque would like to share the great news: the delivery went in a completely normal manner and the first hours after the birth have been developing in accordance with the best expectations.
It is impossible to know the gender of the new calf yet, although the most important issue now is that both, the mother and the calf, find themselves in a perfect state of health. Loro Parque will be informing the public about the development of the situation, and would like to take this opportunity to thank all its visitors from many different parts of the world, the tour operators and all the collaborators in the scientific field for all the support to the Loro Parque mission: to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

Morgan with her new calf. Credit: Loro Parque

Urgent search for the orca J 50 has begun, now missing for several days (13 Sept 2018)

 

NOAA biologists on a previous encounter with the Southern Resident orcas.

From NOAA:

Unfortunately J50 has not been seen in several days of favorable conditions and sightings of her pod and family group, including J16, her mother.
Teams were on the water searching yesterday and are increasing a broad transboundary search today with our on-water partners and counterparts in Canada.
We have alerted the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is a tremendous resource in such situations.
Airlines flying in and out of the San Juan Islands are also on the lookout.
We greatly appreciate all the help and concern. The hotline for stranding reports is 1-866-767-6114.
Further updates at bit.ly/NOAAJ50J35.

The Wild Orca seaplane. – Photo: Lee Zerrilla | AirlineReporter

Update on the sick little wild orca, (J 50) – new treatment plans

Biologists believe that Scarlet (J 50) may have a round worm infection, similar to what another wild calf, Springer (A 73) had when she was found lost in the Puget Sound in 2002. The good news is that Springer was successfully treated and returned to her family of Northern Resident orcas, where she has thrived and has had two calves – hopefully Scarlet will have a similar outcome.

Scarlet (J50) with her sister, Echo (J42)
NOAA Fisheries. Permit number 21368 Credit: Katy Foster

#J50/Scarlet Update (8/17): Test results from the health samples collected from J50/Scarlet are starting to come in from several top laboratories around the country.
The first finding comes from a fecal sample collected last weekend from a group of three J Pod whales: J16/Slick, J42/Echo, and J50/Scarlet. It showed moderate levels of Contracaecum, a nematode parasite that has previously been found in killer whales and other marine mammals.
The worm is not usually a problem in healthy animals. However, in animals that are emaciated or are otherwise compromised, the parasite can penetrate the stomach lining, introducing bacterial infection to the bloodstream, or it can bore into internal organs.
While we cannot be sure the sample came from J50/Scarlet, the veterinary team has updated her treatment priorities to include a dewormer, in addition to an antibiotic. Both have proven successful and safe in other cetaceans.
The treatment should help J50/Scarlet by reducing bacterial and parasitic burdens on her system so she can start regaining the weight she has lost. The whales remain in open waters off the west side of Vancouver Island, beyond the reach of the response teams. 
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other partners continue their watch for signs of J Pod’s return to the more protected waters of the Salish Sea. ” [Media release].

Photo: J50/Scarlet swims near Point Roberts, Wash., on Aug. 10. (Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786.)
 

Another young killer whale on the brink of death may be saved by NOAA’s quick action

NOAA biologists on a previous encounter with the Southern Resident orcas.

From NOAA Fisheries West Coast:

Biologists assess condition of Southern Resident killer whale J50    August 3, 2018
Biologists, veterinarians, and other whale experts took stock on Thursday of what they know about the condition of J50, also known as Scarlet, the juvenile female Southern Resident killer whale that has been seen in poor condition. They also discussed what other information they need to inform next steps.

Sightings indicate that the whale is emaciated and is sometimes lethargic in the water, but still has periods of activity, including feeding. Analysis of a small sample of her breath did not definitively indicate an infection or illness, although it does not rule one out either. The scientists who have observed the whale agreed that she is in poor condition and may not survive.
Endangered Southern Resident killer whales are critically endangered, now numbering only 75 animals, the fewest in more than three decades. NOAA Fisheries has been working with partners to implement an action plan addressing the three main threats to the whales: availability of prey, vessel traffic and noise, and contaminants.
Experts agreed during a conference call on August 2nd to focus efforts over the next few days on obtaining better photographs of the whale and conducting a veterinary health assessment to better track her condition and evaluate a white patch behind her blowhole that may be a symptom of infection. They will also try to obtain fecal samples and possibly a breath sample if there is an opportunity, which could help identify the cause of her condition. That would better inform a decision on whether biologists could or should take any further action to help or treat the whale.
The experts on the call convened by NOAA Fisheries will confer again as new information is collected over the next few days. We will continue to provide updates as they are available.

 

Scarlet (J50) loved to breach when she was healthy and once breached 60 times in a row. She is small for her age, and now appears emaciated.  Photo courtesy of Clint Rivers Showtime Photography.

Grieving mother whale is now on her third day of carrying her dead calf – the face of extinction

Now on her third day of carrying her dead calf, the mourning of the Southern Resident killer whale, Tahlequah (J35) has reached hearts the world over. Her palpable grief over the loss of her newborn baby is something we all relate to, even though humanity is just beginning to acknowledge that animals suffer and grieve as we do.
This orca family is showing us what it really means for a species to go extinct – we tend to think of the path to extinction in clinical terms that we show graphs…but the real process is painful, and for these whales it is the mothers that die giving birth and the babies that fail to thrive that are racking up the biggest losses.
Photo credit:  Center for Whale Research
They have been hit hard over the last few years.

In the fall of 2016, Tahlequah’s sister (Polaris J28) succumbed to complications thought to be related to the birth of her last calf, Dipper (J54). Her death left her calves, six year old Star (J46) and ten month old Dipper, orphaned but not alone. Tahlequah helped them find food – she had brought salmon to Polaris, and now she helped Star care for Dipper. 

Dipper was still milk-dependent and continued to lose weight even though they brought him pieces of salmon. As he neared death, Tahlequah and other family members helped Star keep Dipper afloat until inevitably he took a final breath, lost consciousness, and disappeared below the surface, joining Polaris in an untimely death.

Photo credit: Mark Malleson               Star cradled her dying brother, helped in these photos by her cousin Notch (J 47) on the other side.

                           As Dipper’s energy faded, Star and their cousin Notch had held him afloat on the surface, easing his struggle to breathe.
The tragic losses that have devastated this orca family parallel what scientists have discovered about the severe consequences of food shortage, consequences that interact with contaminants and anthropogenic noise to blossom in a deadly suite that even survivors like Tahlequah and Star may not be able to withstand.

The family bonds are strong – Star is now reported to be helping the grieving Tahlequah keep the dead neonate at the surface – and the Southern Resident orcas may still recover if Chinook salmon populations are allowed to rebound.

But the incomprehensible lack of action by our government is confining them to a long, drawn out, painful path to extinction. Without more salmon they will suffer hunger, but that pain is eclipsed by the suffering when family members die.
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Regrettably, approximately 75% of newborns in the recent two decades following designation of the Southern Resident killer whale (orca) population as “Endangered” have not survived, and 100% of the pregnancies in the past three years have failed to produce viable offspring.

We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018. The newborn whale was reported alive and swimming with its mother, J35, and other members of J pod near Clover Point on the Victoria shoreline in mid-morning.

A Center for Whale Research team was on the water in Haro Strait at the time and immediately responded to photo-document the newborn calf for the long-term census study we maintain for the US and Canadian governments. Unfortunately, by the time the CWR crew arrived on scene, the newborn calf was deceased, and the pod had traveled several miles eastward of the reported sighting location.

The baby’s carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the mother who was supporting it on her forehead and pushing it in choppy seas toward San Juan Island, USA. The mother continued supporting and pushing the dead baby whale throughout the day until at least sunset.

A resident of San Juan Island near Eagle Cove reported: “At sunset, a group of 5-6 females gathered at the mouth of the cove in a close, tight-knit circle, staying at the surface in a harmonious circular motion for nearly 2 hours. As the light dimmed, I was able to watch them continue what seemed to be a ritual or ceremony. They stayed directly centered in the moonbeam, even as it moved. The lighting was too dim to see if the baby was still being kept afloat. It was both sad and special to witness this behavior. My heart goes out to J35 and her beautiful baby; bless it’s soul.”

Killer whales and dolphins have been known to support and transport their dead calves for as long as a week – a testament to the amazingly strong mother/offspring bond and caring.

 

This enchantingly adorable wild killer whale calf befriended and pranked people for years. (Video)


When Fisheries tried to lure Luna into a netted pen, people watched him push the boat into the pen instead.
On its surface, Luna’s story is about an impish lost killer whale and the people who cared deeply about his welfare, yet the deeper message it delivers is that we can – and maybe should – have an entirely different relationship with the social and intelligent animals that share our world.
He was a whale who showed us that he ‘got’ us, who found eye contact with us invaluable and refused the dead fish (along with some snacks and fruit) offered to him:

Was Luna fed by humans when he lived in Nootka Sound?

People sure tried to give him goodies. They threw him chocolate and oranges. Even vegetables. He spit out anything he couldn’t play with.
Fisherman would sometimes toss Luna dead fish from their fishing lines, and he’d carry them around, sticking out the side of his mouth like cigars. But he didn’t seem to eat them. He was wild, and he clearly preferred hunting for live fish.
That’s what made his efforts to make contact with us so unusual. It wasn’t for food, so why did he do it? The only answer that seems to make sense is that without his family around he was, in some way different but perhaps in some way the same as us, lonely. Somehow maybe he thought we could be friends. And a lot of people thought the same thing. The Whale

Groups and individuals clashed or coalesced in an effort to do the right thing for the lost young whale, and government officials tried their best to do what they thought was right as they weighed risks for everyone.
The more Luna was ignored the more he amused himself with boats and seaplanes or whatever else caught his attention, and by time the government decided to net him and transport him back to his home waters he seemed to think it was a game.

 
In the years since Luna came to live and play among the people in Nootka Sound, his whole clan – the Southern Resident orcas – has struggled to survive. Recently Crewser (L 92) disappeared, and the Center for Whale Research now reports that four-year-old Scarlet (J 50) is very thin and may not survive. Their situation is growing desperate.
We’re running out of time to help these precious whales, and if they abandon the region or go extinct they will take their culture with them, a culture that includes an interest in the humans that share their waterways.
The video below recounts Luna’s adventures, and was made by The Whale filmmakers prior to the final version. (25 minutes).

 


[hdnfactbox title=”More About Luna”]
September 19, 1999: Luna is first seen with his mother, Splash (L 67) only hours after being born and is given the number L 98.
In a highly unusual situation, Luna is then seen with Kiska (K 18) who had recently given birth to a stillborn, and for a period of weeks alternates between the two females, possibly nursed by both. It is unknown if this situation is related to his eventually becoming lost, since K pod and L pod don’t always forage together. (Center for Whale Research).
 In 2001: Luna failed to return with his family and is thought to have died. A lone orca calf is discovered in Nootka Sound, and is identified as Luna, although this isn’t publicly announced.

This killer whale imitates human words – hear her speak here

Whale learns to speak words. blog.seattlepi/candacewhitingHot from the presses is the news that Wikie, a captive orca in Marineland Aquarium, Antibes, France, has learned to mimic human language.  The scientific study is well conceived and thoroughly done (please see the abstract at the end of this article), and essentially was done to validate that orcas can learn dialects from both conspecifics and humans.
But the benefit to the whales may lie in having something novel to occupy their time.

As you listen to the full sequence of sounds in the link above you’re likely to experience wonder, curiosity, and amusement – it’s a challenge to form words through a blowhole after all and the less than successful attempts sound like noises that could have been made by eight year old kids at a sleepover.
But just challenging the whale at least gives her something to do besides tricks.
Ask any former cetacean trainer why they walked away from their dream jobs, and somewhere in the list of reasons will be the frustration of trying to do right by the animals in their care. The shackles imposed by training regimes designed to get captive whales and dolphins to perform precise tricks and maneuvers curtail innovation, and innovation is exactly what is needed to keep highly intelligent animals mentally stimulated.
The whales are told what to do, and are rewarded when they do it correctly. They also have structured play time and enrichment activities during the day, but what about at night? Cetaceans don’t sleep for long stretches so how do they entertain themselves in the sterile tank environments?
In the early 80’s with the help of  Steve Leatherwood I submitted two ideas to SeaWorld designed to improve the lives of the captive cetaceans. One idea was to cover the tank walls with the coating that submarines used to absorb sound, and the second was to introduce a ‘busy box’ that could be placed where the whales could push paddles and ‘request’ an activity of their choice. SeaWorld’s polite reply thanked me for the suggestions and basically indicated that it would go in their future file (obviously it meant their circular file).
Little changed over the decades, until Blackfish and Voice of the Orcas emerged and forced the captive industry to change by increasing public awareness of the animals’ plight. Since then, many changes have been made by theme parks in the care of their animals and heartening progress has been developed towards conservation, rescue and rehabilitation…but still, there’s not much for the whales to do most of the time.
While two-way conversations with cetaceans may happen in the future, it won’t be by asking them to speak human language since our languages vary, and accents, intonations, syntax etc are difficult to process, let alone mimic. Cetacean brains are different, the context for communication varies, and in in the water medium where they evolved sound behaves differently.
That said, there is no reason why whales and dolphins can’t learn to understand words and context – for instance dogs are good at understanding words, and attach meaning to what they hear. A riding instructor I knew had to spell out what she wanted the riders to do because the lesson horses understood the basic commands (walk, trot, canter) and would go into the gaits before the students could cue them.
Anything done with kindness to help animals in captivity is worthwhile, at least until the era of keeping them captive has passed into history. Hopefully this study will give theme parks new ideas to make their charges lives meaningful in the interim.
The study:

Abstract

Imitation of novel conspecific and human speech sounds in the killer whale (Orcinus orca)

Vocal imitation is a hallmark of human spoken language, which, along with other advanced cognitive skills, has fuelled the evolution of human culture. Comparative evidence has revealed that although the ability to copy sounds from conspecifics is mostly uniquely human among primates, a few distantly related taxa of birds and mammals have also independently evolved this capacity.

Remarkably, field observations of killer whales have documented the existence of group-differentiated vocal dialects that are often referred to as traditions or cultures and are hypothesized to be acquired non-genetically. Here we use a do-as-I-do paradigm to study the abilities of a killer whale to imitate novel sounds uttered by conspecific (vocal imitative learning) and human models (vocal mimicry).
We found that the subject made recognizable copies of all familiar and novel conspecific and human sounds tested and did so relatively quickly (most during the first 10 trials and three in the first attempt).
Our results lend support to the hypothesis that the vocal variants observed in natural populations of this species can be socially learned by imitation. The capacity for vocal imitation shown in this study may scaffold the natural vocal traditions of killer whales in the wild.

Sad news from SeaWorld, their last orca calf has died

Kyara with her mom, Takara. Credit: SeaWorld

This news must be heartbreaking for those who spent almost two years in waiting for and caring for Kyara, SeaWorld’s last captive bred baby whale. No matter what your views on captivity, the whales require an enormous amount of daily care by people who are genuinely dedicated and concerned about their welfare and those people deserve acknowledgement for the difficult time they must be going through.
In SeaWorld’s statement below it is reported that Kyara’s family is already back to normal, which implies either the whales don’t know that the calf is dead or that she was dead to them once she was taken away for treatment – either way, it has to been difficult for the calf’s family.
Whales and dolphins have been shown to need time to grieve (Adult Male Pilot Whale Carries Dead Calf; Cetaceans Need Time To Grieve)  and I hope the calf’s family was given time with her body even though it is not traditionally done in captivity. Wild orca mothers have shown what is interpreted as mourning (Mother Orca And Her Dead Calf: A Mother’s Grief? ) so it is logical to think that this would be true in captivity as well.
Be that as it may, SeaWorld has been relatively forthcoming and has given a somewhat detailed report on Kyara’s death – in the past they would have covered up or clammed up entirely. It’s progress.

SeaWorld Is Saddened To Announce The Passing Of Kyara

July 24, 2017
This weekend Kyara, the 3-month-old killer whale calf at SeaWorld San Antonio, was being treated at the park’s Animal Hospital for an infection. The dedicated team of veterinarians and care staff spent the last three days providing critical care for Kyara, but despite their best efforts, her health continued to decline and she passed away earlier today.
She was surrounded by the dedicated teams that cared for her over the last three months and fought tirelessly for her over the last several days.
Julie, just one of the orca trainers that spent countless hours caring for the San Antonio orca pod, including many nights with the calf, said “Kyara had a tremendous impact on each of her care staff, not to mention all of the guests that had the chance to see her. From late nights to early morning, rain or shine, we dedicate our lives to these animals, and this loss will be felt throughout the entire SeaWorld family.”
The team’s attention now turns to the rest of the orca pod, especially Takara, to provide the care and attention they need. The veterinary team will conduct a full post mortem examination to determine the cause of death. It may take several weeks before results are finalized.The global SeaWorld team is united in support of our San Antonio family as they go through this extremely difficult time.
Question & Answer:
When did Kyara die?
Kyara passed away early today, July 24, surrounded by the dedicated SeaWorld staff that not only cared for her for the last several months, as well as the staff that fought tireless to save her life over the last several days.
How did Kyara die?
Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week that the animal care and veterinary teams had been aggressively treating. While the official cause of death will not be determined until the post-mortem exam is complete, we know that Kyara had an infection, likely pneumonia, and that her health continued to decline.
When was Kyara born?
Kyara was born in April to mom Takara at SeaWorld San Antonio.
Do you know what illness she had?
While the official cause of death won’t be determined until the post-mortem exam is complete, through monitoring Kyara’s behavior, and a physical examination, SeaWorld’s veterinary and animal care teams identified that she had an infection, likely pneumonia, that they were aggressively  treating. Pneumonia has been identified as one of the most common causes of morbidity or illness in whales and dolphins, both in the wild and in aquariums.
Why did you remove Kyara from her mom?
Our primary concern was the health of Kyara. The expert veterinary and animal care teams made the decision to bring Kyara to the husbandry pool at the Animal Hospital to ensure she received the necessary hydration and treatment. Additionally, Kyara had not been receiving the daily nutrition that she needed, so the teams supplemented that nutrition through hand-feeding multiple times each day.
How were you treating her? What medications was she receiving? 
Kyara was under 24-hr care and watch at the animal hospital at SeaWorld San Antonio. In addition to monitoring her 24/7, the expert veterinary staff was treating her with antimicrobials, including antibiotics, for any infections she was fighting. Additionally, the team was hand-feeding her in an effort to ensure she received the nutrition she needed.
How is her mom, Takara, and the rest of the pod doing? 
Takara’s behavior was back to normal by the end of the weekend. Additionally, the rest of the pod is responding well and behaving normally. While the loss of Kyara is heartbreaking for the animal care, veterinary and training teams, as well as the entire SeaWorld family, our focus is now on continuing the care of the rest of the orca pod back at Shamu Stadium.
Is there any chance other killer whales will get this illness?
No other members of the SeaWorld San Antonio orca pod are showing any signs of illness, but they continued to be monitored and cared for by SeaWorld’s expert veterinary and animal care teams.
How will this impact the killer whale shows?
The One Ocean shows at SeaWorld San Antonio will be cancelled for the rest of the day, July 24. Guests should check the SeaWorldSanAntonio.com website, or with Guest Services, for scheduling for thre rest of the week.
Was this caused by being in captivity?
No, Kyara’s pneumonia has been identified as the most common cause of mortality and illness in whales in dolphins, both in the wild and in zoological facilities.
Will you make the results of the necropsy public?
Post mortem exams are detailed clinical investigations that include a good deal of laboratory testing. We will provide an update on SeaWorldCares.com as soon as the full results have come back.

This rescued killer whale calf is thriving 15 years later – “Celebrate Springer!” events

Fifteen years ago, Springer, an orphaned and lost orca calf was successfully rescued, rehabilitated, and returned to her wild family.
“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” said Paul Spong of OrcaLab. “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”

PHOTO CREDIT:
Graeme Ellis: Springer and calf Spirit, 4 July 2013

“The Springer success story continues to be an inspiration for all of us working on conservation in the Salish Sea,” said Lynne Barre, the lead for orca recovery at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office in Seattle. “The partnerships created during Springer’s rescue provide a strong foundation for international cooperation as well as coordination between government, state, tribal, and non-profit groups to benefit both Northern and Southern Resident killer whales.”
Fifteen years later, Springer is still healthy and in 2013 had her first calf, Spirit. They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.
“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and organizer of the Vashon Island event. “To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies and nations. Above all, we put her best interests first. Community members played a key role in shaping Springer’s fate. We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve.”
The 2002 Springer rescue team will reconvene in programs and events in Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Telegraph Cove in May, June and July to give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated. She was taken by jet catamaran to the north end of Vancouver Island and reunited with her Northern Resident family.

Celebrate Springer!” begins on May 20 on Vashon Island near the waters were Springer was found. The Vashon Theater program of “Springer’s Story” will feature members of the rescue team, a dance performance by Le La La Dancers, who were present at Springer’s release, and followed by a late afternoon Whale Trail sign dedication at the Point Robinson Lighthouse.
The event will continue in June and July with programs at NOAA Fisheries, Whale Trail Orca Talk, Whale Trail sign dedications, and conclude with a three-day program at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, where Springer was released in 2002 and rejoined her Northern Resident family.
For more information, check out the Celebrate Springer Facebook page and The Whale Trail.


“Celebrate Springer!” partners include NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, OrcaLab, Whale Interpretive Center, Vancouver Aquarium and The Whale Trail.