...the first live orca exhibited in
captivity.Vancouver Aquarium commissioned 38-year-old
sculptor, Samuel Burich, to find and kill an orca whale,
and to fashion a life-sized model for the aquarium's
new British Columbia Hall. He set up a harpoon gun
on Saturna Island in British Columbia's Gulf Islands.
Two months later, a pod of 13 killer whales approaches the shore.
Burich harpoons a young whale, injuring but not killing
it. "Immediately, two pod members came to the
aid of the stunned whale, pushing it to the
surface to breathe. Then the whale seemed to
come to life and struggled to free itself--jumping
and smashing its tail and, according to observers,
uttering 'shrill whistles so intense that they could easily
be heard above the surface of the water 300 feet
away.' Burich set off in a small boat to finish
the job. He fired several rifle shells at the whale...but the
orca did not die.
The aquarium director, Murray A.
Newman, soon arrived from Vancouver by
float plane and decided to try to save the 15-foot-long
1-ton whale. Using the line attached to the harpoon
in its back, Burich and Bauer towed the whale
to Vancouver. It took 16 hours "through choppy
seas and blinding squalls" to drag the whale to Vancouver.
Moby Doll is put into a makeshift pen at
Burrard Drydocks, and becomes an international
celebrity and a magnet for scientists.
Killer whales had been recorded by the Royal
Canadian Navy in 1956, but no study was made
of their sounds until Moby Doll's capture.
William Schevill and William A. Watkins
of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in
Massachusetts visit Moby Doll to study and
record her sounds. Scientists and others who observe
the whale comment on the whale's docility,
tameness. "The whale seemed to be suffering from
shock...For a long time, Moby Doll...would not eat.
She was offered everything from salmon to horse
hearts, but the whale only circled the pool night
and day in a counterclockwise pattern." After 55 days
in captivity, Moby Doll begins eating--up to 200
pounds of fish a day. But the whale has developed a skin
disease from the low salinity of the harbor water,
and continues to appear exhausted. The whale
dies a month later, after 87 days in captivity.
Newspapers around the world
chronicle Moby Doll's death.
The Times of London gives the whale's obituary
a two-column heading, the same size given to
the outbreak of World War II. "The widespread publicity
--some of it the first positive press ever about killer
whales--marked the beginning of an important
change in the public attitude toward the species."
Postscript: the autopsy revealed Moby Doll to be
a male, not a female.
(Source: "ORCA: The Whale Called Killer,"
by Erich Hoyt, 1990 edition)
the bull killer whale is accidentally
caught in a gill net near Namu, British Columbia,
Fisherman Bill Lechkobit's gill net had become
entangled in a reef, so he cut the net loose.
In the morning, two killer whales, "blackfish" as
the fishermen called them, were found
in the net--a bull and a calf.
"The first day, ...the bull slipped out through a
place between the net and the rocks, as if showing
the calf the route to freedom. The baby stayed put,
so the bull returned. Two days later, the calf was gone,
but for some reason, the bull remained."
Namu is brought to the Seattle Public Aquarium
by Ted Griffin, swimming roughly 450 miles behind Griffin's
boat in a floating sea pen. The public
falls in love with him: a rock 'n roll song is
written and a popular movie is made with him
(called "Namu the Killer Whale"). He eats 375 pounds of
dead fish a day--five percent of his body weight. He is the first
killer whale to perform for the public. Yet, despite his
rapport with Griffin, and his acceptance of his new performance
and feeding routines, Namu is heard to issue "loud, strident
screams' regularly from his Rich Cove pen. At time, his cries
were picked up by passing Puget Sound whales, who apparently
returned his calls." Then, with no warning, Namu dies due to
an infection from polluted water in his pen. It is July, 1966. He
had survived 11 months in captivity.
...Caught by Ted Griffin
and Don Goldsberry in Carr Inlet, Washington, Shamu was
their first successful live-capture orca whale, and the first
in a long succession of ' Shamus' - the stage
name given to performing orcas in the U.S. Sea World
chain of parks. They put her in the pen with Namu for a
short time, they were apparently good companions, then she
was flown to Sea World San Diego in December, 1965. According
to Erich Hoyt's book, Shamu made distress calls throughout
her first day at Sea World. Not always nice, on one occasion, she
bit a girl's leg and played tug-of-war with her, reports Hoyt.
Shamu died at Sea World San Diego in August, 1971, after six
years in captivity.
...Lolita is caught during a highly
1970 whale roundup at Penn Cove, Washington. Several
whales die during this roundup and later wash up on a beach, with bellies
slit and weighed down by steel chains. Several other
whales from that set were sent to aquariums. Lolita alone
survives. She lives and performs at the Miami Seaquarium
in Florida. (Note: "Lolita's Legion" was formed in 1996. It is a group of schoolchildren working to free Lolita and includes 3000 children in six countries. For information, email Carl Dortch: email@example.com.)
...Keiko is caught off Iceland. A calf, barely 2
old, he gets caught in a herring fishing net and is shipped
on a cargo plane from Iceland to Marineland of Ontario, Canada.
One of six orcas being trained by the park, he is the youngest and
1985--Keiko is bought by Reino Aventura, an amusement
park in Mexico City, Mexico.
1992--Keiko is cast in the Warner Brother's film, "Free Willy,"
by producers Lauren Shuler-Donner and Jenny Lew Tugend.
1993--"Free Willy" is released, and becomes Warner Brothers'
second highest-grossing movie that year at the box office.
After the film is over, more than 300,000 people from around
the world call an 800 number at the end of the film,
expressing their wish that Keiko be released, like the Willy
character he played in the film.
1995--"Free Willy II" is released to the theaters.
1996 January --Keiko moves to Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport
to begin his rehabilitation, after two years of negotiations
between the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and Reino Aventura. The goal:
to teach him to eat live fish again, to increase his vigor,
muscle tone, skin condition, and weight, so that
he may be released to the wild and hopefully,
reunited with his family.
1997-98 Training Keiko to capture and eat live fish continues,
together with overall conditioning. The current plan is to
relocate Keiko to a protected sea pen in the
North Atlantic, possibly in 1998, where he can continue to receive care
and begin a final phase of rehabilitation, until it's decided whether he can
be released to the wild. Possible sea-pen sites under consideration include
Iceland, Ireland and Scotland.
In 1977, Corky had her first calf, the first
killer whale to be conceived and born in captivity. But the
calf was brain damaged, and soon died--and so
did at least four more of Corky's calves. Corky's calf born
in 1986 failed to nurse, so every six hours, around the
clock, Marineland employees hand-fed the baby.
Corky II is believed to be from the A5 pod, which lives in the waters
off northern Washington and southern British Columbia. She was
caught in Pender Harbor, B.C, Canada, in December, 1969, sent to
Marineland in California until 1987, then to Sea World, California,
where she is still alive, performing, and producing today, under
the "stage name" Shamu.
When a tape of Corky's family vocalizations (recorded by
orca expert Paul Spong) is played for Corky, she shudders
long and visibly.
Junior spent his first two years
post-capture in Saedyrasafnid, Iceland. At the end of 1986,
he went to Marineland of Ontario in Canada.
Zoocheck Canada Inc wrote this memorial for Junior:
"Junior was a male Icelandic orca whale who languished in a
tiny tank inside a 'warehouse' at Marineland for more than
four years, cut off from outside air, sunlight and normal
companionship. Junior died at Marineland in 1994."
According to whale expert Erich Hoyt, other orcas who have died
at Marineland include: Kandu II, Kandy, 'No name' and 'No Name.'"
(Source: Zoocheck Canada Inc., in Toronto;
"ORCA: The Whale Called Killer,"
by Erich Hoyt, 1990 edition)
Captured in November, 1983, in the waters of Iceland.
He was at Saedyrasafnid, Iceland, until November, 1984,
and then was moved to Sealand of the Pacific, a marine
park in Victoria, British Columbia. In November, 1991,
Tillikum is an estimated 20 feet long, and 11 years old.
Sea World, Inc., applies to U.S. National Marine Fisheries
Service for a permit to import
the male orca, noting that Sealand of the Pacific plans to
discontinue the display of killer whales in its facility in
1992. It also notes that the two female orcas at Sealand
with Tillikum are pregnant.
Sea World's application reads: "Due to the
disruptive and potentially harmful impact this male
may have on the success of mother/calf nursing and
bonding, authorization is requested for the relocation
of this animal to Sea World of Florida as soon as
To separate him from the other orcas,
Sealand places Tillikum in a tiny holding pool, where
his health is undermined to such a degree, that
Sea World applies for, and receives, a permit
to import Tillikum on a medical emergency basis.
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