Welcome to the first Whale Wednesday of the blog! In this series, I’m going to be looking at the lives of the 57 Orca who are in captivity and bring you their story.
Yes, I know killer whales aren’t actually whales, but for the purpose of this theme- and the fact they have the term whale in their “name”- they will be the prominent subject of this scheduled feature. For people who don’t know, Orca are a part of the Delphinidae family and therefore makes them an Oceanic Dolphin rather than a whale.
My aim is not to make you feel guilty about visiting these parks, but to educate you on the lives that they are “living” while in captivity. I am anti captivity, but realise that full release into the wild in impossible for some of the animals that I will mention. I do however support the notion that sea pens can-and have- been built to rehabilitate these animals so that they can live the rest of their days in comfort and peace.
Now, onto our first Orca, Corky II
Corky is the oldest living Killer Whale in captivity. At 50 years old, she is also the largest female orca that is held in captivity, measuring at just under 20 feet in length and weighs in at around 8,300 pounds.
Corky is said to be one of the more docile whales, being favoured for initial waterwork sessions with beginner trainers before the no-waterwork ruling was enforced in 2010.
Corky hasn’t had the best life in captivity. She has fallen pregnant several times, but sadly the majority of them ended in miscarriage, and the ones that did survive, didn’t live past 46 days old.
Corky’s life in the wild was short lived and when she was just 3 years old, her world turned upside down.
As a member of the Northern Resident killer whale population, she was caught in one of the whale captures just off Pender Harbour in British Columbia on the 11th of December, 1969.
Before heading to SeaWorld, she was shipped to Marineland of the Pacific where she became tank mates with an orca bull named Orky.
In 1987, both Orky and Corky were transferred to SeaWorld San Diego whilst Corky was pregnant with her seventh calf.
Her Time at SeaWorld San Diego
After seemingly settling in well at the park, Corky began to have issues with one of the Icelandic orcas who was already at SeaWorld known as Kandu V.
During one of the shows in 1989, Kandu tried to assert her dominance over Corky with brute force and rammed into her with her head. This caused Kandu’s jaw to break which severed an artery in her head and sadly the whale passed away, leaving behind a baby calf named Orkid who was her old tank mate Orky II’s daughter.
Due to her docile nature, Corky has acted surrogate mother to many young whales which have passed through the park such as young Orkid, Sumar, Splash and Keet.
How to Identify Corky
Corky is one of the easier whales to identify, thanks to her huge size and smaller pectoral flippers. This helps distinguish her from the large male orcas in the pool with her. She also has a very tall, unbent dorsal fin.
If you look closer, you may also notice a few chips in her dorsal fin and a nick in her left dorsal fluke (left side of her tail)
Corky is one of the most intelligent animals on this planet, and I urge every single one of my readers to take something of her story away with them and really think about where she has come from and what she has had to sacrifice to be placed in a tank to entertain humans.
As you can probably tell, Corky is one of my favourite whales, and I’d love nothing more than to see her live out her days in an ocean pen near her family.
That’s it for my first Whale Wednesday! Keep checking back to find out more about all 57 pf the captive Killer Whales! In the meantime, head over to my Facebook and Twitter pages and keep up to date with what I’m up to!