Welcome back to another Whale Wednesday!
This week, we’re going to focus on the life of Katina, one of SeaWord’s longest serving orca. Katina has been one of the most successful whales kept in the “collection” and it’s only fitting that more people learn about her long life in captivity.
Her Capture and First Captivity Experience
Katina was captured around Iceland during October of 1978. She was around 2 years old when she was taken into captivity at Marineland Ontario.
At first, Katina was known as Kandu VI (not the same Kandu that rammed Corky II and ruptured an artery in her brain) and resided at Marineland for around a year before being transferred to SeaWorld Ohio where she became close friends with another of SeaWorld’s famous whales, Kasatka.
Katina stayed within SeaWorlds collection and was moved between SeaWorld Ohio and SeaWorld California.
Youtube Video by orca specialist and former SeaWorld trainer Jeffrey Ventre
Becoming the “Most Successful Whale” in Captivity
Katina became pregnant and gave birth to the first captive calf on the 26th of September 1985. The calf was to become the worlds first “Baby Shamu” and millions flocked to see her perform with her mother.
However, Katina didn’t have the smoothest ride with her first pregnancy. She was shipped back to SeaWorld Ohio where trainers then discovered the pregnancy and shipped her back to Orlando once the summer show season was over.
As her title at SeaWorld suggests, Katina has been an incredibly successful addition to their collection, giving birth to 7 calves in her lifetime.
- Kalina (“Baby Shamu” deceased)
- Katerina (deceased)
- Taku (deceased)
You’ll come to learn of Katina’s living offspring in future Whale Wednesday blogs, and maybe I’ll even do a spotlight on some of her sadly deceased calves too- after all, they were once captive whales too!
Katina has also borne some of the famous Tilikum’s calves, namely Taku, Unna, Ikaika and Makaio. However, before Tilikum was separated from the other whales, it seemed as though he and Katina didn’t get on very well, with Katina being one of the instigators of raking him when he first arrived at Orlando in 1992.
It’s also worth noting that her calf Nalani is the result of her mating with her own son, Taku- something that is hardly ever seen in the wild.
Katina is around 39 years of age and weighs around 5,200 pounds and is approximately 17 feet long. Although she is quite a small whale compared to the other females in the collection, she is quite bulky and stocky in build.
SeaWorld considers her to be one of the most reliable show whales that they have, and she performs multiple shows daily.
Youtube Video by Tilikum16
She is also the established Matriarch in the Orlando venue, which makes her quite a dominating character. This can greatly affect the mood of the other whales, especially if she decides she doesn’t want to perform as the other whales will generally follow her lead.
She currently only lives with Makaio and Nalani and her grandson Trua from her family pod. she can often be seen socialising with another whale named Kayla.
How to Identify Katina
Katina can generally be identified in the pool by her small pectoral fins (flippers) with relation to the size of her body. She also has quite a rounded head compared to the sleek shape of other whales.
Katina also has a dorsal fin that has collapsed to the left side of her body and her flukes bend down slightly.
If you manage to look closely, you will also see a small white dot on the tip of her rostrum (nose).
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Katina’s life. I know some people don’t find it interesting at all, but I want to add my voice to the thousands of others that want the world to know that these animals are intelligent, self realising creatures who deserve more than just being known as “Shamu” for the rest of their lives.
As always, I encourage anyone to come and chat with me about captive cetaceans over on my Facebook and Twitter pages. If you want to help, please be sure to check out the Orca Project to find out more about the captivity industry, and The Dolphin Project to raise more awareness about the brutal, disgusting dolphin drives in Taiji.