Hello and welcome to Whale Wednesday!
I am super sorry that this is a week late! There’s been so much going on (sadly all pretty bad) and I either haven’t had the means to update, or haven’t physically been able to update. However, all this will be explained in Friday’ blog, so keep your eyes peeled!
Without further ado, let’s jump right in and find out more about one of the whales which featured in her own segment of the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish – Kasatka.
Like all the older whales, Kasatka was captured and taken away from her pod at a very young age to be sold to the captivity industry. She was approximately one years old when she was captured on the 26th of October in 1978 off the coast of Iceland.
This makes her 100% Icelandic whale.
Her Unique Name
Kasatka has an incredibly unique name, and one of the more difficult to pronounce for visitors (well, those who understand that not all the whales are “Shamu”).
It is said that she was named using the Russian word for Orca, which is Kasatka. It’s not understood why they chose such a unique name, but I actually love it! Not that I don’t love Corky or Katina, Kasatka just sounds impressive- perfect for the power and intelligence that these animals posess!
Her Life at Sea World
Kasatka has lived at four SeaWorld parks in her lifetime. She currently resides at SeaWorld SanDiego with some of her calves and grandchildren.
Altogether, Kasatka has had 4 successful calves, the first of which was Takara who was born on July 9th 1991. The bond between Takara and Kasatka featured in Blackfish after trainers such as John Hargrove (seriously, if you need a good read and want to find out more about orcas in captivity at Seaworld, go buy his book “Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish“) voiced concerns about SeaWorld removing calves from their mothers- something which rarely ever happens naturally in the wild.
Her second calf was Nakai who was born on the 1st of September 2001, and he was the first orca to be successfully concieved through artificial insemination with the sperm of the infamous Tilikum who resides in SeaWorld Orlando.
Kalia is her third calf, born on December 21st, 2004. Kalia is known as Great Grandbaby Shamu as her Great Grandmother Katina was the mother of the original Baby Shamu, Kalina.
Her fourth calf was born much more recently in 2013. Makani was born on Valentines day (February 14th) in 2013 after Kasatka was artificially inseminated by Kshamenk from Mundo Marino in the summer of 2011.
She is grandmother to the following calves:
She is also a great grandmother to two calves- Adan and the sadly deceased Victoria who resided at Loro Parque (yup, THEM again) and was rejected by her mother Kohana. She passed away at under a year old.
Kasatka’s Behaviour and Temperament
Being the matriarch at SeaWorld San Diego, Kasatka is incredibly dominant and keeps her “pod” in line. She is known to be quite agressive to the lesser domimnant orcas and has been known to show aggression to her trainers.
The most famous of all her trainer agression episodes was the incident with her trainer Ken Peters in 2006.
During the last show of the evening, Kasatka grabbed the trainers foot and dragged him down to the bottom of the tank- 36 foot down. She did bring him back to the surface less than a minute later, but ignored the signals to take the helpless trainer to the slideout.
She took him back down again for around a minute this time, again, bringing him back up. Eventually, Peters managed to get her to let go of his foot and a net was strung across the pool. He swam to the slideout and Kasatka came whirling back around and slid over the net, appearing to be coming back for him, but didn’t have the opportunity to grab him again.
Peters suffered a broken left foot and multiple puncture wounds to both feet.
This wasn’t the first attack that Kasatka had unleashed on Peters, with another being reported in 1999 where she reportedly tried to throw him our of the tank.
During both incidents, there had been tension or vocalisation with two of her calves in other pools, which may have caused her to become aggrivated.
How To Identify Kasatka
Kasatka has a very unique freckle in her left eyepatch which she appears to have passed on to her calf Takara, who has a similar marking.
She has a notch in her right fluke (tail) and has a slight bend in her dorsal fin that gives is a slight “s” looking shape. She is 38 years old and 17.7 feet long and weighs 4,860 pounds.
Kasatka is one of the most fascinating whales that I’ve ever learnt about, and is one of the best examples of what these huge mamals are capable of.