Welcome to my next instalment of my Whale Wednesday series!
Today’s orca is another animal who appeared in Blackfish for her notorious behavior whilst in captivity. Her name is Orkid, and she currently resides at SeaWorld San Diego. She is the first Killer Whale in this series that was born into captivity, and has never known the freedom of the ocean.
Orkid’s Introduction to Captive Life
Orkid was born on the 23rd of September in 1988, making her 27 years of age. She was born to her mother Kandu 5 and father Orky 2 before a show at the Shamu Stadium and was the first successful orca to be born at the park.
However, the happy moment of her birth was soon shattered as her father Orky died 3 days later from suspected pneumonia.
Video by Tilikum16
With an already rocky start in life, it was hoped that Orkid could grow up to be a hapy, healthy calf under the watchful eye of her mother, Kandu. Unfortunately, Kandu was involved in a serious incident with Corky in 1989 which ended with Kandu haemoraging from a severed artery in her jaw and sadly passing away with the young, 11 month old Orkid swimming by her side the whole time.
Luckily for Orkid, Corky stepped in and began to act as her surrogate mother, raising her former tanksmate’s calf to be her own. They are still together to this day and are often seen interacting together. Strangely enough, Orky – Orkid’s father- had been Corky’s mate while at Marineland of the Pacific and was the sire of all of Corky’s young.
Orkid’s Behaviour and Temperament
Although she is often seen as a quietly dominant whale, Orkid has had quite a rough history when it comes to interacting with humans.
Of 87 publicly recorded incidents between SeaWorld orcas and employees, Orkid has been involved in 17 of them. One of the more well known attacks which was documented in the documentary Blackfish involved a trainer being pulled into Orkids tank after repeatedly placing her foot on Orkid’s rostrum (nose). You can see the incident below (WARNING: You do see the trainer’s arm bent in a “u” shaped position)
Orkid and another orca named Splash (sadly deceased) pulled the trainer in and dunked her multiple times, compound fracturing her arm. The attack was documented by a park visitor.
How To Identify Orkid
Orkid has a very tall straight dorsal fin that is known to wobble as she swims around.
False eyepatch wise Orkid has very small, white, oval patches compared to other orcas. She is also one of the slimmer whales, weighing over 6,000lbs and measuring 19 feet in length.
Orkid is an incredibly intelligent whale, and many experts have commented that her aggression may be due to the fact that she is aware of her captive surroundings. This hasn’t be proved, however, but it is quite an interesting thought, especially as the captivity of these animals has long been a topic of heated discussion.