Whale Wednesday: Spotlight on Kshamenk

All you whale lovers will be jumping for joy at the content of my blog this week! Two whale related blogs? Yes sir! If you didn’t catch my monday blog, go check it out! It covers my take on the SeaWorld announcement on their end to captive breeding orca in their park!

However, this week’s Whale Wednesday focuses on an orca who is not in SeaWorld’s collection. He’s called Kshamenk (seriously, what is it with difficult to pronounce names… first Kyuquot… now this big guy, Sha-Menk) who currently resides in Mundo Marino, Argentina

13 - kshamenk

His Capture

Kshamenk began his life in captivity when he was 5 years old. Like many of the older captive whales, he was taken from the wild as a young calf to train to perform in a marine park setting, in this case, Mundo Marino.

However, the story of his capture depends on who you ask. According to Mundo Marino themselves, Kshamenk and his small pod were found to have stranded themselves in an inlet and could not get themselves back into the ocean. The marine park went out to “help” the pod and only Kshamenk survived the ordeal.

However, there have been reports of the park force stranding orca in the past by driving the animals into the inlet and netting them in, preventing them from escaping. This is reportedly how they captured the other orca that they had in their care at that time who would soon become Kshamenk’s tank mate, Belen.

What we do know for sure is that he was captured on the 19th of September 1992 at around 5 years of age.

His Captive Life

As mentioned above, Kshamenk shared a tank with a female orca named Belen. The two tank mates did eventually mate, but sadly the calf was stillborn. Following this sad occasion, Belen became pregnant a second time, but passed away herself in 2000 before delivering the calf.

Ever since Belen’s death, Kshamenk has resided as the only orca in Mundo Marino since. He shares his tank with dolphins and can often be seen performing with them (does this sound familiar? *cough Lolita/Tokitae cough*

Again – like Toki – he lives in a very small pool, and can often be seen lying upside down in a curved position in the even smaller holding pools at the back of the stage area. It has been said many times that because he is in this position a lot, he is “permanently curved” – that and he can’t actually jump properly in the main pool either.

He has also been known to swim 500 reps of his pool in an hour… not just occasionally, mind… every.single.hour.

His “Family”

Despite being the only orca at Mundo Marino and losing two calfs and Belen, Kshamenk is the father to two whales who are currently in SeaWorld’s collection. Firstly, San Diego matriarch Kasatka gave birth to Makani on February 14th, 2013, swiftly followed by her daughter Takara giving birth to his daughter Kamea on December 6th of the same year.

Both these calfs were concieved using artificial insemination, and will remain as some of the last whales in SeaWorld’s collection who were bred this way – yay!

Kshamenk is believed to be a transient orca, that is, in the wild he hunted and fed on other marine mamals rather than just fish. He is said to be one of the only transients ever held in captivity.

How To Identify Kshamenk

Aside from him being the only orca now residing at Mundo Marino, Kshamenk can be identified by his large dorsal fin which has collapsed to the right hand side of his body.

False eyepatch wise, he has a very long, round bottomed left patch, and a shorter, stubbier looking right patch.

He also has the best looking teeth of any orca in captivity – or at least that has been in captivity for this length of time. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been much dental work done, and each tooth still seems to have retained its conical shape.

His tank is so small he can’t even jump properly.

He also has a slight stain on his bottom lip, right in the middle which looks like a lighter version of Takara’s “tea stain”.

Kshamenk weighs around 7,800 lbs and measures 19.5 feet in length.

Kshamenk doesn’t deserve to live as the only whale in his tank, but to change that, another whale must be brought in to endure the horrible captive conditions that he is currently facing – not something that anyone should want. I believe a sea pen would do him well, espeically being a transient orca who can flit between social groups in the wild.

What do you think about Kshamenk and his living conditions? Let me know – you can comment below or find me on Facebook and Twitter!

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