"Baby Shamu" has been named Nakai.
September 3, 2001
Sea World San Diego has announced that the recently-born killer whale is actually a boy. While early indications had been that "Baby Shamu" was a girl, testing has shown that the newest orca is actually a boy. For more information, click here for Sea World's press release.
For a live view from one of two cameras at the showpool, click here. Views are available from 9am to 6pm during daylight hours. You never know what you might see!
September 3, 2001
Sea World San Diego's newest killer whale was born on Saturday, September 1, 2001 at approximately 8:45pm in the park's 36-feet-deep show pool. While not yet officially confirmed, indications are that the baby is a female, currently weighing approximately 300 lbs. at an estimated length of 5 feet. The baby was born head first, only the second killer whale to be born that way at a Sea World park. The only other head-first killer whale birth involved the first killer whale born to a Sea World park, in 1985. Kasatka, the 24-year-old mother and dominant female, first showed signs of labor at approximately 7:30pm after having carried the baby for about 17 months. Killer whales are usually in labor for several hours prior to giving birth, but the head-first birth of the baby this time might have accounted for the shortened labor. About 5 hours after its birth, the baby showed signs of nursing, and it took a couple of tries for it to nurse successfully. The baby currently spends about 90 minutes nursing in a 24 hour period, but the nursing time will decrease as the baby learns to nurse more successfully. A killer whale's milk is 40% fat, which will help the baby to grow quickly.
This is the first killer whale baby born to a mother who was artificially inseminated. The father is Tillikum, a killer whale in his 20s in Sea World Orlando. He weighs about 14,000 pounds, and no trainers enter the water with him. By comparison, Sea World San Diego's largest killer whale, Ulises, estimated at 22 or 23 years old, weighs 9,000 lbs. Corky, the oldest female at 35, weighs 8,100 lbs.
Also present during the birth was Kasatka's first born, Takara, a 10-year-old female born July 9, 1991, who had been spending a lot of time with her mother. Orkid, a 12-year-old female whose mother had died about 10 years ago, and to whom Kasatka had become a surrogate mother, was introduced into the show pool on Monday. The hope is that both Takara and Orkid will learn from Kasatka as she tends to the baby. Takara can be identified by the chocolate "dribble" on her chin, and Orkid can be identified by the heavy rake marks towards the back of her tail.
Rounding out the killer whale contingent at Sea World San Diego is Splash, an 8-year-old male, Keet, a 6-year-old male, and Sumar, a 3-year-old male. A female is currently off-show for health reasons.
We arrived at the show pool on Monday at about 2:30. Kasatka, her baby, Takara and Orkid were all swimming around, so it was sometimes hard to get glances of the new baby other than via the underwater camera installed facing the main stage. Baby spent quite a bit of time swimming on Kasatka's side away from the bleachers, but later on, she moved to the other side and was then more easily visible. All killer whale shows (daytime and nighttime) were cancelled for the day, with three "Baby Shamu Presentations" scheduled during the late morning and early afternoon. During the presentations, video footage was shown of the baby's birth, including Kasatka's "presentation" of her newborn to her trainers, as well as video of other Sea World killer whale births. In between presentations, Shamu Stadium was open so people could sit and watch the whales, and staff from Sea World San Diego's education department were available to answer questions while others in the education department (and presumably other animal care/research departments) observed and noted information about the whales. The trainers were feeding Kasatka by scooping up handfuls of fish and then when Kasatka swam by the main stage and opened her mouth, they tossed the handful in. Kasatka was still her feisty self. She managed to surprise one of her observers with a quick shower when the observer was busy watching the baby and not mindful of Kasatka. At one point, the trainers managed to get Takara and Orkid into a side pool, leaving Kasatka and her baby alone in the show pool. With the extra freedom, the baby on a few occasions bolted away from her mother, only to have Kasatka follow her and corral her. During the last presentation, Kasatka and her baby were reunited with Takara and Orkid. Following the last presentation, all four whales were moved to Shamu Close-Up, a 30-feet-deep underwater viewing tank. They spent about 2 hours there, delighting spectators, a local news crew and Sea World trainers alike. The group was later moved back to the show pool for the night. Kasatka and her baby are under 24-hour watch, which is expected to continue for several months.
Pictures taken September 3, 2001.
The view from the underwater camera as shown on Shamu Vision.
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Last updated April 15, 2002.