This is the shock moment a killer whale RAMS dad’s boat and swims off with the anchor

July 28, 2017

Killer whale in sea holding boat rope in its mouth

Victor Littlefield was fishing with his 14-year-old son and two of his school friends near Little Birka Island, off the coast of Alaska, US.

Suddenly the small boat began rocking from side to side and the dad’s first thought was they were under attack from a great white.

Then Victor spotted the enormous black and white orca in the water as it rammed the boat with its tale and somehow got a hold of the anchor.

The clip shows the boat violently rocking as the dad swears and the boys shout in disbelief.

The whale starts then swimming off with the anchor as the tension on the line almost causes the boat to capsize.

“I was able to clip a buoy onto the anchor as it took off with it,” Victor told the Daily Sitka Sentinel.

The buoy helped him later find the anchor after it was abandoned by the creature.

“I was prepared for bears, injury and storm but not prepared for that,” Victor said. “I had no idea what to do. You just don’t plan on killer whales attacking a boat.”

Thankfully no one was injured during the incident.

There has never been a recorded incident of an orca killing a human in the wild.

Source: Daily Star.co.uk

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Altman blames staff after request for workshop on SeaWorld captive breeding policy

July 26, 2017

A fight over whether to ban the captive breeding of killer whales has ensnared state Rep. Thad Altman, who is blaming his staff following the circulation of a letter bearing his name that called for a hearing on the issue.

The Indialantic lawmaker said he knew nothing about the letter, but an animal rights group that worked with his office believes he was lobbied by SeaWorld, which the group says does not want the issue discussed publicly.

Altman blames staff for the letter, which is dated May 5. In it, he said that lawmakers should consider passing a state law banning killer whale breeding and theatrical shows. In 2016, SeaWorld announced it would voluntarily take those steps after intense pressure from animal rights groups — but some groups are concerned that policy could be reversed, and have been pushing for a state law.

In the letter, Altman seemed to sympathize with those with concerns.

“As home to one of the three domestic SeaWorld theme parks holding this protected species captive, it is important that Florida explore the necessity of legislation to formally codify SeaWorld’s state corporate policy,” he wrote.

He also noted that in 2017 the Chinese-based company Zhonghong Group bought a 21 percent share in the company, an indication that corporate ownership — and policies — can change.

“Discussing whether the stated corporate practice should be codified in law is vital, as corporate leadership and ownership change constantly,” read the letter. “In fact, in March 2017, the New York Times reported that a large shareholder stake in SeaWorld has been obtained by a Chinese investment firm.”

Altman said he did not know about the letter, which was under his office’s letterhead, and that he is not even opposed to killer whale captive breeding because “we don’t have enough science” to justify a blanket ban.

“I think what happened was my aide was probably getting information from stakeholders and wrote a draft letter and probably had them take a look at it,” Altman told POLITICO Florida. “I didn’t know about it, and I’d be shocked if you found a letter that was actually signed by me. I never signed it.”

He really began getting feedback after a copy of the letter found its way to the website for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which was using it to ask people to reach out to lawmakers on the issue.

“I have called them and asked them to remove the letter,” Altman said.

The letter specifically asks that state House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairwoman Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, hold a workshop to discuss a 2016 California law that banned killer whale captive breeding and theatrical shows. SeaWorld, which did not oppose that law, has a location in San Diego.

Travis Moore, a lobbyist for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said that his group is concerned the SeaWorld policy can change, especially in light of the purchase by the Chinese company.

“It’s now owned by a Chinese investment firm with not a great track record with this sort of thing,” he told POLITICO Florida. “If it’s a corporate policy, why don’t we codify in law because policy can change, it probably will.”

He said he reached out to Altman because he had worked with him on other issues and he seemed like a Republican who would be open to the idea.

Not so, Altman said.

“I am not ready at this point to pass a state law banning captive breeding,” he said. “I respect SeaWorld’s decision, but I don’t think we have enough science to pass a ban.”

Moore said he thinks SeaWorld, which he says opposes the idea of a Florida law or workshop, likely persuaded Altman to change his mind.

“It certainly looks that he has been talked to,” Moore said. “Everyone has a right to change their mind, but I am still pushing forward with this.”

Moore said during last session he was told by the those who represent SeaWorld that they did not want the issue to be the subject of legislation or discussed publicly.

“It was made clear to me in the Governor’s Lounge. They said, ‘If we could give any wiggle room, we would, but on this issue we can’t,’” Moore said. “They said, ‘We can’t have this issue discussed.’”

The Orlando-based company declined comment. Altman said SeaWorld reached out to him to see if he had actually requested a workshop, but he would not elaborate on the conversation.

“I don’t want to speak for them,” he said. “You would have to ask them.”

Source: Politico.com

Last killer whale calf born at SeaWorld dies

July 24, 2017

The last killer whale calf to be born in captivity at SeaWorld has died, the park announced Monday.

Kyara, the three-month-old calf, was being treated at the park’s animal hospital for an infection.

The staff spent the last three days providing critical care for the calf, but her health continued to decline and she died Monday.

The veterinary team will conduct a full post mortem examination to determine the cause of death. It could take several weeks before the results are finalized.

SeaWorld posted a question and answer article regarding the passing of Kayara on their website.

Source: wfla.com

This Could Be Why Orcas Have Been Eating Great White Sharks in South Africa

July 24, 2017

A South African shark-watching hotspot has recently turned into the scene of a seaside horror movie. For several months,enormous great white shark corpses have been washing up on the Gansbaai beaches, often missing their livers as if feasted upon by cetacean Hannibal Lecters. But this is no movie—it’s just biology, ruthless as ever.

This week is Shark Week  (SharkFest?), when networks like the Discovery Channel and Nat Geo Wild air (often pseudoscientific) shark-related programming to the shark-hungry public. While Shark Week programming is notorious for feeding into our fears about sharks, it turns out these fish are rarely a match for the orca whales. If we’re trying to celebrate a food chain-topping marine animal, it might be time for an Orca Week instead.

“Those that say sharks are apex predators, that’s not the case,” George Burgess, Director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History told Gizmodo. “As hard as it is to say it, the killer whales are a step above.”

After Gansbaai’s first incident just a few months ago, a handful of liverless great white shark carcasses have washed up on the South African beach in just a few months. The missing livers point to possible orca attacks—as we’ve reported before, shark livers are full of the nutrient squalene, which the orcas seem to be after.

The attacks might be new in South Africa, but certainly aren’t out of the ordinary for killer whales, said professor Rus Hoelzel from Durham University in the UK. “Killer whales can eat pretty much anything—they’re very good predators,” he said. “Working in a group certainly helps.” (Great white sharks can hunt in groups as well, but have a reputation for being lone hunters.)

Hoelzel noted that some orca whales have been spotted only eating specific animals, like dolphins. But scientists have found others with both dolphin meat and fish meat in their bellies. Folks have spotted orcas killing dolphins and sea lions, and a Nat Geo documentary shows whales eating a great white in 1997. Finally, back in late 2016, drones took this nightmarish footage of orca whales wrecking a shark:

The real question, then, isn’t whether orcas eat sharks (they do), but what’s changed in Gansbaai to amp up the number of attacks. Representatives from Marine Dynamics who’ve blogged about the recent events declined to comment for this story. But Burgess had some ideas.

“We do know that there has been a rise in white shark populations in certain areas of the world, such as on both coasts of the United States thanks to proper fishery management and endangered species status given to the white shark’s primary food items,” he said.

Basically, better shark management could have led to rising populations. Killer whales, too, are protected. “It may be that there are some modifications in their ranges,” said Burgess. “The animals may also be coming together more often, perhaps as a result of local environmental conditions.” We may be witnessing something that’s always happened, but better conservation practices or environmental changesare making it more common.

As for what induces the individual attacks, there are lots of reasons a great white would approach a pod of orcas. Great whites spend a lot of time chasing their next meal, and usually win their encounters with other animals, so why not attack an orca? Little do they know, orca whales can lay them out with a headbutt to the vulnerable belly full of nutritious organ meat, said Burgess. Which the whales might not actually eat, mind you.

“It comes down to whether the killer whales are going after the shark at their vulnerable spot to disable them and eat an important part of them, or if they’re there to essentially play with something that they’ve defeated, a la the cat,” said Burgess.

Orcas, it turns out, can be truly brutal. So, Discovery Channel, when are we getting our Orca Week?

Source: Gizmodo.com

SeaWorld whale calf Kyara showing possible signs of pneumonia

July 22, 2017

A whale calf at SeaWorld is showing possible signs of pneumonia.

SeaWorld officials say Takara’s 3-month-old calf, Kyara, is now being treated at the animal hospital at SeaWorld San Antonio. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of illness or morbidity in whales and dolphins.

SeaWorld says that the first several months for whale and dolphin calves are especially critical, so they are taking every precaution. To ensure Kyara can receive the best possible care and treatment, a team has taken over feeding her at the husbandry pool at the animal hospital until her health is stabilized. They say their goal is to return her back to Takara and to reunite mom and calf with the rest of the pod as soon as possible.

From SeaWorld’s Facebook Page

Takara’s 3-month-old calf, Kyara, is showing possible signs of pneumonia, one of the most common causes of illness or morbidity in whales and dolphins*. The first several months for whale and dolphin calves are especially critical, and we are taking every precaution, including treating her at the animal hospital at SeaWorld San Antonio.

In order to ensure Kyara can receive the very best possible supportive care and treatment, her dedicated team has taken over feeding her at the husbandry pool at the animal hospital until her health is stabilized. The goal is to return her back to Takara, and to reunite mom and calf with the rest of the pod as soon as possible.

Providing care and nutrition for a killer whale calf requires highly specialized skill and expertise. SeaWorld’s team of veterinarians and husbandry specialists have helped hand-raise three killer whale calves successfully, and we are focusing all our attention and resources on this calf. We will continue to provide updates on her condition as we have more information.

*Venn-Watson, S., R. Daniels, and C. Smith. 2012. Thirty year retrospective evaluation of pneumonia in a bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus population. Dis. Aquat. Org. 99:237-242.

Source:  news4sanantonio.com

Terrified fishermen scream as pod of killer whales rams into the side of their small boat

July 18, 2017

A group of fishermen were filmed screaming in fear as a pod of killer whales rammed into the side of their small boat in the sea.

In the footage, recorded by the men onboard the vessel, the huge mammals can be seen swimming to the surface of the water.

They then head towards the boat as it floats in the Pacific Ocean.

The pod rises and falls in the water as the men, who are speaking Russian, start laughing and joking about whether they should attempt to catch one of the orcas in the net.

But as the killer whales get much closer, with their huge fins breaking the surface, the men suddenly become quiet.

One of the animals starts pushing the boat with its nose, shocking the fishermen, who begin to shout.

For a few moments it seems as if one of the other orcas has joined in too.

Fortunately, the incident was over in seconds and after passing underneath the boat, the pod of whales swam away.

After the footage was posted online, one viewer suggested the killer whales were simply playing with the fishermen.

One man said: “Wonderful fishing day, wonderful catch, killer whales, nature, active recreation with family and friends.”

There are few recorded cases of killer whales threatening humans, but captive orcas have been known to kill.

The most infamous was Tilikum the killer whale who was involved in the death of three people.

On February 2, 1991, 21-year-old Keltie Byrne was drowned after falling into the killer whale pool, containing Tilikum, at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia, Canada.

Daniel Dukes, 27, was found dead over the whale’s back on July 6, 1999 after apparently sneaking into the enclosure at SeaWorld, Orlando, Florida, USA.

And on February 24, 2010, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau was killed while working as a SeaWorld trainer.

Source: Mirror.co.uk

Watch killer whale wash up on beach in Galway

July 17, 2017

The body of a rare killer whale was found on beach near Roundstone.

This video shows a killer whale washed up on a beach in Galway.

The Connemara native came across a rare type of dolphin on while out strolling on his local beach over the weekend

Roundstone man Ronan Davis was on Dolan beach with his camera on hand when he spotted the unusual creature washing up on the rocks nearby.

Davis said that it wasn’t unusual for sea creatures to find their way to his local shore, but added that he had never quite seen anything like the killer whale.

“I’d walk here a lot, every day with the dog. You’d find a lot of stuff in the form of dolphins or birds washed in and different things like that but killer whales? No.”

Ronan took snaps of the creature and sent the photos on to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who confirmed it to be a male killer whale.

“They confirmed what it was and told me that only 18 of them have washed in in the last 100 years so it’s pretty rare.”

“Id say it was around 25ft, I was asked by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group to get a sample today so I went back to get a sample of it’s skin and took a tooth as well, so I got a good look.”

The killer whale, or Orca as it is also known, is the largest member of the dolphin family and is known to prey mainly on fish.

Although a rare sight, this isn’t the first time they have been in Irish waters this summer, just last month a large family of them were spotted by a team of researches off the coast of Kerry.

Source: Irish Mirror.ie

Springer has second killer whale calf

July 14, 2017

The heroic rescue in Puget Sound fifteen years ago of the orphaned orca Springer (A-73) and her return home 300 miles north to Johnstone Strait is celebrated July 21-23 at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia.

Just in time for the celebration, Springer has a new calf. The calf was first spotted by CetaceaLab on BC’s north central coast on June 5th and confirmed by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) research survey. Springer’s first calf, Spirit, was born in 2013.

“Celebrate Springer!” brings together the 2002 rescue team to give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated. She was taken by jet catamaran to the north end of Vancouver Island and reunited with her Northern Resident family.

“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” said Paul Spong of OrcaLab. “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”

Fifteen years later, Springer is still healthy and now has given birth twice. They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.

The public is invited to Telegraph Cove at 11 AM on July 22 to hear “Springer’s Story,” a slide show narration by members of Springer’s rescue team, followed by a panel discussion. At 4 PM, the new Telegraph Cove Whale Trail sign will be dedicated and at 5:30 PM, the public is invited to join in for a salmon dinner on the Boardwalk.

“We can hardly believe it has been 15 years since Springer was reunited with her family. We encourage everyone to come and celebrate this milestone with us at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove,” said Mary Borrowman, director of the Center. “The most exciting news is the confirmation that Springer has had another calf and we hope we will be fortunate enough to see this famous mother with her family this summer.”

“Fifteen and half years ago Springer was orphaned, 300 miles from home, starving, sick and completely alone,” said Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, director of the Cetacean Research Program at Ocean Wise. “Her rescue, relocation, reunification with relatives and transition to motherhood is an incredible story. I see it as testimony to both the resiliency of killer whales as a species and to the wonderful things we humans can do when we work together on behalf of — rather than against — nature.”

“The few, well-documented records that we receive of Springer each year are testament not only to the success of her rehabilitation and reintegration with her population but also to the dedication of cetacean researchers up and down the more remote regions of our coast,” said Jared Towers, DFO’s killer whale research technician.

“The Springer success story continues to be an inspiration for all of us working on conservation in the Salish Sea,” said Lynne Barre, the lead for orca recovery at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office in Seattle. “The partnerships created during Springer’s rescue provide a strong foundation for international cooperation as well as coordination between government, state, tribal, and non-profit groups to benefit both Northern and Southern Resident killer whales.”

“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and co-organizer of “Celebrate Springer!” Telegraph Cove event. “To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies and nations. Above all, we put her best interests first. Community members played a key role in shaping Springer’s fate. We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve.”

Source: San Juan Islander.com

Transient orca sightings on the rise near San Juan Islands

July 12, 2017

The village of Eastsound was treated to a rare sight on the fourth of July when a few transient orcas swam through the sound.

“This is the first time I have ever heard of an Orca that close to town and only the third time I have seen them near Rosario,” said Deer Harbor Charters Captain Cameron Fralick, who was able to snap a few photos of the whales with his phone. “We picked them up around Rosario and watched them take a tour of Ship Bay, Crescent Beach, Madrona Point and Indian Island.”

The occurrence is likely to become more common given that the transient orca population is steadily growing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s June 2015 study shows the population of the transient whale population is increasing.

“The west coast transient population has shown considerable growth since the 1970s in response to the recovery of its marine mammal prey base, and is now estimated to number more than 500 whales and be near its carrying capacity,” said the study. “[Their] diet is comprised of a variety of marine mammal species and squid. Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) represent about half or more of the prey captured or attacked in British Columbia, Washington, and Southeast Alaska.”

Harbor seals, which were once on the brink of extinction due to being over-hunted, now are the most common mammal in the region. The Salish Sea is said to have the highest population of harbor seals in the world, according to NOAA.

“As the seal population has increased, the transients are coming in more,” said Ken Balcomb, founder and senior scientist for the Center for Whale Research. “The past couple years it’s becoming more frequent; now it’s almost daily.”

The transient orcas eat the seals, while the resident orcas are in competition with the seals for salmon. A study from Canada’s NRC Research Press (https://goo.gl/GB2cqJ) on predation of Chinook salmon found that harbor seals were ultimately more impactful predators than the orcas.

“ … Although harbor seals likely consume less Chinook salmon biomass compared to fish-eating ‘resident’ killer whales, seals consume many more Chinook salmon in terms of numbers of fish,” said the study. “The selectivity or size preferences of the two species are very different; however, the Chinook salmon in pinniped diets are almost entirely smolts, so when delayed effects of Chinook salmon maturation are accounted for, predicted impacts of seals on future adult salmon returns are potentially double the annual consumption by killer whales.”

This correlation is likely one of the reasons, apart from those of which are human-caused, that the resident orca population is in decline. While harbor seals maintain their abundance, the transient orcas remain to eat them.

Source: San Juan Journal.com

New killer whale exhibit to create splash at SeaWorld

July 11, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. – Guests at SeaWorld will now have the unique chance to interact with killer whales at an all new level.

Announced on Tuesday, SeaWorld released a new program where visitors to the Orlando theme park can now learn about killer whales for 45 minutes, including opportunities for up-close photos.

The new tour will also give guests the chance to meet the killer whales’ trainers, meet the whales and have a chance to understand their personalities and traits.

The tour offered daily will also feature stories regarding the whales and their tales and a look into how the whales take part in voluntary husbandry sessions. The tour will also include discussions of the whales’ healthcare, feeding habits and behavior. 

Source: Click Orlando.com