Tag Archive: killer whales

Orca – Blackfish

Blackfish” is the English translation of a word Pacific Northwest indigenous peoples gave to killer whales or Orca, holding them in respectful regard while keeping a traditional safe distance. [ http://notmytribe.com/2013/blackfish-has-a-name-its-tilikum-thats-mister-tilikum-to-you-kemosabe-839413.html ]

Myths: (1) Orca or Killer Whales are fish. No. (2) Orca are aggressive enough to attack humans. NO. The only attacks on humans, some fatal, occurred by Orca’s in captivity. This, one has to understand. (3) The large back fin of the orca always flaps over. NO. Only in orca’s in captivity. (4) The orca has one of the largest brains within the animal world. YES.

I was privileged enough to meet these wonderful creatures in 1978 when I and my little son visited Victoria, BC in Canada NW Coast, when the Marine Park SEALAND OF THE PACIFIC – Oak Bay Marina – was still in operation. One of the major attractions has been Tilikum, a big beautiful bull whale. All whales, it should be remembered, were kept in captivity in cages. They were also at that time thrown together independent of their ‘family’ or pod relationship, a dangerous concept because of frequent infighting among the animals.

Tilikum (“Tilly”) had been involved in several deadly attacks on humans. While at Sealand of the Pacific, he with two other orca’s submerged the trainer Keltie Byrne who subsequently drowned. That tells you: “do not play with 12000 lbs of killer whale assuming that they are only song birds.” These whales were frustrated with their captivity, their stressful lifestyle (kept at night in 20×30 metal pens), and the unnatural acts they were asked to perform for the public’s enjoyment. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealand_of_the_Pacific ]

SEALAND closed down 1993. (This facility like similar others for large marine animals had a dark history of acquiring their whales: separating them with boats from their pods and chasing them into inescapable waters, to then trap them and move them into the facility.) It is heart breaking to see how many marine parks exist on the basis of such abuse to an extremely intelligent mammal.  

Where is Tilikum now ? SEAWORLD Orlando, Florida. His life ? He lives in isolation, deeply unhappy, an intelligent animal that craves companionship and a whale family to share. The only thing it seems he shares is his semen that is collected and frozen for breeding purposes. More shocking news in a new book with interviews by former trainers= http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2175966/Killer-whales-Seaworld-teeth-removed-power-drills-left-mourn-separated-young-claims-shocking-new-book.htmlBookmarks Toolbar .



Both right here on and off Vancouver Island. For my birthday in August I wanted to go whale watching. Whales around here are mostly Orca, otherwise also known as Killer Whales. They are highly intelligent, accomplished hunters and friendly to people. For their protection around the islands and surrounding Vancouver Island, whale watching boats may only approach up to 100 yards in Canadian waters, and 200 yards in US waters. The latter being patrolled by US armed wildlife officers. Borders run crisscross throughout the waters. So, the pilots of the small whale watch boats are very careful, not to get fined or have their licenses pulled for infractions to this rule. Plus, the whales need protection from human interference.

The two family of whales we have are the Transients and the Southern Residents. Transients mostly hunt seals and sea lions, they are mostly lonely big time hunters [ http://www.orcanetwork.org/nathist/transients.html ]. The Southern Residents travel in pods, lead by a matriarch [http://bcwhalewatchingtours.com/southern_residents.html] and are hunting salmon. We were lucky to have glimpses of some of the Transients, they can go down into the water for up to 20 minutes, then come up for breathing. Different for the Resident whales. Next time I will attempt near Victoria to go out. We took off from Sidney Harbour [http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=43 ] , northern part of Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, and traversed towards the American San Juan islands. It was my lucky day. I met a family of tourists from incidentally the city in Europe where my grandmother and mother are from. In fact they live around the corner from that same street. Myself not been there for 48 years. We shared the whale watch boat. 

After that I visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. What a treat ! A jungle paradise has been created inside the Gardens, where large numbers of butterflies and moths from all over the world are flying freely. There are also special bird species, and Koi fish and flamingos in the little streams, as well as giant turtles. Arriving at the Gardens I ran into my good friend who was there with her friends, so we could share this incredible uplifting experience.