The Loneliest Whale in the World

Emaciated, toothless and isolated since 2011 at Marineland in Canada; Kiska needs a chance at life.

Photo credit: The Whale Sanctuary Project

Kiska is a female orca who was born in Iceland.

Sadly, she was captured October 1979 off of Ingolfshofdi, Iceland and placed in a small pool at Marineland in Canada.

On August 24, 1992, she gave birth to her first calf. A small male registered as MLC-OO-B9202 who drowned at 62 days old — and how a whale drowns is beyond me!

Her second calf, a male called Kanuk, was born. He was loved and spoiled by Kiska because she feared he would die too.

At four years old, Kanuk was transferred to a pool in a warehouse where he died from suffocation. His airhole became blocked by candidiasis (a funghal infection).

In 1996, her third calf was born, a male called Nova. He was transferred to the same warehouse but was a little luckier. He got to be reunited with his mother. However, he eventually died from pneumonia.

Her fourth calf, a male called Hudson, was the last son Kiska ever had. After losing all her previous calfs, Kiska became super attached to him. Hudson was very playful and strangely was trained to give up his sperm for future inseminations.

Male orcas are typically trained to float on their backs. Trainers jump on the whales to masturbate them and collect their sperm. Females are then artificially inseminated and forced to breed at a much younger age than they would in nature. Often times with their own children too.

In 2004, Hudson got a little sister, Athena. But he didn’t get to enjoy her much because he eventually died from meningitis. Later on, Athena would die too due to “generalized infection.”

Having lost yet another calf, Kiska’s mourning got bigger.

Two years later, Marineland obtained a "reproductive loan"from SeaWorld; a 4-year-old orca male called Ikaika. As Ikaika grew, he kept harrassing Kiska forcing the park to eventually transfer him out to San Diego SeaWorld.

Since 2011, Kiska has been in complete isolation… Absolutely atrocious.

For a social and highly intelligent/emotional animal, I find this to be a declaration of war on this beautiful, vulnerable animal.

I’m left wondering, how did so many orcas die at Marineland? How did this massacre take place without going unnoticed? Why did no one react? And why do we continue to capture wildlife only to put them in a small box?

***Here is a very heart-breaking video of Kiska floating listlessly and moving slowly.***

Ikaika on the left, with Kiska on the right. Photo credit: Sloan / The Whale Sanctuary Project.

Orca Whales are Highly Social, Intelligent Beings

Orcas have been roaming the oceans for about 11 million years.

In that time they have developed large brains, with extreme amounts of folding (gyrification), suggesting that language, memory and emotional capacity are highly developed in orcas. Some studies even debate that orcas have a capacity for deeper emotional connection than human beings.

They’re extremely social animals. Some of the social behaviours displayed by orcas are:

  • Having “greeting ceremonies” between pods

  • Holding naming ceremonies for their young

  • Mourning the death of their loved ones & holding funerals

  • Sharing food amongst the pod

  • Displaying social hierarchies with females at the top

Orcas are meant to be in groups travelling millions of miles. They are not meant to be stuck in a small pool, completely isolated, like Kiska.

It is so CRUEL. Specially because they KNOW they are making her crazier with every day that passes by. And how management can wake up and look at themselves in the mirror and be ok with themselves is shocking to me.

Did you know? Orcas have never been known to kill a human being in the wild (only when held in captivity because they’re very stressed).

What Happens if We Lose Orcas

Orcas are having a hard time breeding and getting pregnant in the first place. If they succeed in birthing a calf, these calfs are dying very young. So, what would it mean if orcas went extinct? They are already endangered.

Well…

Orca whales help to maintain the population of its prey (like sea lions and salmon).

If orcas go extinct, the prey grossly multiply. For example, salmon would thrive and because salmon feed on lots of small fish and krill, the excess salmon would eat all the them decreasing the food supply for other fish and animals.

It would also mean there would be too much plankton in the ocean . This would produce harmful alga blooms and toxic compounds that would hurt fish, mammals, birds and people. Quite literally, we could be poisoned by eating other animals.

Eventually the food chain would be decimated and we’d be left without food, water, plants and air simply because orca whales no longer roam the oceans.

On top of a complete ecological collapse, we would lose a majestic animal.

As Zoologist Paul Jepson put it: “we’re living amid a killer whale apocalypse.”

So yes, overhunting, killing and mismanagement of wildlife threatens our own existence.

One Last Thought

Kiska’s issue is just one glimpse into the greater problem there is — the abuse of wildlife and complete disrespect of our ecology.

If I may so boldly declare:

There is no point in pursuing wealth, societal progress and technologies like cryptocurrencies if we cannot bring wildlife forward with us. Because the truth is, we cannot exist without them.

It is our responsibility to care for wildlife if we wish to be a truly progressive society - that includes not capturing animals for entertainment, keeping them as captives, mass murdering them to sustain the ever growing population numbers or producing so much waste.

At some point, we have to back down. To let them live in peace and let our planet breathe.

For that to happen, we must rethink our relationships with these wonderful creatures who are our allies. Starting by not displaying these creatures as monsters in movies and stories. But as friends we must protect.

Having recently learned about Kiska, I am compelled to speak on her behalf. To defend her aggressively. I will be writing a letter to Marineland and my government demanding there be justice done. It simply is not enough for me to stay quiet.

Beyond that, I will use my powerful vote and my money to make savvy purchases that protect our oceans and animals. Like, continuing to using environmentally-friendly products that will hopefully not destroy the oceans and animals.

I will do what I can and use my most powerful vote and money to do what is right. To defend the weak.

I hope you will consider doing the same.

Resources:

Marineland website

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

B.C. Animal Welfare

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