Orca at SeaWorld sustains ‘horrific’ injury to dorsal fin

Orca at SeaWorld sustains ‘horrific’ injury to dorsal fin

Outdoors

Orca at SeaWorld sustains ‘horrific’ injury to dorsal fin

Katina, the matriarch of the SeaWorld Orlando orca pod, sustained a huge cut into the backside of her dorsal fin in what SeaWorld believes to be the result of interactions with other members of the orca pod.

“It’s horrific,” Heather Murphy, founder of Ocean Advocate News, told The Dodo. “I can’t imagine the pain she must have been through.”

SeaWorld’s veterinary and animal care teams are attending to Katina’s injury with cold-laser therapy and medical honey treatments, according to SeaWorld’s blog posted Saturday, two weeks after the orca’s injury.

It could take several weeks or months for Katina to heal, Travis Claytor, the director of corporate communications at SeaWorld, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Claytor also said he didn’t know whether the injury would prevent Katina from performing in the future; she’s been held out of performing in SeaWorld’s “One Ocean” show. She is recuperating in a separate pool with daughter Nalani and son Makaio.

SeaWorld said it “expects Katina’s dorsal fin will have permanent changes, as a result of the injury.”

“While Katina was near Trua, a 12-year-old male, at the time, she was interacting with several members of the orca pod, so it’s not clear exactly how she sustained that injury,” SeaWorld wrote, attempting to explain how it happened.

“Killer whales are a social and hierarchal species, so interacting with other members of the pod, even in an aggressive or antagonistic manner, is a natural behavior we’d expect to see. However, it’s not clear if this was the result of an aggressive behavior or other interactions within the orca pod.”

Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, disputed SeaWorld’s explanation, telling The Dodo that she’s never seen an injury like this among wild orcas.

“There are other kinds of injuries that they inflict upon each other, but I’ve never seen the trailing edge of the dorsal fin at the base sliced like that, as if a machete hacked at it,” she said. “It looks like a sharp edge.”

“[And] the fact that they claim they don’t know [how it happened] is pretty mind-boggling. They’re supposedly the ones who know everything about these animals daily, and they spend more time with them than they do with their own children. And there’s cameras everywhere, so how is it that they don’t know what happens to them here?”

Some have suggested the injuries are the result of forcing orcas to live in small tanks, but SeaWorld denied this accusation, writing, “No, this is a common occurrence among wild killer whale pods, as well as those at SeaWorld.”

Photos by © Heather Murphy/Ocean Advocate News used by permission.

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