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|Baby Shamu Born at Sea World San Diego|
Report and photos by Karl Buiter
Kasatka, a 25- year- old Orca, gave birth to a calf this past weekend at Sea World San Diego. The first successful birth of a marine mammal conceived through artificial insemination, the father of the calf is Tillikum, a massive, 17,000 pound killer whale at Sea World Orlando.
Weighing over 300 pounds and about six feet long, the new "Baby Shamu" was born on Saturday evening in Sea World's show pool. Accompanying Kasatka during the delivery was Takara, her 10- year- old daughter, easily identified by the brownish stain just under her mouth.
The public was allowed to view the new arrival for the first time on Sunday, when regularly scheduled Shamu shows were cancelled and substituted with a presentation of Baby Shamu by the trainers in the main show pool. According to Sea World staff, Kasatka presented her newborn to trainers shortly after its birth.
Sea World visitors had an excellent opportunity to view the new arrival for an hour on Monday. Trainers brought mother and calf to the close-up pool, which provides excellent underwater views from a large window below surface.
Using DNA analysis, the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed on Wednesday that the calf was a boy.
Joining the maternal group on Monday was 12- year- old Orkid, the first California Sea World- born Orca. Orkid, who often plays with Takara, lost her father, Orky, shortly after birth, then her mother, Kandu, about a year later. Orkid has since been adopted by others in the group.
For now, Sea World has replaced its regular "Shamu Adventure" show with "Baby Shamu Presentation," allowing the maternal group to have run of the show pool. "Baby Shamu Presentation" usually occurs a few times each day, with the stadium area open between presentations.
The group swims laps along the perimeter of the pool, with the newborn generally on the inside of the loop. There are numerous opportunities to view the newborn when it swims outside the loop, surfaces, nurses or during a brief break in the swim.
Kasatka nurses Baby Shamu while lapping the pool. The mother also does not stop for food, but eats as trainers toss food to her as she swims by the trainer area.
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