Tuesday, 30 July 2013

SWC Orca Behavioural Observations

SeaWorld California Captive Orca Study – 30th July 2013

I am just about to enter my second year of my Animal Behaviour and Welfare Course at Plymouth University. I have been interested in orcas and been very familiar with the captive population for the past 10 years. Animal rehabilitation is a growing interest of mine and where I wish my career to lie. In my third year of my course I will have to do a final project which I am hoping I can do about comparisons of captive and wild killer whales.

I attended SeaWorld on the 30th July 2013 and conducted a mini-study, to give myself practice in recording animal behaviour. For an hour each, I studied three individual orcas: Makani, Keet and Shouka. I chose Makani as he is the newest addition to the family, and wanted to observe who is bonds were with. I selected Keet as he is one of the few whales who has lived at most of the SeaWorld Parks, and therefore he has been socialized amongst many different pods. And finally, I chose Shouka, as prior to her arrival at SeaWorld, she had lived without orca companionship for 10 years, and so I wanted to see how she interacted with the fellow orcas.

My study began with Makani, who was in the Dine With Shamu pool with his mother, Kasatka and Nakai. Occasionally his older sister, Kalia would join the group.

-Makani and Kasatka are slowly passing by the glass, Makani is hanging under his mother as young killer whales do. Nakai is at the back of the pool
-Kasatka and Makani are doing laps. When Kasatka swims the back length of the pool, she swims upside down. Makani swims upright

-The pair change their direction of lapping. Nakai joins Makani and Kasatka
-Makani and Kasatka swim past the glass upside down
-Kalia briefly joins the pool then leaves

-Makani and Kasatka change direction again
-Makani and Kasatka swim upside down. Makani looks as if he is about to nurse, but does not. They swim upside down in the middle of the pool, and swim upright past the glass
-Makani and Kasatka increase their speed

-Kalia joins the pool at the back

-Makani and Kasatka join Kalia and Nakai at the back of the pool
-Makani is closest to Kalia, all orcas have their head out of the water
-Makani changes sides of Kalia three times

-Makani is at the back of the pool by himself
-Kalia goes onto the slideout
-Makani leaves the back of the pool and swims by himself

-Makani goes out of site
-Kasatka swims by the glass very slowly as if she is looking at us

-Makani re-appears. He is trailing his nose along the pool floor
-Makani swims by himself
-Makani returns to swimming laps with Kasatka and Nakai. Kasatka swims upside down at the back length of the pool, Makani and Nakai swim upright

-Makani and Kasatka change direction around the pool
-Kasatka swims upside down, Makani copies
-Kasatka investigates something at the bottom left of the pool, Makani and Nakai copy
-Makani, Kasatka and Nakai swim laps together

-Kasatka and Makani go by the glass slowly
-Nakai and Kasatka swim upside down, Makani copies
-Makani swims alone at the bottom of the pool playing with a fish
-Makani is at the back of the pool then goes to join Kasatka, their noses trailing along the bottom of the pool

-Makani and Kasatka go to the back of the pool with Nakai
-Kalia joins
-Kasatka floats; Makani has head out of the water
-Kasatka drifts off, Makani joins

-Makani and Kasatka change direction, and swim upside down
-Makani stays close to the back of the pool alone
-Makani joins Kasatka, they swim upside down
-Makani goes to the back of the pool with Kasatka, Nakai and Kalia
-Makani swims off upside down with Kalia
-Makani joins Kasatka, floating at the surface
-Makani, Kasatka, Kalia and Nakai are at the back of the pool with their heads out of the water

-Makani floats between Nakai and Kasatka
-Kasatka is moved along wall, Makani follows
-Kalia and Nakai are doing Dine With Shamu tricks
-Kasatka and Makani are at the back of the pool with their heads out of the water
-Makani swims off – out of sight

-Kasatka is sent to do a jump, Makani follows

-Kasatka swims off, Makani follows - out of sight

-Return to sight
-Makani goes to the back of the pool
-Kasatka and Makani swim upside down then go to the back of the pool

At the end of the observation, Nakai and Kalia are still engaging in Dine With Shamu. Kasatka and Makani are at the back of the pool

It is roughly 20 minutes since the show has ended, the stadium has been cleared out and Corky, Keet, Shouka and Ikaika are in the show pool.

-Keet is swimming at the back of the pool alone
-Keet is at the glass, running his body along the stadium jets, on his side with his pectoral raised
-Keet swims past the group to the back of the pool
-He lays upside down back the back slideout
-He approaches the jet again head first, rolling in it
-Rubs body along back of the pool

-Lays on his side at the back of pool
-Still on his side, blow hole is submerged and he turns his head to breathe then resumes laying on side

-Ikaika comes nearby to Keet then leaves
-Keet still playing on his side, occasionally blowing bubbles
-Keet briefly rolls onto back and turns to side again

-Keet leaves pool side
-Keet changes direction, swims outer edge of the pool, cuts across the middle and returns to the back of the pool, rubbing body along

-Keet floats in the middle of the pool alone
-Keet swims outer lap of the pool
-Keet pokes head out of the water and waggles his tongue
-Resumes to back of the wall on his side

-Trainers with fish and target arrive
-Keet moves, swims to back of slideout and floats nearby

-Keet swims to right gate and floats infront of it
-Ikaika approaches gate, suspends underwater then leaves
-Keet remains at gate

-Trainers appear on stage, Keet approaches. All the whales are at the stage
-Keet is fed a fish
-He is instructed to do an alien, lead by a target
-Trainer gets Keet to touch her hand with his nose three times, rewarded with fish
-Does alien again, fish reward
-Keet does alien again, big fish reward
-Ice reward
-Does alien without target, Keet shakes his head
-Alien with target, big fish reward
-Keet sent to do trick, but does not do it
-Keet touches nose to trainers small target
-Sent to do alien at the larger target, fish reward
-Trainer tickles Keets nose and claps, gives big ice cubes
-Keet touches trainers hand with nose, fish reward
-Raises out of water to touch trainers hand with mouth shut, then with mouth open. Big fish reward
-Trainer gives Keet a rubdown
-Ice reward, Keet nods head
-Trainer gets Keet to lay full length, gets fish reward, Keet curls tongue waiting

-Sessions ends
-Keet swims away, swims around pool alone

-Keet floats behind Shouka, Shouka moves
-Keet pauses at gate then resumes swimming

-Trainers re-appear, whales go to stage
-The whales are tossed big blocks of ice. Trainers leave
-Keet swims with mouth open, eating ice

-Keet floats near gate, curls tongue, leave when trainers cross bridge
-Floats in pool with head out of the water

-Shouka is in the show pool with Corky, Ikaika and Keet. The whales get moved into one of the back pools before the show starts

-Shouka slides out on he rown accord and lays there
-Slides out again
-Swims around pool
-Shouka approaches slideout, floats by it
-Shouka swims around pool then returns to by slideout
-Ikaika is by right gate, Keet is by left gate and Corky is doing laps
-Shouka slides entire body on slideout – twists around then re-submerges
-Shouka floats to back slideout the swims to front slideout
-Floats infront of front slideout

-Spyhops x 2
-Shouka swims around the pool
-Shouka swims onto back lower left slideout, swims back over to front slideout

-Shouka spyhops
-Shouka swims to left gate
-Shouka slides fully out, thrashing side to side on it

-Shouka gets off slideout, swims away
-Trainer calls whales to glass
-Moves whales to back right pool
-Shouka given ice
-Shouka swims away with Corky, does a lap around pool
-Corky and Shouka separate, Shouka changes direction
-Shouka goes next to Keet, waits open mouthed
-Shouka turns upside down, slaps tail on water
-Shouka goes to trainers
-Shouka swims around pool then returns to near trainers
-Shouka hangs right of Ikaika and Corky by trainers. She then swims away, dives to bottom of pool then returns to next to Corky

-Shouka swims away, lob tails
-Shouka speed swims around pool
-Shouka swims alongside Ikaika

-Shouka and Ikaika do laps together

-Shouka and Ikaika float gently together
-Shouka and Ikaika go to trainers
-Shouka and Ikaika swim around underwater in circles together
-Shouka, Ikaika and Corky engage to in underwater interaction then return to near trainers
-Shouka swims away in a circle
-Shouka swims upside down to other side of pool
-Shouka, Corky and Ikaika swim underwater
-Shouka swims around, raises head out of water, floats at surface
-Shouka swims around pool upside down, swims around and amongst Corky and Ikaika
-Shouka spyhops in front of the trainers, Corky and Ikaika join her
-Shouka swims away, floats at surface
-Shouka, Ikaika and Corky interact underwater together

-At the end of the observation, it is 10 minutes before the show starts. Corky, Ikaika and Shouka are engaging whereas Keet floats alone at the other end of the pool

No comments:

Post a Comment