Unless you’re a SeaWorld fanatic, you probably didn’t know that September 26th is National Shamu the Whale Day, but the big day is finally here! To celebrate, here are four things you likely don’t know about Shamu the whale.
1. The Shamu family has 20 whales between the three SeaWorld parks.
Between the three SeaWorld parks, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, and SeaWorld San Diego, there are a total of 20 orcas. Seaworld Orlando has five: Katina, Malia, Nalani, Makaio, and Trua. Katina is the matriarch of the pod, while Malia and Nalani are 12 and 13 years old respectively and were born at SeaWorld Orlando. Trua is also a 13-year-old male orca who was born at SeaWorld Orlando. Makaio is the baby of the SeaWorld Orlando family. Born in 2010, the whale has a Hawaiian name that means “Gift of God.” He was certainly a gift for the SeaWorld family after the rough year they had in 2010, when they lost multiple whales and a trainer.
SeaWorld San Antonio, like Orlando, has five whales at their park: Takara, Kyuquot, Tuar, Sakari, and Kamea.
Takara is 28 years old and has had five calves, four of which are alive today. Kyuquot, the largest whale at SeaWorld San Antonio, was born outside of the SeaWorld parks, at Sealand Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Tuar, a 20-year-old male, is the son of Kalina and Tilikum, who have both passed. Sakari, born in 2010, is 9 years old. The youngest member of the SeaWorld San Antonio pod is Kamea, an energetic 5-year-old whose name means “precious one” in Hawaiian. She is five years old and full of energy. Sakari is her half-sister.
SeaWorld San Diego has the largest pod with a total of ten whales, double the size of the other two pods. The oldest whale in the San Diego pod is Corky 2, who at 52 years old is one of the only remaining whales not born in captivity. Orkid, Corky’s adopted daughter, is 30 years old and very special to the SeaWorld San Diego family because she was the first successful birth at the park, as well as holds the record as the oldest captive-born orca at SeaWorld. Orkid can often be seen hanging out with Ulises, the largest (9, 570 lbs.) and oldest (41 years old) male orca in captivity. These notable whales join 7 others to form SeaWorld San Diego’s pod.
2. The original Shamu died in 1970.
The original Shamu, the first orca to arrive at SeaWorld, was captured in the US on October 31, 1965. Her captors expected her to stay with a male orca named Namu, but the two fought, so the captors sold Namu, (now Shamu) to SeaWorld. At SeaWorld San Diego, Shamu participated in shows and performed tricks. Since Shamu’s death in 1971, “Shamu” has been the stage name for all of the orcas (and orca-related attractions) throughout the parks.
Shamu’s name became a stage name throughout the parks after her death, but SeaWorld staff nicknamed Katina’s first calf “the original baby Shamu.”
3. SeaWorld’s whales are no longer taken from the wild.
In fact, only three of SeaWorld’s current orcas, Katina, Corky, and Ulises, weren’t born in US captivity.
4. There have been 16 different Shamu shows since the parks opened.
The first Shamu show, Shamu Goes to Hollywood, came into fruition in 1971. 3 years later, Shamu for Mayor replaced the original show, and a variety of shows followed that one, too. Although all of these shows featured Shamu, they each had a different focus. Shamu Adventure, for instance, educated its audience about wild orcas and their behaviors. Believe, by contrast, focused on the connections that the trainers made with the whales. Many of the shows have allowed audience participation.
One Ocean is the current Shamu show. Although SeaWorld stopped permitting waterworks after its 2010 trainer death, the show is still plenty entertaining. Shamu, however, is no longer the whales’ stage name. In other words, trainers refer to the orcas by their given names throughout the show.
I hope that you’ve learned a thing or two about the Shamu family this Shamu the Whale Day! Today, educate others about the history of SeaWorld’s most famous whales, and celebrate the legacy of Shamu!
Featured Photo via Pexels