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So You Want To Meet A Whale by 0rcinusorca So You Want To Meet A Whale by 0rcinusorca
In 1980, Sea World San Diego had several young Orcas in the public access petting pool. A total of four were cycled through the tank two at a time. Just the thing to do with a "dangerous" animal, right? :)

I was going to college at the time and spent all my weekends and free days there, rain or shine, getting to know them. Until recently I didn't even know their names. Then at FC2012 I met an amazing person who knew them all on sight. They are :

SWC-00-7801 - Kotar - male
SWC-00-7804 - Kasatka - female
SWC-00-7806 - Katina - female
SWC-00-7705 - Canuck 2 - male

This is Kotar. It took several months of spending time at the tank patiently waiting for them to come over. I never used fish to trick them over or fed them at all. I did not want to be associated with food and the control issue that represents.

Once they knew me they would come over for tactile interaction which they didn't get from the average visitor. It's all about mutual trust, and I was continually tested in this regard, all the way up to allowing him to grab my arm up to the elbow in his mouth. They in turn then allowed me to do things like scratch a pec [ this pic ] or they'd lay their flukes in my arms for a rubdown.

The actors in the Sea World shows did a lot more in water interactions back then. Even more than they were doing before Dawn was "killed". I put that in quotes because I believe Tilikum just wanted to play but neither him nor Dawn were properly socialized for that to happen [ thanks OSHA / SW ] and she simply panicked and may have triggered a predator / prey response. They are just actors in a show, not really trainers or handlers. Back then I wanted to work at SW so I could work with them more, but not any longer with their recent track record with the Orcas.

I've been involved in several interspecies communication projects including JANUS and I can say they are intelligent, to a level at least equal to us.

To avoid confusion, I'll say right now that I am *not* pro captivity, however had they not been in captivity, I would never have had this opportunity to get to know several of them in this way and experience their intelligence first hand.

I was saddened to learn that Kotar was killed in 1995 when a gate fell on him and crushed his skull. Now I will never have the chance to renew our friendship.
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:iconcamy-orca:
Camy-Orca Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww, You're so lucky!
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
Thank you, I feel the same way.  Wish I could do it again.
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:iconragecomics100:
Ragecomics100 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
permission to cry?
Cyclo's n6 
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014
yes, I often do when remembering these experiences.
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:iconragecomics100:
Ragecomics100 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
i remember a wild orca
She always was with me when  I went to Speargun fishing
It was like having a huge bodyguard but i felt all the time
like his friend
One day she didn`t apear
When i came
where we usually always hunt
i only saw blood and more blood
i saw a
fin splited in half
I still remember her i h8pe she sees me
please excuse my terrible english
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:iconsuperdashpinkie:
superdashpinkie Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Listening to that story with Dead Island trailer music. Bad idea ;_;
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2013
don't know that one.
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:iconskyebobpiepants:
SkyebobPiepants Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013
"The actors in the Sea World shows did a lot more in water interactions back then. Even more than they were doing before Dawn was "killed". I put that in quotes because I believe Tilikum just wanted to play but neither him nor Dawn were properly socialized for that to happen [ thanks OSHA / SW ] and she simply panicked and may have triggered a predator / prey response. They are just actors in a show, not really trainers or handlers. Back then I wanted to work at SW so I could work with them more, but not any longer with their recent track record with the Orcas."

I'm sorry but this really bothers me. You shouldn't say stuff if you have no idea what you're talking about.

Dawn was not an 'actor', she was one of the most experienced TRAINERS in any SeaWorld Park. Why you believe she wasn't a trainer is beyond me. The TRAINERS are the orcas only caretakers (Apart from Vets, who can only do their job with the trainers present) Dawn was one of the most experienced trainers IN WATER with the orcas. She did waterwork with the orcas MULTIPLE times a day. She was with them every day, all day. And actually, before Dawns death, the trainers were in the water with the animals a lot more then they were years ago.

Waterwork with the animals stopped AFTER Dawn was killed, not before, so she was very experienced in how to handle herself in the water with these animals, so I have no idea why you're saying "Thanks OSHA/SW".

No trainers were allowed in the water with Tilikum, because he was unpredictable and known to be overly possessive. Not even giving up toys when he was asked. This makes him a dangerous animal. Even dogs who are possessive like this are dangerous and more likely to attack a person.
When you get in the water with a large predator who is not conditioned to having people in the water with them, things can go very wrong. Dawn was not at fault.
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013
I'm sorry you feel that way but shows back in the 1970's and early 1980's had waterwork with better behaviors IMHO [ not saying I approve of such things ]. I've been up close and personal with several Orcas and know them better than you think. If you're on this site then you've probably seen the photos I've posted. I've had my arm grabbed up to the elbow on over a dozen occasions by several different Orcas and I'm not a trainer nor had any of the "Special Training" they have had to work with them and I am alive and whole. They even attempted to pull me into the water to play on several occasions, unfortunately I had to refuse the invitation.

This took several hundreds of hours at the tank earning their Trust, NEVER using fish as an inducement as trainers do, but that's a whole different issue. These were also young and mostly untrained Orcas as well which pretty much speaks for itself about knowing how to interact with them in a safe manner. It *does not* however, speak well about the "Special Training" Sea World has for staff working with Cetaceans. A Visitor interacting with an Untrained Orca is uninjured while specially trained staff working with a trained whale gets killed? Does not make much sense does it?

I was also often being observed from across the pool by trainers from the show, I guess trying to figure out how I was doing it all without fish. Oddly they would run away whenever I attempted to walk over to talk to them to ask questions as I wanted to be a trainer back then. Curious don't you think ?

I've seen how the really close personal interactions with the Orcas have slowly disappeared and feel that is part of the problem that have developed with the Orcas. The Orcas feel they aren't as Trusted as they used to be and that is correct. It would be interesting to know how they feel about the new barriers.

The trainers don't even seem to know some of the training history of the Orcas.

For example, the incident with Ken Peters and Kasatka. Everyone was very surprised when at the end at how she very easily slipped over the net to get back to Mr. Peters. No one seemed aware that was step two of the approximation training used for the rope jump trick that was used in the shows back then. Kasatka apparently has good long term memory to remember that the net was not really an obstacle to get back to Mr. Peters. Perhaps if there had been a trainer from back then still working at the park he would have known a better barrier would have been needed. How do I know this? I watched those shows and attended the after show Q&A and they explained the process to the audience that remained.

A lot of the way Tilikum is the way he is, is because of they way he's been treated over the years. It is never a good idea to put such an Intelligent social Individual in solitary for any reason. Other Orcas have exhibited similar behavioral problems because of this as well.
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:iconskyebobpiepants:
SkyebobPiepants Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
I see this is just a copy/paste of what you keep saying to other people over and over.

Babies are relatively harmless compared to full grown adults.
Babies are very known to be curious and playful. You're not 'special'. Sure, they may have recognised you after spending so many hours by their pool (Your behaviour is what is affectionately referred to as a 'SeaWorld Groupie' ), but I also know plenty of other people who the orcas specifically recognise and come over to see them.

If you know anything about animal training, you would know that you have to use something to reward the animal for doing something right. Something they love and find motivational. Common sense. And while it may infuriate you, animals are always food motivated.

However, food isn't the only tool the trainers use for rewards. Secondary reinforces (replaces fish) can be anything from a pat, tongue rub, game and you know what else? Guest interaction. Some animals find guest interaction stimulating and rewarding. You may think you are so clever because you didn't use fish...You ARE the fish. That IS the reward, to get attention.

The problem with people like you, is you encourage BAD behaviour with your positive reactions. Grabbing your arm? Well, you've just encouraged a bad habit. Well done. That's nothing to be proud of.
It's like teaching a Dog it's OK to be mouthy and grab peoples hands. While simply being mouthy MAY be harmless, It's not OK.

You think your bond is so great with the animals? I'd love to see you give multiple behaviour cues to them (adults, not babies) and see how many of them respond to you every time 9_9

"Oddly they would run away whenever I attempted to walk over to talk to them to ask questions as I wanted to be a trainer back then. Curious don't you think ?"
No. That's not curious. You were a 'SW Groupie', and not someone they should be around. You are specifically the type of person they would be told to stay away from, but to keep an eye on.

"I'm sorry you feel that way but shows back in the 1970's and early 1980's had waterwork with better behaviors IMHO"
Please tell me what special behaviours they did back then that they didn't do in the 00's. Apparently you have a large list of what they did back then that they never did in the 00s. I can only think of 2 behaviours that were stopped: Holding a rope around the orca and holding it while jumping or sitting on them (Sounds painful for the animal) and jumping over the top of the trainer. Neither of those behaviours particularly spectacular. But please, inform me of all the rest :)

"I've seen how the really close personal interactions with the Orcas have slowly disappeared and feel that is part of the problem that have developed with the Orcas. The Orcas feel they aren't as Trusted as they used to be and that is correct. It would be interesting to know how they feel about the new barriers. "
This happened AFTER Dawn was attacked.

And remind me how this is SeaWorlds fault? You can blame OSHA and the Courts for that. SW is desperately trying to get Waterworks back and enable the trainers and orcas to be closer. It is for everyones safety that the animals are desensitized to having people in the water with them and to make it a positive experience. So Dawns death is not repeated. (Note AGAIN: Tilikum was NOT a waterwork animal. He had proven to be a dangerous and possessive animal which is why they couldn't swim with him.)

Obviously you have to be intelligent and base whether animals are 'safe' or not based on their individual personalities. Some are fantastic for waterwork and guest interaction and thrive for it and love the attention, some do not like it as much.
They would only put 'safe' animals in any petting experience. The unpredictable or more aggressive animals aren't put there. (Note: Kenau, Kandu and Winston were not part of this 'petting pool')
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
Well, you have your opinion and I have mine. If anything I was doing was 'bad' I would have been told about it by the pool monitors [ or those trainers who were watching me ] who were always there, or outright escorted out of the park, especially when my arm was being grabbed which is merely their test of my Trust. I never was. I don't consider the term "SW Groupie" a bad thing as you apparently do. Actually you're coming across as one yourself, like one who thinks that waving a toy at them from behind a UW window is the same thing as having hands on interaction time. Try playing fetch with your dog the same way and see how far that gets you. I'll just leave it at that.

Have a nice day. :)
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:iconskyebobpiepants:
SkyebobPiepants Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
I don't understand your last dog statement. But whatever.

You seem to believe that your bond is 'stronger' and more 'true' then the trainers bond with these animals.
Enjoy your fantasies :)
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
Thanks. It's having worked on three Interspecies communications projects that makes it stronger, though not necessarily truer.
Don't expect ones like you to understand which is fine.
Enjoy your fantasies too. :)
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:iconbondedwiththesea:
bondedwiththesea Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2012
I love this picture of yours. I love what it shows and what we can accomplish with a bit of time and trust. If only everybody could think like that today.

That animal telepathy/communication seems EXTREMELY interesting. I would love to look into it, it may help me break the one barrier I've dreamed of breaking my entire life. I've always been more comfortable around animals than humans. More at home with them. If I could talk to them, even on a basic level, I think it would make my life complete. I may contact this woman about that.

Regardless, this picture says a lot, and I love it, really. If only this was still around.
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:iconpresstartoplay:
presstartoplay Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2012
Orcas is not whales, they are dolphins. cool story!
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2012
Orcas are whales too. All Dolphins are Whales but not all Whales are Dolphins. :)
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:iconpresstartoplay:
presstartoplay Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2012
I know that dolphins are whales, I just wanted to check if you knew that they were a kind of dolphin.
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2012
Oh yes. Flipper's big brother. :)
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:iconrobindv:
RobindV Featured By Owner May 28, 2012  Professional Photographer
Amazing pictures and stories about them
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner May 28, 2012
Thank you. It was an amazing experience getting to know them.
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:iconmummyorca:
MummyOrca Featured By Owner May 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful! Your patience certainly paid off, and you are very lucky to get that connection! (:
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner May 24, 2012
Yes I was lucky. On several occasions they even tried inviting me into the water. This was accomplished by grabbing my arm in the mouth up to the elbow and gently pulling... well gently on their scale. It was still a pretty strong pull. Once two tried it at the same time and almost succeeded.

It pained me to have to refuse the invitations. I wasn't worrying about being hurt, it would have probably resulting in me being banned from the park permanently and I wasn't going to risk that.
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:iconmummyorca:
MummyOrca Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It must be pretty cool to feel that power! At least they were inviting rather than insisting! I think you probably would have been banned, or worse, they may have charged you even if it wasn't your fault. So a good thing you refused. Although I bet it wasn't always an easy choice.
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
Power with intelligent control behind it. It was a good thing that I had taught them earlier about how fragile humans are compared to them. Kotar grabbed my arm one time and after holding it for a few seconds, he slowly began squeezing. Slowly increasing the pressure with his jaws and tongue, which can apply a surprising amount of pressure. I let him go until it got really painful, then I pressed my fingertips into his tongue. He stopped squeezing but didn't let go, so I stopped pressing my fingertips into his tongue. After a few seconds he began squeezing again. When it got to a comfortable level, but much less than the first time, I pressed my fingertips into his tongue again, and he stopped squeezing. Through this I taught him how much I could absolutely stand and how much I was comfortable with. He let me go and after this never grabbed me harder than the level I was comfortable with. He was able to pass this info onto the others as none grabbed me harder than what I was comfortable with after this incident.

It was not easy to refuse the invitation to get in. I felt like I was invited to visit a friend at home and never being allowed to step inside the front door.
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:iconmummyorca:
MummyOrca Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
(Sorry for the late reply! Very busy week, my son turned 1!)

Very intelligent. Sometimes I believe much more intelligent than most people. Yea, I can imagine it could of got a bit out of hand otherwise. Reading that reminded me of my son the other morning, where he was testing how much he could pull my hair, and he now knows how he can play with my hair without hurting me. Although I am certain the Orca's beat him in intelligence at the moment. I am sure anyone witnessing you and Kotar must have thought something awful was happening!

I am sure they understood though. I guess maybe that is how they feel when they can't come on land maybe?
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Congratulations on your son's birthday.

What always got me is the people who came to the tank, saw what I was doing and immediately assumed they could do the same not knowing it took me months to get to that point. Then get angry when the whale smacks away their hand. I find it interesting that the two survivors of the four, Katina and Kasatka, are the leaders of the pods in California and Florida.

I've been debating on visiting SWC to go to the underwater viewing area at the orca show to see if Kasatka would recognize me after all these years. I'm more afraid she would recognize/remember me. I don't know what I'd do... probably break down and cry. I feel I've let them down in some way.

It makes me wonder with all the statements on how short Cetaceans live in captivity [ most don't live over 10-15 years in captivity ] how and why Katina and Kasatka have survived 32 YEARS in a comparatively small cement swimming pool.
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:iconmummyorca:
MummyOrca Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you.

That is the problem, people are so ignorant. They are very strong matriarchs. I have been 3 times to Florida now, and Katina is most definitely an interesting character.

Well I cried the first time I ever got to see an orca, so possibly, but that isn't a bad thing. I reckon she would remember you, but I don't think she feels the same way, you haven't let them down in any way. I think she would quite like to see you. The same with Katina.

I think they like to prove people wrong. They are both very strong willed characters and I think, despite everything that has ever happened, they are still happy. A sad animal would just give up. And I think having little ones around helps them as well. I watched Katina and Nalani play together for hours and they have a very close bond. I also believe they both know that they are changing peoples lives, and helping them learn. Have you heard of Mary Getten's book? ([link]) Some people find it hard to believe, but I believe that we can communicate with them, and in her communications Granny talks about captivity, and that those that are they have chosen to be there, for the greater good, to educate humans. She called them 'Saints in tanks' and I believe that is true.
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:icon0rcinusorca:
0rcinusorca Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
Maybe I haven't but it sure feels like it at times, but you have to play the hand life deals you. Or it could just be that the time / conditions were not right until now, or I was not ready until now. I have had an epiphany or two on this over the last year or two.

Thank you for that link. Website says she is moving and unavailable till 10/2012. I will be contacting her.

Two of the three communications projects I have worked on were taking the telepathic path at achieving the goal of communications, so I know it's an important part of the process being successful. It's how I've been able to work out some of the details on successful communication from information given to me by the cetaceans themselves.

Interestingly the volunteer aspect came up for us too. We were told that all captives were volunteers, though looking at some of the old capture videos, it doesn't really look that way. It would however explain some of the interactions I have had with them over the years.
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