Whale On the Loose
Dear Friends of Keiko,
Well, last Thursday was a historic day
for Keiko and new things are
happening quickly. At 6:10am on Thursday May 25th, Keiko followed
boat out of an opening in the bay pen net and took his first
cruise out into
the deep open ocean since he was captured more than 20 years
Keiko has come so far from Mexico, and
Oregon, and even the early
days in Iceland.
The trainers have been preparing for
this event for the better part
of a year -- working with him to follow a specific sound signal
a particular boat, building up his aerobic conditioning, decreasing
his dependence on humans, and increasing his reliance on live
Still, we were unsure as to how he would respond. Would he bolt?
He did great! He traveled a total of
8.7 nautical miles in about 2
1/2 hours, in 12-15 knot winds and 5-6 foot seas. For this first
trip we had spotter planes ensure that no whales were around
we could assess his abilities without the potential for interaction
with wild whales yet.
Dr. Cornell, Keiko's lead vet, indicated
that Keiko's respiration
never rose above normal during his treks, and that he is energetic
In the weeks ahead we expect to be taking
him further and putting him
in closer proximity to the pods of wild orcas that frequent the
He has a small radiotelemetry device on his dorsal so that we
track his whereabouts at all times.
It will be incredibly exciting to see
how he handles the next
challenges and whether the dream of his full integration back
wild orca family becomes a reality.
Check out one of the first photos ever
taken of Keiko out in the open ocean!