SeaWorld orca subject of cutting-edge heart study

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MISSION BAY, Calif. — Researchers at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography are conducting a heart-monitoring study on a 51-year-old killer whale at SeaWorld.

The subject is SeaWorld’s oldest female orca, Corky. For the first time on a killer whale, researchers are using a specially-designed heart monitor to track the 8,400-pound killer whale’s every beat. Orca’s were chosen because they are the largest deep sea-diving whale in captivity.

Researchers will use this data to eventually help them figure out what sounds like sonar or ship noises can stress whales, leading to what they think is the rapidly occurring irregular heartbeats of wild whales.

“Corky doesn’t even notice when we put them on her,” said lead SeaWorld trainer Katey Danforth. “We took baby steps with her. And now we’re figuring out more and more and it’s becoming a way to get the research and the data we need and it’s so exciting to be a part of that.”

The research will continue for another year. The group hopes to then take this technology out into the wild.

26 comments

    • DarrinAEvans

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    • Lisa

      Good work at PR i trying to make themselves look like an educational research center when all they are is an outdated amusement park keeping whales in swimming pools.

  • Julie Casey

    Just another example of SeaWorld studying irrelevant issues that will not help the wild orca population that they decimated in the 1960s and 1970s in any way. The findings of this study are being released now to try to distract the thinking public away from all of the horrible press and disasters SeaWorld has been involved with lately (Spygate, anyone? Crashing stock numbers, even lower attendance numbers, etc). Everyone knows captive orcas are mere shells of their similar-looking wild counterparts, and studying the hearts of orcas that bob and log their days away, barely moving (with some forced tricks performed throughout the day) will not help us understand a thing about the orcas swimming non-stop through ocean waters all day and night, all of their lives, including while they sleep. When will SeaWorld understand that the truth is out, it doesn’t matter WHAT studies they conduct, it doesn’t change the fact that captivity is an appalling way of life for huge cetaceans who are meant to live in the ocean?

      • Julie Casey

        Lolol as usual, great debate from the pro-captivity, pro-SeaWorld folks. Nothing but a comeback worthy of a 4th grader.

      • Julie Casey

        And P.S.: Shamu, I’m not sure if anyone told you, but you died back in 1971 after managing to survive in SeaWorld’s death camp for 6 long torturous years, at age 8 or so. You know, just about 5 years less than the average age of death for SeaWorld’s poor whales?

      • Jim Light

        Wll formulated, reasoned, cogent response. You really added value to the conversation.

        Telling Julie to “shut up” hardly refutes her statements or does your postion any favors.

  • Martha Sullivan

    Laughable. How can studying a captive orca who can’t dive more than 25 feet give us any valid research applicable to orcas or other whales living in the wild? Sad to see Scripps institute of Oceanography once more lending its reputation to SeaWorld Entertainment Inc’s profit-seeking — as when SIO secured a permit to take 10 baby penguins from their parents in an Antarctica preserve a couple of years ago, who wound up on display at SeaWorld San Diego.

  • Jim Light

    To try to extrapolate any findings on captive orcas to wild orcas must be taken with extreme caution. It would be like making conclusions about an athlete’s heart based on a counch potato’s heart. SeaWorld touts it has released 50 studies on orcas. After 50 years of orca captivity that seems very sparse. If one examines the topics the vast majority are about how to keep orcas alive in captivity or how to breed orcas in captivity. Likewise mounting a suction cup on a trained, captive orca is one thing. Attaching something similar to a wild orca is quite another.

    This is more PR from SeaWorld trying to divert attention away from the cruelty of orca captivity.

    • Bob Jensen (@CrAzYhAwK121)

      attaching something similar to a wild orca would land you in jail because it’s illegal but you’re woefully ignorant and surprisingly arrogant for someone who knows so little on the topic… do some research kid, then come back and play

      • Jim Light

        Before you call names, read the article. They are doing this so they can attach the device to a wild orca for research. Attaching a suction cup to a trained orca in a tank is one thing. Attaching it to a wild orca is quite another.

  • Dolphins R Persons (@OurTurnToRescue)

    Seaworld sounds more like Japan by the day. Create some fake studies in order to keep doing what they do…..make life hell for whales. Cutting edge research my -ss. So now Orcas are lab animals for …..what? To help keep them alive longer in captivity so more $ can be made off of them? Or to help with human health? Shut them down says Jane Goodall. I agree. They are miserable and unhealthy in captivity.

    • Bob Jensen (@CrAzYhAwK121)

      if you actually did some research (i know that takes time and facts are against you) you’d find that they’ve tried to release whales back to pods they were taken from decades after the fact (keiko being one example) and it doesn’t work as the pod doesn’t accept them back… so yeah sure, go with your crazy theory you must have developed while chained to a bed in a mental hospital and watch corky follow along with keiko… swim back near shore for food from random people and to let people take rides on the back… that will be great

      • Jim Light

        Keiko is the only example Bob. On the other hand, many dolphins have been rereleased and they have joined wild pods. But in reality most of us advocate retiring the orcas to sea pens and stopping the breeding program.

  • Lisa

    This is such a lame attempt to try make themselves look like an educational research center. There is no way this BS helps orcas in the wild. Enough with the BS.

    • Bob Jensen (@CrAzYhAwK121)

      strong words from an internet troll… because your diluted and moronic theory is grounded in reality…. lets listen to you over scientists, marine biologists, doctors and trainers who have devoted their entire life to this field… you anti-caps are hilarious…

      • Jim Light

        Yes let’s do. SeaWorld’s former Director of Research is against captivity. Most independent and unbiased researchers have come out against orca captivity. SeaWorld and Hubbs Institute researchers and vets will never bite the hand that feeds them while they are still working for them. To think otherwise is denial.

  • Bob Jensen (@CrAzYhAwK121)

    It would be so nice if all you keyboard warriors would get off your butts for a change and do something worthwhile like a beach clean up or take a boat out and help clean up the polluted ocean… you know, you claim to care so much about whales yet you devote so much attention to seaworld, whose whales are well fed, receive great health care and live idyllic lives (based on independent scientific studies you can find with simple research)… and yet you ignore the ones suffering in the wild with diminished food sources, polluted water and tons of hunting going on… if you all weren’t so lazy, had a functioning brain and truly cared you’d focus your hate and anger on helping them and not SeaWorld…. but you’re all agenda driven and lazy and don’t really care unless you achieve some goal that’s never going to happen… so sad… so pathetic… so shameful

  • Jim Light

    What a obtuse statement. I have led beach cleanups, participated in research dives and marine animal census activities, helped in a couple of marine mammal rescues, done coastal water testing, and inventoried undocumented storm drain outfalls. I am sure many others have contributed in some ways as well. Making assumptions about people you don’t know says more about you than them.

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