Sealand of the Pacific – Wikipedia

Posted: March 11, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sealand of the Pacific was a public aquarium in South Oak Bay at The Oak Bay Marina, near the city of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. It housed a number of orcas, Haida, Nootka, and Tillikum. In 1991, all three were involved in an incident in which a trainer, Keltie Byrne, was killed. The aquarium subsequently closed and sold its orcas to SeaWorld.[1]

The aquarium opened in 1969, housing an orca named Haida which had been captured in 1968.[2] Shortly afterwards, the aquarium decided to capture a mate for him, taking a partial albino named Chimo. She died in 1972, a little over 2 years after her capture; the disease which caused her albinism, ChdiakHigashi syndrome, made her very susceptible to illness. Haida, her mate, mourned her death, and remained alone for years[citation needed]. Eventually, Sealand captured a female whale named Nootka II for his mate. Nootka II, however, died after 9 months. His third mate, Nootka III, was also short-lived. By the time of the death of his third mate, Haida displayed no interest in them.

In 1977, Sealand captured a young orca which was found alone, emaciated, and suffering from bullet wounds. Miracle became a popular attraction, but was kept in a separate pen from Haida. Several years later her companion in the pen, a seal named Shadow, drowned in the nets forming the pen.

As anti-captivity protests began to put pressure on aquariums, Sealand agreed to release Haida, but the animal died a few days before its scheduled release in October 1982, with no evidence of foul play[citation needed]. His release had been part of a bargain for the aquarium to acquire new whales. Many people were outraged by the plan of capturing more whales, and staked a protest at the supposed capture site. Sealand soon obtained three whales captured from Iceland.

The three new orcas, Tilikum, Nootka IV, and Haida II, never had good dynamics together, and indeed, the male Tilikum was often chased into the medical pen by the two females.

On 20 February 1991, Keltie Byrne, a 20-year-old marine biology student and part-time orca trainer, slipped and fell into the whale pool after a show. Tilikum, Nootka IV, and Haida II dragged and repeatedly submerged her until she drowned, despite other trainers' efforts to rescue her. The poor relations between the whales, unfamiliarity with trainers in the water, and the pregnancy of at least one of the females (Haida II) were cited as possible causes.[3][4][5][6]

Sealand of the Pacific closed shortly after the incident, in November 1992. All three of the whales were sold to SeaWorld in the United States. Tilikum and Nootka IV went to SeaWorld Orlando, while Haida II and her baby Kyuquot went to SeaWorld San Antonio. Kyuquot remains in captivity at SeaWorld. Haida II died in August 2001, while Nootka IV died in 1994. Tilikum died in January 2017.

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Sealand of the Pacific - Wikipedia

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