Re: orca reproduction

From: Greg Early (
Date: Tue Jan 30 2001 - 12:13:17 EST


Thanks for the compliment. This means I answer your question first...

I suspect you are remembering an article by Douglas DeMaster that was
published in Marine Mammal Science. There have been a couple of versions
of this paper, but it deals with captive survival of cetaceans. In that
paper he looks (as I recall ) at reproduction rates as well.

In fact, I guess it depends on how far back you go. The first killer whale
brought into an aquarium was a sick stranded animal in 1961. It was more a
question of how long the animal would survive than if it would reproduce.
The second, named "Moby Doll" was caught in 1964. Thought to be female
"she" was found to be a male after "she" died. So we had a lot to learn
about reproduction in orcas as well....

Around the mid eighties a push was on to improve captive reproduction of
most cetaceans. It is also around the same time that federal standards
were developed for marine mammal holding and display facilities. All
during this time, a lot was learned about the animals, their care and
treatment. So, while larger pools certainly played some part, a general
improvement in conditions, and our understanding of what the animals needed
probably were also a big part of the picture. Keep in mind that bigger
tanks generally mean bigger everything: bigger staff, bigger vet facility,
bigger food budget...I suspect that bigger tanks without better care would
not be much of an improvement.


At 11:12 AM 1/30/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Greg the question I have relates to something I read, I thought, but now I'm
>not sure. Early on when Orca's were first captured reproduction failed.
>Then it was decided that larger tanks would help and since then where larger
>tanks are the success rate has gone up dramatically. Is there an article
>someplace related to this or was I imagining this idea?
>I visited the New England Aquarium while attending the Nat'l Marine Educ.
>meeting in Durham, NH. I think it is my favorite aquarium. You have a
>great place.
>Mary Ann

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