Well...the short answer is VERY carefully. You are right, though, there are
some reasons to transport marine mammals, and it is done quite frequently by
some zoos and aquariums, as well as folks working to help stranded animals.
In the case of stranded animals, animals may be moved to relocate them for
treatment or release, and one of the logistical imitations in a stranding is
how able to move the stranded animals you are. Personally, the biggest
animals I have moved have been pilot whales. Killer whales are quite a bit
larger but some of the basic principles are the same.
Generally the instructions for moving a pilot whale (if anyone ever wrote
such things up) would read "First, find twenty to thirty people with no back
problems..." (in fact it does take about twenty to thirty people to lift a
pilot whale...about 1500 pounds or so). The basic things you have to deal
with, then, are the weight of the animal, keeping the animal supported (and
comfortable) and keeping the animal cool. Keeping a whale wet during
transport is good as well but not as important as you might think, and the
reason for using less water will show up in a minute.
A killer whale weighs somewhere around five tons or so (depends on the age
and sex). This sounds like a lot but consider for a minute how much the
water you might want to move would weigh. A gallon of water weighs about
8.345 pounds. So how many gallons of water are you going to want to
transport to keep your whale comfortable (or how much weight are you looking
to add to your five tons?). Figure your whale might be about twenty feet
long and you want to put it in a tank that is about ten feet wide and ten
feet deep...this would sort of just cover the whale all around. You would
be looking at 20 X 10 X 10 or about 2,000 cubic feet of water. A cubic foot
of water weighs about 62.42 pounds....so you are looking at moving about
62.42 tons of water just to keep your 5 ton whale wet.
You can probably see why a lot of transports are done "dry" or "semi-dry",
that is supporting the whale on special stretchers and foam pads. These are
lighter and support the whale without the water weight. Plus you can
imagine the problems a transport plane might have dealing with fifty tons or
so of water sloshing around the cargo hold.
Keeping the whale cool, is another issue, as whales are designed to conserve
heat in water, and when removed from water will tend to warm up. They cool
themselves using a nifty heat exchange system through their flukes, fins and
the back of their tail stocks. So it is really just a matter of chilling
(with cold water or ice) those parts of the whales body.
A whales skin will dry out over time, but it can also be kept damp with a
small bit of water, or some water based skin lubricants.
Anyway, those are the basic issues, people have moved whales by truck,
train, by air, and in some cases have hand carried some small whales, so
there are all sorts of variations. For the particulars, you might try
Seaworlds website (or check out the San Antonio Park). Another likely place
would be to check one of the many sites about Keiko the killer whale that
was transported with much publicity from Oregon to Iceland a few years back.
From: Debbie Termin [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2001 7:37 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Need help on finding some information
My name is Jennifer Termin. I am a student at the University of Texas in
Arlington. I am in a transportation economics class and am doing a research
project on how different business transport items. My group decided to do
seaworld because we thought it would be interesting on how one would
actually transport a mammal such as a killer whale. If you could provide me
with any information or sites I could go to it would be greatly appreciated.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Feb 25 2002 - 21:06:00 EST