The story of Ishmael

picture of Ishmael provided by Blackmoon2101
In the Navy!

Ishmael , a young male orca from J or L pod was captured together with about 65 members of his greater family in October 1968 near Yukon Harbor, WA. While most of the whales were released after a while, five young male orcas weren't that lucky.

Cuddles, the smallest of the five with 351 cm, was sent the farest. Until 1971 he stayed at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire, Great Britain. Then he was transferred to Dudley Zoo in Worcester, Great Britain. There he died in April 1974. During his whole time in captivity he was all alone by himself.

Mamuk (396 cm and 1,361 kg) was sent to Sea-Arama Marineworld in Galveston, Texas, where he died in June 1974. Since Sea-Arama's other orca, Lil Nooka, had already died in March 1971, the park lost his last orca with Mamuk.

Haida (427 cm and 1,452 kg) was sent to Sealand Victoria, BC. In October 1982 he died on a lung infection, one of the most common reasons of death in captivity. Sealand Victoria replaced him by an Icelandic female orca which they also called Haida (Haida 2). After a tragic accident on February 20, 1991, which caused the death of part-time trainer Keltie Byrne, Sealand Victoria closed down in 1993. Haida 2 was transferred to SeaWorld Texas in January 1993 together with her son Kyuquot, born on December 24, 1991.

picture of Ishmael provided by Blackmoon2101

The two biggest ones, Ishmael (518 cm and 2,041 kg) and Ahab (579 cm and 2,495 kg), were chosen to join the U.S. Navy in Hawaii.

Named after the main characters of Herman Melville's famous "Moby Dick", the two stayed together until 1971 and were used in the U.S. Navy Project Deep Ops.

Then in February 1971, 2 years and 4 months after his capture, Ishmael managed to escape from his handlers off the north coast of Oahu. Due to radio tag failure there was no followup.

Ahab remained in the hands of the U.S. Navy and died in 1974.

Maybe Ishmael didn't survive the first weeks in freedom - but maybe he's still out there, roaming the seas ...

Here is a Navy report about the work with Ahab and Ishmael, cudos to HaH for finding it!


picture of Ishmael provided by Blackmoon2101.

pictures of Ishmael provided by HaH.

pictures of the Navy facility provided by HaH.

Please don't use any of these pictures without permission!