Tuesday 17 December 2013

Orca Captures for Exhibition Purposes Began in the Northwest in 1965 with Namu

Killer whale captures for exhibition purposes began in the Northwest in 1965.

The second capture in the Northwest was an accidental catch of a 24-foot long, 5-ton male who got snared in a fishing net off Namu, British Columbia. The two fishermen who owned the net decided to sell him alive to the first person who gave them a bid.

Ted Griffin, owner of the Seattle Public Aquarium, had dreamed for many years of befriending a killer whale. Killer whales are the largest of the dolphin family, and he was convinced that such a relationship was possible. When Griffin heard of the captured killer whale, he jumped at the opportunity and bought the whale for 8,000 dollars, the cost of replacing the net. He named the whale Namu, after the town if its capture.

 The main problem was how to transport Namu 450 miles from Namu B.C. to Seattle, Washington. He solved this problem by building a 60 foot by 40 foot by 16 foot deep floating pen that could be towed by boat to Seattle. The journey southward started in July 1965. When Namu was being towed southward he emitted various scream-like sounds and on the 4th day of the trip, 30-40 killer whales overtook the floating pen and seemingly tried to help Namu. They repeatedly charged the cage, but warned by their built-in sonar they stopped just short of hitting it. After several hours, most of the killer whales disappeared, all except a female and two calves. These three whales were probably Namu's mother and siblings, and they stayed with Namu for 150 miles.

 Namu was an instant success when he arrived on July 28 1965, in Rich Cove, 12 miles west of Seattle WA. Namu's first Sunday at Rich Cove attracted 5,000 people, and by September the number of people who visited Namu exceeded 120,000. They all came to see the 'killer turned tame'.
Griffin wanted to dispel the notion that killer whales are blood thirsty predators whose only desire is to kill. Griffin knew that in order to prove this attitude wrong, he had to meet Namu on his own terms and in his own environment. Griffin decided that to demonstrate the friendliness of Namu, he had to swim with him. When people heard of Griffin's plan to swim with Namu, they told him that 'swimming with a killer whale is like risking death'.

 Before attempting the first swim ever with a wild killer whale, Griffin observed Namu's every move, studied his behavior, and noted his moods. Griffin reasoned that fear would not be a cause for aggression, since killer whales have no natural enemies in the wild. Namu should instead regard Griffin with curiosity.

 Griffin first entered the water with Namu on August 27 1965, just one month after Namu arrived at Rich Cove. Griffin approached Namu with a short handled brush. Namu did not move, so Griffin scrubbed Namu's head, nose and chin. Later in the day Griffin slid onto Namu's back and from that day on Griffin and Namu became inseparable. Griffin commented on his relationship with Namu:

"It was as if my every conscious wish became the whales command."
Namu and Griffin performed together for 11 months until Namu contracted a bacterial infection which damaged his nervous system. A few days before his death he became unresponsive to people and on June Namu crashed head-on at full speed into the wire mesh of his pen, thrashed violently for a few minutes and then died.

Griffin had become so enthralled by money and fame that despite his experience with Namu's intelligent and friendly nature he still decided to capture more killer whales for oceanariums. In 1965 he began a partnership with Dan Goldsberry to capture even more killer whales.

Namu's story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ_RVLWXmoY

Facebook post 12/5/2013

By Captive Cetaceans Stunningly Beautiful, Tragically Sad. Help Stop it Now

No comments:

Post a Comment