Spirit Of The Islands

In San Diego there is a daughter who hasn't seen her family in 27 years. Over a thousand miles away, in Canada, live her family, who last saw her when she was abducted at the age of four.

At the time of the capture, December 11, 1969, Corky's mom was 20 or 21 years of age. Today she's 47. Corky's mom had had four kids that we know of; three are still alive. Her mother is still alive and so are other members of the family that were captured then released or escaped.

1964 - a killer whale was harpooned off Vancouver Island and towed to a nearby shipyard. In less than three months the first killer whale in captivity was dead.

1965 - Namu, a second Orca, was captured off the coast of British Columbia. The same year, another Orca was captured. This was a two year old female, Shamu. But Shamu was rough and hard to handle. She was sold to Sea World, San Diego. The first Orca to be flown by air, she was out of the water for more than 10 hours, but she was none the worse for the experience.

July, 1966 - Namu died of an infection caused by polluted water in his pen. He had lived in captivity 11 months.

This is the true story of Corky, a female killer whale better known as Shamu. In 1988 Corky and her cousin, Orky were purchased from Marineland for 23.4 million dollars. In 1989, Orky died at the age of 30. Corky now swims at Seaworld, San Diego. Between 1978 and 1986, Corky had given birth a total of seven times. The longest surviving baby lived 46 days. These animals are dying to amaze us.

Start with the capture itself. Start with the terror that must have been in the ocean that night. A violent storm raged in Pender Harbour. There were a group of fishermen waiting there who were geared up and ready to go because they had captured and sold whales the year before. The A-5 pod - Corky's family - came into the narrow entrance of Pender Harbour during the howling wind and dense rainstorm. Who knows why? Maybe they were looking for family members that were lost. The fishermen who had been waiting jumped into their boats and quickly surrounded the whales with nets. They worked all night and in the morning they had about half of the whales behind nets and about half of them remaining outside. This illustrates something about the closeness of the membership of this Orca family. Because some of them were behind nets, the rest of them stayed; and because the rest of them stayed they were easily rounded up too.

The whole family was behind nets. The phone calls went out. The business men came. The A-5 family was split up. About half of them were shipped to an oceanarium and the others to different places all over the world. It was a total bust up of the family. Some of the members were released or escaped.

Alien 16

She's an incredibly rare individual. She has amazing strength. She is going to call upon that strength when she comes back home, to make that difficult transition. Think about it. Corky has been shut off. She hasn't heard the sound of the ocean, the sound of her family, the sound of other whales in the real world for 26 years. What a crashing experience. What an unbelievably oppressive experience. Enclosed in concrete walls, swimming in circles, isolated from the world, totally shut off. Think about some of the human experiences in which people have been isolated, cut off from the world, from their families, from normal human experience. Some rare individuals come through this experience whole. A man like Nelson Mandela, who was in jail, incarcerated, in South Africa for 27 years, came home whole, whole enough to lead his nation back to freedom. Then think about Corky...


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