SeaWorld San Diego has announced the death of the orca Nakai. The 20-year-old male orca was born at the facility in 2001.
According to the facility, Nakai died on August 4 of an infection, after "aggressive therapeutic and diagnostic efforts were unsuccessful." Nakai was the first orca to be born as a result of artificial insemination. His father Tilikum was held at SeaWorld Florida at the time while his mother Kasatka was at SeaWorld California.
In 2012, Nakai made headlines after suffering a severe injury on his chin. A park visitor documented the the injury on September 27, 2012. SeaWorld stated that "The injury to Nakai, an 11-year-old whale, is believed to have occurred when he came into contact with a portion of the pool on Sept. 20."
There are now 18 orcas left at the three SeaWorld facilities in the USA. Three of them were captured from the wild. In 2016, SeaWorld announced to end their orca breeding programme after the success of the documentary "Blackfish" featuring the fate of captive orca Tilikum resulted in protests and falling visitor numbers.
Ocean sanctuaries are one alternative for whales and dolphins that are currently kept captive in tanks and, as well as helping to establish the world’s first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland with The SEA LIFE Trust , WDC is also working in partnership with other sanctuary projects. It is hoped these initiatives will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales and dolphins into natural environments around the world.