Corky Update - September 1998
Keiko's move from Oregon
We're not sure how many of you were sitting on the edge of your chairs watching, or hunched over a computer screen, as we were, following the saga of Keiko's move from his tank in Oregon to a his sea pen "half way house" in Iceland just over a week ago... but it was a story that made headline news around the world, and our hearts VERY glad. Keiko's move was scripted as completely & complexly as the movie that gave him this chance... with major roles being played by the U.S. Air Force (TWO mid air refuelings of the giant plane that carried Keiko non stop from Newport to the Westman Islands) and UPS, the courier that carried Keiko on his previous journey from Mexico City to Newport. There was even a very tense moment as the plane touched down, bursting tires and damaging a wing strut, but Keiko remained secure on his water bed (inside a fancy carrying crate) and arrived in great shape. The moment he hit the water he gave it a huge whack with his flukes and dove below. He was gone for 15', exploring the football field-sized pen that is his new home, vocalising frequently as he swam (more than he ever had in Newport) and when he came back up, he ate. Soon afterwards, a pilot whale swam into the bay & exchanged vocalisations with Keiko, a good sign, perhaps, of what is to come when the news gets out & around the neighbourhood that KEIKO IS BACK! In the week that followed, a minke whale & two harbour porpoises have visited Keiko's bay, and he has eaten his first live Icelandic fish in a long long time. There's no question about it... Keiko is doing GREAT and is well on the way to that ultimate goal/dream that we share for all the captives... FREEDOM!
On the other side of captive life, we received an email update from our friend Lori in San Diego a couple of days ago... and can tell you that despite her now nearly 29 years surrounded by concrete, Corky looks fine, better than she has in quite a while. Here's Lori's report:
"Well today I spent the day with Corky, I was expecting to be totally deflated due to the fact that I just spent 80 days with her family in the wild waters of British Columbia. But I was pleasantly surprized, her spirits were up, relaxed, and getting along well with her tank mates for most of the day, Splash and Takara. They did the show, which is new....and even Ulysses and Orkid were very active in the show, Ulysses doing some new things, and looking so good, very expressive. Corky had no new rake marks, which is a relief... in June she had quite a few from Kasaka, who earlier in the year gave her a new nick in her dorsal fin. So today in the life of a captive Orca named A16, life seemed pretty harmonious. All the images of her family still fresh in my mind, I could see Corky's true beauty, the way she surfaces, she exuberates so much like a wild whale, a lot like her brother A27, who is very full of life, and her aunt A8, who made a point of making herself noticed over the summer in the Johnstone Strait. So in my eyes, she is strong...and waiting for her turn, and hoping we will make the journey with her...so please keep her in your thoughts."
Some of the A5 pod (Corky's family) have been in Johnstone Strait virtually every day this summer. Corky's mother & siblings, the A23 subpod, have visited occasionally, not staying long, but leaving us with the impression that they are strong and doing well, too. Corky's sister's baby, Midsummer, now over a year old, looks spunky, and just great. Stripe (Corky's mum) looks as energetic as ever. The old injury on her right side appears completely healed (a couple of years ago it was seeping blood). Our favourite summer of '98 memory of Corky's family comes from July 23rd. It being a Free Corky! Day on Hanson Island (& the 23rd to boot), it may have been no more than appropriate that the A23s came down Blackfish Sound at the precise moment we were describing the plan to make Freshwater Bay her "halfway house". The timing of the casual entrance, the first of the summer, took our breath away. The next day, at precisely the time (11am) we had planned to put the Hanson Island section of CORKY'S FREEDOM BANNER up at the back of our bay (but hadn't yet done so) Stripe brought her family by again, right next to our shore... and causing us to scramble into action. The BANNER was up by noon!
Altogether, though we know Corky is still "inside" and we know that Sea World & Anheuser Busch are as determined as ever to keep her there, we remain as sure as ever that Corky will one day get the same chance that Keiko has now. The fact that Keiko has made it back to Iceland gives us renewed energy, and hope... not just for Corky, but for Lolita, the Taiji Three, and all the other captives too.
More good news... "Thursday's Child", Michael Reppy's ocean racing yacht, will soon be sailing back across the Pacific in pursuit of FREEDOM for Corky & all the captives. Within a few weeks she will be in dry dock in San Diego, being readied for sea. The refit work will include painting the hull with a powerful orca design created and donated by Alert Bay, B.C. native artist William Wasden. William has generously given the project another fanstastic piece of art (an orca coming right at you, quite enough to send shivers up your spine) to help raise funds via t-shirt sales etc. It goes without saying (but we will) that Michael needs real help with his selfless project... we urge those of you who are able to help to do so. You can contact Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's keep the vision strong!
cheers & our best to you all,
Paul & Helena.