Shaka: Wild-caught and housed at the Georgia Aquarium

Shaka Georgia Aquarium phinventory

Shaka, wild-caught, approximately 27 years old

Shaka was wild-caught.

On May 27, 1988, she ceased living with her pod, and became M88-F1, aka NOA0003745, and the hope of a captive dolphin breeding program for Dolphin Quest and other dolphin display, show and encounter organizations, like the Georgia Aquarium, where she is housed today.

She arrived at either Dolphin Quest Bermuda or Dolphin Quest Hawaii on August 20, 1988.  Where was she for those 86 days?  The lack of clarity arises in the inadequacy of record-keeping, and I’m not certain how one really discovers the facts of dolphin capture, breeding and transport.  Ceta-base is fundamental to research about dolphin birth, transport and death.

Estimated to have been born in 1985, Shaka has been used to breed dolphins for the captive industry.

At least two of her offspring are now living in captivity.

If the records are accurate, it appears that Lokahi and Kolohe are twins, born four days apart.  It is possible that Shaka’s keepers did not realize that she was still carrying Kolohe.  And it is not impossible that the twin birthing process can proceed over this period of time.  Twinning is dolphins is rare, no greater than 1% of pregnancies.  It is a testament to Shaka’s strength that both boys lived, if indeed, the records attributing both boys to Shaka and their dates of birth are accurate.

After the births of Kolohe and Lokahi, Shaka is reported to have lost at least two calves in this effort to breed and supply more captive dolphins:

  • a female stillborn calf was born on September 26, 1996, sired by Hobi, and
  • a female calf, also sired by Hobi, born on November 3, 1997, who lived 16 days, and died on November 19, 1997.

No records indicate that Shaka subsequently became pregnant or gave birth to more dolphins.   Dolphins generally breed only once every five years, because in the wild, the calves nurse from three to 10 years and stay with their mother continuing to learn how to be a dolphin.

So Shaka was busy.  Too busy, I’d say.  Let’s see.  In the wild, they generally give birth only once every five years.  Shaka gave birth to four calves in three years.

Let’s see:

  • July 8, 1994 – Lokahi
  • July 12, 1994 – Kolohe
  • September 26, 1996 – stillborn female calf
  • November 3, 1997 – female calf, died November 19, 1997

Does that sound like care was taken of Shaka to ensure that her health and vitality were safeguarded?

Nah.  It doesn’t to me either.

So now, she is held at the Georgia Aquarium, where she gets to do stuff like get filmed by CNN picking the Superbowl winner.

And remember, it is the dolphin show that REQUIRES that dolphins like Shaka keep churning out babies.

Ready to take that pledge not to go to a dolphin show?

For more information about the 11 dolphins housed at the Georgia Aquarium, and future educational events, “like” the Facebook page of Free the Atlanta 11.

Thanks to Ceta-base and and the other linked sites for the information in this story.

2 responses to “Shaka: Wild-caught and housed at the Georgia Aquarium

  1. Your facts are off regarding twin births. kolohe was born to Shaka, while Leilani gave birth to Lokahi. Shaka spent her first years at Dolphin Quest Waikoloa (Hawaii). I know this because I was a trainer there and had the pleasure of working with her.

    • Thank you for that. These aren’t “my” facts, but were taken from the Marine Mammal Inventory Sheets, and information complied on a database. As you are likely aware, the information about dolphin genealogy and progeny is sometimes very spotty, so direct information from individuals like you is very important, and valued. THANK YOU again.

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