August birthdays at Shedd
Cetaceans celebrating birthdays in August include four beluga whales and one Pacific white-sided dolphin. That’s one big splash party in Whale Harbor!
Beginning with the most august of Shedd’s whales, our big male, Naluark, turns 24. At least that’s our best estimate. He was 10½ feet long and about 1,000 pounds—within range for a 6-year-old—when he came to Shedd in 1992. To give you an idea of how belugas bulk up as they grow, he now carries more than a ton on a 13-foot frame. But he carries it well, with rippling horizontal "rails" of blubber along his length. Naluark, who frequently appears in Fantasea, is easily recognizable by his snowy white skin. He sired Bella, Miki and the newest calf, Nunavik.
Mauyak, who arrived at Shedd in 1997 from the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., was born in western Hudson Bay, near Churchill, Manitoba, most likely in 1981.While she’s our oldest whale, she is by no means elderly. Playful and athletic, she occasionally executes elegant arcing leaps during Fantasea—not as high as the dolphins, for sure, but mighty surprising the first time you see a beluga airborne. Mauyak is the mom of August birthday boy Miki.
Our fourth birthday beluga is Kayavak, born Aug. 3, 1999, to one of our original whales, Immiayuk. Kayavak is another regular in the Fantasea show. She was our first successful beluga birth, and we’re especially proud of this 1,000-pound adolescent because she was raised by the trainers from the age of 5 months, when she was orphaned. (We’re very proud of our trainers, too, who worked around the clock to care for the calf.) Read about Kayavak’s amazing first year and click on the link to an animated children’s book about her.
Our blog photo shows Ken Ramirez and Lisa Takaki during a training session last fall with (front to back) Bella and birthday belugas Kayavak and Naluark.
Ohana, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, celebrates her fourth birthday on Aug. 12. She’s the smallest of the dolphins you see in Fantasea. She throws her all into everything, doing tail slaps double time and putting a little fluke kick into her leaps. Ohana is visiting Shedd from the Miami Seaquarium.