KEIKO VETERINARY ASSESSMENT

I VIEWED VIDEO FOOTAGE AND STILL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN OF KEIKO ON THE FIRST DAY OF HIS ARRIVAL IN NORWAY. THIS FOOTAGE DEMONSTRATED TO ME THAT KEIKO WAS ROBUST AND ACTIVE, WITH NO APPARENT SIGNS OF WEIGHT LOSS.

DURING OUR FIELD TEAM'S FIRST CLOSE OBSERVATION OF KEIKO IN NORWAY, AFTER HIS PROLONGED PERIOD IN TRANSIT FROM ICELAND AND BEFORE HIS ENTRY INTO THE NORWEGIAN FJORD, KEIKO EXHIBITED NO GAPING BEHAVIOR NOR APPROACH OF OUR VESSEL FOR FOOD.

PROJECT STAFF COLIN BAIRD AND FERNANDO UGARTE, BOTH OF WHOM HAVE WORKED CLOSELY WITH KEIKO AND OBSERVED HIM ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS IN ICELAND, MADE DIRECT OBSERVATIONS AT CLOSE RANGE AND FOUND KEIKO TO BE "FIT, ACTIVE, AND LOOKING EXTREMELY GOOD."

I REVIEWED COMPARATIVE GIRTH MEASUREMENTS TAKEN BEFORE HIS RELEASE FROM THE BAY PEN IN ICELAND WITH THOSE TAKEN SEVERAL DAYS AFTER HIS ARRIVAL IN NORWAY AND THEY SHOWED NO REDUCTION FROM AVERAGE PRE-RELEASE GIRTH LEVELS. I WOULD HAVE EXPECTED TO SEE SOME REDUCTION IN GIRTH ASSOCIATED WITH KEIKO'S PROLONGED PERIOD OF ACTIVE SWIMMING, HOWEVER NO SUCH REDUCTION WAS EVIDENT.

I REVIEWED DIVE-DATA OBTAINED BY SATELLITE TAG FROM THE PERIOD OF HIS RELEASE FROM ICELAND ON THE 6TH OF JULY UNTIL HIS ARRIVAL IN NORWAY ON THE 30TH OF AUGUST. KEIKO EXHIBITED DEEPER DIVING THAN HE HAD EVER DONE BEFORE, WITH EXTENSIVE DIVING IN THE 26-50 METER RANGE, AND A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF DIVES FROM 50-76 METERS. THIS PATTERN OF MID AND DEEP DIVING IS QUITE ENERGETICALLY EXPENSIVE AND, IN MY VIEW, WOULD LIKELY NOT BE CONTINUED WITHOUT THE REWARD OF SUCCESSFUL FORAGING. THESE DATA FURTHER SUGGEST THAT KEIKO WAS FORAGING DURING THIS PERIOD.

I TRAVELLED TO NORWAY APPROXIMATELY 13 DAYS AFTER HIS ARRIVAL IN NORWAY AND WAS ABLE TO OBSERVE KEIKO'S PHYSICAL CONDITION AND ACTIVITY LEVEL. KEIKO HAD BEEN FED ONLY THE EQUIVALENT OF TWO OR THREE MEALS ALTOGETHER AT THAT POINT .HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION WAS ROBUST, AND HE SHOWED NO SIGNS OF WEIGHT LOSS NORWEGIAN VETERINARIAN DR. IVAR VULLUM AGREED WITH MY FINDINGS REGARDING KEIKO'S HEALTH AND CONDITION.

FOR KEIKO TO SUSTAIN HIS WEIGHT AND CONDITION DURING THIS PERIOD OF EXTENSIVE ACTIVITY, IT IS MY VIEW THAT HE WOULD NEED TO HAVE MAINTAINED A FOOD LEVEL OF AN AVERAGE OF 125-150 LBS OF FISH PER DAY. OVER THIS 56-DAY PERIOD, MY ASSESSMENT IS THAT IF HE WERE NOT ABLE TO FEED ON HIS OWN, I WOULD HAVE EXPECTED TO SEE SIGNIFICANT, EASILY OBSERVABLE, AND POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC WEIGHT LOSS. IT WOULD MANIFEST IN EMACIATION AND SEVERE INDENTATION BEHIND THE HEAD AND IN THE RIB AREAS. NO SUCH CONDITIONS WERE OBSERVED. OTHER HISTORICAL INSTANCES OF ORCA FOOD DEPRIVATION HAVE RESULTED IN MARKED PHYSICAL CHANGES AND EVEN MORTALITY. FURTHER, BASED ON MY PROFESSIONAL VETERINARY EXPERIENCE, HAD KEIKO NOT BEEN ABLE TO FEED HIMSELF OVER THIS 56 DAY PERIOD, I WOULD HAVE EXPECTED TO OBSERVE SIGNIFICANT DECREASES IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, EXTENSIVE LOGGING BEHAVIOR, AN ABSENCE OF DEEP DIVING, AND SIGNS OF DISORIENTATION. NO SUCH CONDITIONS WERE OBSERVED.

BASED ON MY PROFESSIONAL OPINION THERE IS OVERWHELMING AND CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE THAT KEIKO FORAGED SUCCESSFULLY AND WAS ABLE TO SUSTAIN HIMSELF IN THE WILD DURING THE SUMMER OF 2002.

I AM UNAWARE OF ANY SCIENTIST OR VETERINARIAN WITH EVEN A RUDIMENTARY UNDERSTANDING OF ORCA WHALES WHO COULD CREDIBLY CLAIM THAT KEIKO COULD UNDERTAKE SUCH ACTIVITY AND ARRIVE IN THE CONDITION THAT HE DID WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO FEED HIMSELF.