Baby bubbles -- that's a big breath!
Above, baby takes a big gulp of milk during underwater nursing. Each nursing "session" lasts only 10-18 seconds or so, but are throughout the day, totalling up to 45 minutes.
The big day has arrived -- Katina the killer whale gave birth Saturday, October 9, at 7:28 p.m. in SeaWorld Orlando's Shamu Stadium.
The baby -- 7 feet long and weighing about 350 lbs -- was born in Shamu Stadium's main pool following a 45-minute labor. Moments later, the little one instinctively swam to the surface for its first breath. It's gender is not yet known.
It's the seventh calf born to Katina.
“It’s a terrific day for all of us at SeaWorld,” said Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training. “Katina is an experienced mom and she appears to be bonding quickly with her baby."
"Killer whales are pregnant for 17 months, so to say we've been waiting a long time for today is an understatement. We're thrilled that mom and baby seem to be doing so well. To be there when that little baby took its first breath is something we'll all remember forever."
SeaWorld veterinarians and trainers remain cautiously optimistic about the progress of the baby and her mother and are encouraged by the bonding they’ve already seen.
"We're seeing consistent nursing, so that's fantastic. Katina also passed the placenta this morning, and that was an excellent milestone for us," Clark said.
The newborn is the 27th killer whale born at the SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla., San Diego, Calif. and San Antonio, Texas. Sixteen whales have been born at SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld's killer whale breeding program is the most successful in the world.