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Keywords:

  • cetacean age and growth;
  • Gompertz;
  • body-volume index;
  • captive cetaceans

Abstract

Morphometrics from 25 captive killer whales (11 captive-born) were collected at SeaWorld parks from 1984 to 1995 to determine age-specific growth parameters. For sexes combined, the body-volume index was the most accurate predictor of body weight. However, predicting weight from total length was appropriate, although it may underestimate weight of pregnant animals. Among captive-born calves, a Gompertz model was the best predictor of weight and length at age. Estimates for length and weight at birth were done using data from in utero and neonatal calves. For ages 1-5 yr, models indicate that males grew in both weight and length at slower rates. Growth rates in males may surpass those of females at approximately 5-6 yr of age.