These are photos of Nakai’s wound.
As you can see it is very deep and exposes both underlying tissue and bone.
SeaWorld finally released a statement about the injury:
A killer whale at Sea World was injured while swimming with two other whales during a night performance last week, park officials said Thursday.
The injury to Nakai, an 11-year-old whale, is believed to have occurred when he came into contact with a portion of the pool on Sept. 20, said Sea World spokesman Dave Koontz.
The whale was treated by veterinarians. Park officials did not disclose details of the injury.
“Nakai is currently receiving antibiotics and the veterinarians are pleased with the healing progress of his wound,” Koontz said.
Nakai is “swimming comfortably and interacting with other killer whales” at the park, Koontz said.
It’s hard to look at that wound and be confident that all is as well as Koontz suggests. The big challenge with an injury like this is infection. And Nakai, as Koontz indicates, is being pumped full of antibiotics in the hopes of staving off any bacteria.
Knowing that the chunk of Nakai’s chin that was sheared off was retrieved from the bottom of the pool, I wondered whether there might be some way to try and reattach it, or graft it back on. I was told, by someone who knows, that it is very difficult to sew or staple killer whale parts back on due to the force of water constantly rushing past the skin. Apparently, something like that was tried (and failed) with Splash after he injured his jaw.
Instead, I was told, SeaWorld sometimes uses an interesting and surprising remedy to try and protect open wounds: honey, which is used as a topical wound treatment.
Sounds a little nutty, but give SeaWorld points for creativity. Honey, apparently, is a well-known traditional topical agent:
Honey is an ancient remedy for the treatment of infected wounds, which has recently been ‘rediscovered’ by the medical profession, particularly where conventional modern therapeutic agents are failing. There are now many published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process; there is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. However, further research is needed to optimise the effective use of this agent in clinical practice.
I was told that honey is sometimes used on abrasions on Tilikum’s flukes.
So there you have it: antibiotics and honey. Hope that works. Judging from these photos, Nakai is going to need all the help he can get.