A popular killer whale that died at an aquarium here last month has been found to have lost its life apparently after swallowing more than 80 kilograms of stones over the course of many years, which led to it suffering from a stomach ulcer and pneumonia, the facility has announced. According to the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, an autopsy has found that the female killer whale, named "Nami," had 491 stones -- weighing 81.4 kilograms in total -- stuck in her stomach.
One pocket of her stomach was reportedly sagging due to the weight of some 70 kilograms of pebbles stuffed in it, including the largest stone that measured 17 centimeters in length and weighed 2.1 kilograms. Furthermore, an ulcer was found in another pocket of her stomach, and bleeding from the spleen and enteritis were also diagnosed. The ailments are thought to have put a strain on Nami's heart.
There are reportedly no study documents on killer whales that include reports of them swallowing stones.
In a bid to further examine what caused Nami's death and review how killer whales should be raised in captivity, the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium will team up with external experts to set up an investigative committee later this fiscal year.
Nami was captured off the coast of the Wakayama Prefecture town of Taiji in 1986 and had been kept for 24 years at the Taiji Whale Museum. Nami was then transferred to the aquarium in Nagoya after the facility purchased her for 500 million yen in June last year. The killer whale, however, became ill four months later and died on Jan. 14 at an estimated age of 28.
Nami is believed to have repeatedly swallowed pebbles at the Taiji Whale Museum as whales at the facility are displayed in part of a natural cove. There are no stones in the pool where Nami was kept at the aquarium in Nagoya.