Amaya is the youngest member of the SeaWorld San Diego pod …

And I was fortunate to care for her mother, Kalia, throughout her 18 months of pregnancy, and was present when she gave birth on December 2, 2014 during a rare winter storm in San Diego. Amaya actually means “night rain.”

Amaya is easily identified as she is the smallest killer whale (also known as Orcinus orca or “orca”) at our park. She has a small black dot on her eye patch similar to her mom and grandma. Amaya’s lineage is impressive. The matriarch Kasatka and Keet are the parents of Kalia, Amaya’s mother. She also regularly spends time with her father Ulises who is the largest member of the SeaWorld San Diego pod. One of her favorite activities is spending time with her uncle, Makani, who is closest to her age and size. When the two of them get together, it’s all fun and games! They enjoy swimming together and playing with kelp and also spend time in our underwater viewing interacting with our guests.

Amaya and Kalia are a part of ground breaking research involving calf development, as well as the toxin transfer from mother to calf through milk lactation. The studies conducted by researchers from NOAA have determined that killer whales do not shed the toxins as quickly as bottlenose dolphins. This study and the results will help scientist to understand toxin transfers in wild orcas and provide recommendations on how we all can help to reduce toxins in their environment.

I feel so honored to interact, care for, and learn alongside Amaya. One notable difference with Amaya is her interest in her trainers. Most calves mimic the other whales and follow them during sessions, shows, and playtimes. She is so eager to learn from her trainers and will often maintain eye contact instead of following the other whales.

Currently Amaya weighs approximately 1,000 pounds and measures nearly 10 feet long. Every day she makes me laugh and smile because of her personality. We just celebrated her first birthday and I look forward to watching her grow and develop.

-Kristi, Supervisor of Animal Training

Quick Facts

  • Born: December of 2014
  • Female
  • Weighs 1,000 pounds
  • Measures 10 feet long
  • Distinguishing Physical Characteristics: easily identified as the smallest killer whale at SeaWorld San Diego
  • Research involved in: milk lactation (toxin transfer) study with NOAA, calf development study

Kristi, Supervisor of Animal Training


Over my two and half decades at SeaWorld, I’ve worked with dolphins, common dolphins, pilot whales sea lions, seals, walruses, sea otters, manatees, a variety of birds, and killer whales.