Pictures reportedly taken from a video one week after the September 20th incident show a large open wound just below Nakai's jaw. (File photo of SeaWorld whales)
Copyright Getty Images
A killer whale at SeaWorld is recovering from a serious injury to its jaw last month.
Officials at the San Diego animal park say the 11-year-old orca may have been hurt by a barrier in a pool.
But some experts disagree.
Pictures reportedly taken from a video one week after the September 20th incident show a large open wound just below Nakai's jaw.
SeaWorld officials said the gash went through flesh and blubber and they discovered the injury following a show.
At this point they believe the 11-year-old killer whale may have hurt himself by bumping into a barrier at the pool.
But several people who study marine mammals disagree.
One person said if it was a sheering sort of thing, along the side of the pool it may have started off that way but something else has pulled that chunk of his lower jaw.
Online reports suggest Nakai may have gotten into an altercation with two other whales inside of the pool.
But Deborah Giles, who studies killer whales at UC Davis, says while it's possible the wound doesn't appear to have teeth marks.
This could suggest Nakai may have been caught on something.
Their skin is quite sensitive, but it is quite resilient too.
Bob Pitman, a marine ecologist with NOAA fishery says while it's difficult to say how Nakai was injured, from his experience studying killer whales in the wild, Nakai will recover.
He said he has seen animals heal from a lot worse than that and it's within their capability to completely heal from something like that.
SeaWorld officials are just as confident saying Nakai is on antibiotics and could start performing, again, within the next few months.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture about SeaWorld of San Diego.
The animal rights organization says SeaWorld is violating the Animal Welfare Act by housing orcas together that are incompatible.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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