Seaworld Worker Killed By Killer Whale?

I just heard this on the news. I hope this will spark a debate about the wisdom of keeping large cetaceans in captivity.
Is this safe and humane? I don’t think do-what do you think?
I don’t see operations like Seaworld as being in the public good.

Yup. In Orlando.

Dogs have killed people. I hope this will spark a debate about the wisdom of keeping dogs in captivity. :rolleyes:

I don’t know - the non-irony of a killer whale* killing a person aside, this doesn’t give me the same “what did you expect?” reaction I got when, say, Roy Horn was attacked by a tiger.

I was going to ask if this has happened before, but then I saw this in ArchiveGuy’s link:

Oops. It’s now officially a serial killer whale.

I think we can conclude this is a rare event, but that only addresses the safety concern. Is this humane? That’s harder. I don’t have a real problem with zoos and aquariums, but I can’t speak to how much room this whale had (it is described as a large one) and how that compares to killer whales at other aquariums, for example. And it sounds like there have not been many killer whales taken out of the wild and put in aquariums in recent years, at least in the U.S.

*The Spanish name for orcas actually translates as “whale killer.”


Interestingly, ArchiveGuy’s link seems to indicate that the whale in question may not have actually been trying to kill any of its victims:

What does this mean and why do you say that?

I’ve been watching this on the local news since the story broke.

According the a witness that was interviewed over the phone, the trainer’s got caught in the whale’s mouth while she was feeding it. According to the Seaworld press conference, she slipped and fell into the whale tank. Either way the only clear fact is that it was an accident.

The investigation was turned over to the Sheriff’s Dept.

All jobs have their occupational hazards. If you work with heavy machinery, there’s the risk that it’ll crush you. If you work with high voltages, there’s the risk that you’ll get electrocuted. If you work at a chalkboard, there’s the risk that you’ll get white lung. And if you work with animals, there’s the risk that one of them will attack you. Everyone knew it was a risk, so it shouldn’t really change anything when it occasionally happens.

Now that you mention it, the second case kind of sounds familiar. We don’t know what happened with this third one yet. SeaWorld and that one witness are in total disagreement at the moment. SeaWorld could be trying to downplay the actions of an animal that can be dangerous, or the witness could have been influenced by what he or she has seen on TV, so I can’t discount either story right now. The Falling Reverend’s account is in the middle and it sounds the most plausible, but we’ll see.

It’s fine to use this as a jumping off point for a debate but this doesn’t change my mind about aquariums and zoos in general. But I don’t want to be accused of being soft on black on white on white crime.

You mean to say that if you work with a killer whale, it might kill you?

If you consider the chances of serious injury or death in a variety of jobs I suspect whale trainer is not even in the top ten.

This is tragic of course but when working with wild animals, even “tame” ones, these things will happen. Hell, as noted dogs kill people too…more than orcas do (although still not much).

That said since this whale has added a third human death to its tally I fear it may be the end of him if they deem him just too dangerous to deal with (even if the whale meant no harm its sheer size means that a little light play is deadly to humans). Perhaps they can institute more careful measures around this whale and keep him away from people but wonder if the park will consider his upkeep worthwhile in that case.

(bolded mine)

To be fair, the news was asking for any witnesses to call them since at that time there was no info other than a trainer had been killed by a whale. So far it’s his story vs. SeaWorld’s story.

I meant the witness could have been influenced by what he or she has seen on TV and in the movies, not by coverage of this incident specifically. But I’m sure if you were walking past or watching the show, “the trainer’s arm got caught in the whale’s mouth” would look a lot like ‘the whale tried to eat her all of a sudden.’

What I meant to say was, the witness said that the trainer’s HAIR got caught in the whale’s mouth while feeding.

Damn stupid head cold making me skip words while typing. I blame the cough syrup.

It would seem logical to me to carry something that is irritating to the whale to trigger a release. I’ve always wondered why surfers don’t carry something like a squeeze bottle of ammonia or some other irritant to drive sharks away.

I dont think keeping creatures like Orca in captivity is very humane. But thats really a separate issue to the killings, that people will try to link to it in order to stop the practise issues.

The only somewhat directly related argument I can think of is if the killings are a sign of stress ie the whales behaviour is markedly changed as a result of keeping a very large creature in a very small area. I havent seen anything to support it actually being the case though.

“I’ve always wondered why surfers don’t carry something like a squeeze bottle of ammonia or some other irritant to drive sharks away.”

The ‘shark shield’ would cover that. Liquids generally wouldnt be practical, you’d need to see the shark first for a start.


I remember Tillicum. He used to live in Victoria, B.C., the same time I did and I visited Seaworld quite often. I remember him vividly as the local news reported how the trainer kept screaming for help as Tillicum kept pulling her under. Though the provided link mentions that two females participated, that is not how I recall the incident . It was all Tillicum.

For may years thereafter, I couldn’t help but take note when I read of people claiming that there have been no incidents of killer whales killing anyone. It coloured my attitude to the claims that wolves are not to be feared.

For those who wish to project a policy as a result of this experience, may I suggest that intelligent species other than our own have their own bad asses ?

We incarcerate and execute our own badasses. Perhaps, in this case we should have severed Tillicum’s access to our society.

“Can I have one, George, can I? I will hug her and pet her and keep her as my very own”

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

[minor nitpick] You’re thinking of Sealand, not SeaWorld. Similar but separate entities. [/minor nitpick]