Breaking News Orca Attack

Okay, last night a killer whale kept a trainer submerged during a training session. The orca apparrently grabbed the foot of the man and kept him under. Although you don’t hear too much about captive orca attacks, they do occur. This is another orca attack at Sea World

Why do captive orcas attack? Everyone speculates but nobody really knows. I’ve seen an orca get pissed off at the trainers and come onto the stage after them. Sometimes it is frustration–maybe the cue for the behavior was off or the reinforcement was not what the animal anticipated, perhaps it is hormonal, or an attempt to attract attention.

Ultimately, when you are working with wild animals you are taking risks. Animals might be amiable to humans but they are also true to their wild nature. People tend to forget thatand want to think of these majestic creatures akin to pals. Even pets bite and scratch but most people don’t want to take a closer look at dog bites and other altercations…still at epidemic levels.

My personal negative dolphin tank experience in a foreign county was due to trainer error (of the park employees). I told the assistant trainer to pull me out when I sensed and experienced low level aggression. Luckily, I didn’t get pushed under and we did figure why the altercation occurred which is something I talk about in my training courses.

Many years later, emergency protocols are poor in many establishments. Just how to you handle a out-of-control orca? Tough challenge to address in an aquatic environment and with the size and strength of an orca…did the trainer have an air tank on?

Questions you might ask park officials:
-How has incident mitigation evolved or changed over the past 10-20 years?
-What incident protocols now exist to mitigate attacks and incidents?
-Did previous incidents within the past month not indicate an escalating problem?
-What safety training do trainers get for such incidents?

More Articles on this orca incident and related tangents:
Whale Attack

Shamu at Sea World (actually the attacking whale’s real name was the dominant female Kasaka)

Kasaka had smaller previous “unwanted behaviors”

In fact, this article states that a similar aggressive orce incident occurred 2-3 weeks previously.

Frontline produced a program called, “A Whale of a Business” and looked into the captive whale issue. You can read pros and cons at this site.

This hobbyiest site includes some orca attacks.

I worked at Marineland when a female trainer was held down until she was unconscious. Not all orca incidents make it to public lists. This old orca attack video looks like it was done at the old Marineland facility. The woman is not a trainer but an employee of the park.

If you are interested in a nostalgia, here is the historic website for Marineland (still under construction). Behind the scenes the orcas would often follow employees as they walked around the tank.

Finally, this odd site has been collecting animal attack incidents for years.

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