This video of a killer whale at Sea World nearly drowning a trainer during a show in 2006 is very difficult to watch. The trainer survives but the first 10 minutes of the clip, when the whale has his foot in her mouth and pulls him underwater, depicts what well could have been the end of this man’s life. The look on his face shows it. To his credit, he remains calm, continually patting the orca in an attempt to soothe her.
In a new book called Death at Sea World, author David Kirby explains that the whale in the video had been swimming with her baby prior to the show and that during the performance, the calf started screaming for her mother from a nearby pool. That’s when the mama whale began attacking the trainer.
The story provides critical context to the attack and would presumably give Sea World pause regarding the continued pursuit of their killer whale shows. But even though orcas have killed 4 people at Sea World, the corporation is moving toward the re-introduction of trainers in the water with whales – a practice which had been suspended after the most recent death. It is unknown how soon Sea World might return to putting trainers in the water during performances but I imagine it will happen the very second Sea World thinks it can get away with it.