With the Seaworld vs. OSHA hearing finally coming to close, we all anxiously await a verdict. Most of us are familiar with the citation that OSHA gave Seaworld, saying that waterworks should not be allowed until proper safety precautions are taken. But the goverment cited Seaworld for 2 other violations including: subjecting the trainers to falls by failing to install railing on the stairs at Shamu Stadium, and electrical receptacles of Shamu Stadium exposed to the elements also putting the trainers at risk of being electrocuted.
In 2006 an orca whale named Kasatka dragged a trainer underwater at a California Seaworld Park. OSHA investigated the accident and wrote an 18 page report citing several safety violations commited by Seaworld Corporation stating: “swimming with captive orcas is inherently dangerous and if someone hasn’t been killed already it is only a matter of time before it does happen.” Seaworld protested the report and forced OSHA to rewrite, claiming that they were in no position to criticize Seaworld given that they are not experts on captive killer whales or the safety involved in training. OSHA backed down, and the report was rewritten on 8 pages.
On December 24, 2009, Alexis Martinez, a trainer at the Spanish zoo, Loro Parque, was killed. The autopsy revealed that Alexis died by mechanical asphyxiation, his chest and internal organs crushed in the jaws of Keto- a Seaworld killer whale.
When Seaworld heard the news, they responded with what was seemingly concern, prohibiting waterwork with the whales at their parks. Animal-training curator Kelly Flaherty-Clark reviewed the video of Martinez death. When she decided that “the level of experience of trainers at that park did not mirror the level at [my] park,” she allowed her “more experienced” trainers back into the water with the whales less than 48 hours after they had been prohibited.
Exactly 2 months later on Febuary 24, 2010, Dawn Brancheau died of drowning and traumatic injuries at Seaworld Orlando, when Tilikum attacked her, tearing off her scalp and arm inflicting blunt force injuries. This time there were investigations by OSHA, the Sherrif’s Departments, and the USDA. OSHA published their findings, citing Seaworld for willfully exposing their trainers to “struck-by and drowning hazards,” by allowing them to perform in the water with killer whales. Seaworld again, protests the reports and contests their findings in court.
All 3 of these instances reveal that Seaworld either doesn’t want to change their safety protocols or doesn’t care. Right now they are apparently working on rising the floors of the tank in case of an emergancy, or emergancy oxegyn supplies for the trainers. These actions are being taken ONLY after several deaths by Seaworld’s whales, countless attacks, and finally- the goverment dragging Seaworld Corporation, kicking and screaming.
At the moment the trainers are not allowed in the water with the whales until appropriate safety measures are taken by Seaworld. If a trainer were to be attacked by a whale, a spotter would ring an alarm and throw a rope or a net into the tank and hope for the best. Such a primitive safety system for a company that brings millions in profit.