A video involving a brutal 2008 near death attack on a sea world trainer by a wild whale was released in court and is now being used as evidence in an investigation for the Sea World vs US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Trial.
In November 2006, during a show at San Diego Park's Sea World, a veteran trainer, 39-year-old Kenneth Peters was bitten and continuously held underwater by a 7,000 pound killer whale. The 28-year-old whale was a female whale named Kasatka. She held Peters by his feet, pulled him to the bottom of the pool, stayed there for a long time, came back up, still holding Peter's foot in his mouth for long time until he could escape.
A book written about the incident, Death at the Sea World noted that this was not the first time Kasatka has hurt or attacked a trainer. This raises a question as to why was the whale still called upon for performances to the audience by compromising on the trainer's safety and in this case - his life?
An excerpt published on the book's website also notes that the trainers did observe abnormal behavior of the whale and noted that she was angry that afternoon. Peters who went into the pool to start the performance described the whale as being distressed. It was later learned that Kasatka's calf Kalia, who was in the other pool was wailing for his mother and this distressed the killer whale was being made to perform that afternoon for the audience at Sea World.
The video captures Peter's struggle with the whale and shows that being a veteran trainer, he tried to calm the whale down by constantly rubbing her sides in an attempt to rescue himself from the pool. Eventually the trainer successfully came out of the pool and was given emergency care.
According to a report in NBC, after the incident, San Diego's Sea World released the following statement:
This incident was well documented and thoroughly covered by the news media in 2006. This video clearly shows the trainer's remarkable composure and the skillful execution of an emergency response plan, both of which helped result in a successful outcome with minor injuries. It should be noted that CalOSHA did not issue any citations to SeaWorld as a result of this incident. SeaWorld's trainer returned to work shortly after this incident and remains a member of the team at Shamu Stadium to this day.
After this video was presented in the court, the judge called it chilling and ruled largely against the company. More details about the incident can be found in the book Death at the Sea World.