The video shows the terrifying moments of veteran SeaWorld trainer Ken Peters, who in 2006 had his feet grabbed by the orca Kasatka during a show. Kasatka hauled Peters around the pool, diving with him in her mouth and at one point writes Kirby in Death at SeaWorld
, "laid her entire 5,000-pound body on top of the trainer, pinning him to the concrete for a minute or more."
Kirby shared the video in an exclusive release at The Huffington Post
, where it accompanies a description of the attack taken from the author's book.
Kirby says that the video was also "presented at trial in SeaWorld v US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in the death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau," adding that Judge Ken Welsch described it as "chilling." Perhaps more shocking, is that this was the orca's third attack on Peters, yet despite being at the mercy of the female killer whale, the trainer remained amazingly calm.
Having watched the video, it isn't difficult to understand why Welsch ruled as did when he reduced OSHA's violation in the death of Brancheau from "willful" to "serious," but upheld all of OSHA's safety abatements.
The sense of helplessness from poolside trainers is palpable, as all safety training measures fail to coral Kasatka. Kirby writes:
"Finally Peters told his colleagues to abandon the recall effort since it only seemed to make Kasatka bite down harder. Each time he tried to extricate his foot from her huge jaws, she did the same thing."
When Kasatka releases Peters, he makes a break for it and the killer whale comes barreling after him. Once on the slide-out but unable to run, the trainer was assisted out of harm's way by coworkers. Katsatka then proceeds to circle the pool with Peters' sock still in her mouth.
Today, Ken Peters' amazing presence of mind, is believed by many experts to have been the only thing that saved him. David Kirby said that the trainer "suffered puncture wounds to both feet and a broken metatarsal ligament in his left foot," and he never swam with the orca again.
SeaWorld recently attempted to appeal Judge Welsch's May 31 verdict because the ruling impacts trainers returning to the water during shows, but the company lost their appeal before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
The above image and image description, appears courtesy of Voice of the Orcas
David Kirby's Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity
, is published by St. Martin's Press
. ISBN-10: 1250002028; ISBN-13: 978-1250002020.