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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 7:40 a.m.

What did we learn from killer whales?

(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Julie Fletcher)  (Julie Fletcher / Orlando Sentinel)
(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Julie Fletcher) (Julie Fletcher / Orlando Sentinel)

Good morning, Netizens...

In this photo taken on Dec. 30, 2005, Dawn Brancheau, a whale trainer at SeaWorld Adventure Park, is shown while performing. Brancheau was killed in an accident with Tilikum, a killer whale at the SeaWorld Shamu Stadium Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 24, 2010.

(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Julie Fletcher)

There have been multiple instances of “trained” killer whales assaulting and/or killing their trainers in the past. The orca, Tilikum, was also involved in the death of a female trainer in Canada in 1991, reports said. There were various other reports of orcas attacking trainers at SeaWorld parks in 2006 and 2004.

Having seen orca pods in the past, sedately moving through the water, I am as in awe of their beauty and their majestic intelligence as I am of dolphins. However, I have also witnessed orcas being fed in captivity. There is no way you could ever get me to feed an orca, despite all the warm-fuzzy pictures of them being fed at Sea World and other places. Tipping the scales at over 4,000 pounds, they are still dangerous creatures. Speaking for myself, climbing into the water with one of these majestic creatures is out of the question.

Even worse, what would motivate people to come by the hundreds of thousands each year to watch humans sitting inches from orcas or, in some instances, climbing into pools of water with them?

Several sources have suggested we need to study the killer whales to better understand them. It seems more to me that the predominate use, as applied by Sea World and others, is to exploit their strange beauty and majesty for profit, and be damned the cost.

Would this not make the death of Dawn Brancheau, the trainer killed by Tilikum for naught? Please tell me what we learned.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.