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The Case of the Orca That Killed Its Trainer 395

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "There's an interesting read at National Geographic by Kenneth Brower that probes the case of Tilikum, the homicidal killer whale, who killed his first trainer, 20-year-old Keltie Byrne in 1991. Then in July 6, 1999, a 27-year-old man who stayed after the park closed and evaded security to enter the orca tank was found dead and nude, draped over Tilikum's back with his genitals bitten off. Tilikum's most recent victim was Dawn Brancheau, the SeaWorld trainer he crushed, dismembered, and partially swallowed in 2010. 'Almost all students of orca believe that they are deranged by captivity, some more than others. Tilikum's record puts him at one end of a continuum. There have been dozens of attacks on trainers by an assortment of orcas in the marine parks around the world. [The movie] "Blackfish" shows video from several of these episodes at SeaWorld,' writes Brower. 'What is remarkable about Orcinus orca in marine parks is not these rare episodes. What is remarkable is their monumental forbearance.' For its part SeaWorld is attempting to cast the filmmakers as the true villains, characterizing them as anti-captivity zealots. The company says '"Blackfish" is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau's family, friends and colleagues.'"
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The Case of the Orca That Killed Its Trainer

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  • Ahem (Score:1, Informative)

    by Mitchell314 ( 1576581 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @08:28PM (#44473183)

    "There's an interesting read at National Geographic by Kenneth Brower that probes the case of Tilikum, the homicidal killer whale,.."

    Homicidal . . . I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  • Re:Ahem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 04, 2013 @08:43PM (#44473301)

    homo human being + Latin: caedere to cut, kill

    this use is entirely appropriate. the 'homo' in homocide is an objective use rather than a subjective one. it means that a human is being killed, rather than that a human is doing the killing.

  • by reve_etrange ( 2377702 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @08:54PM (#44473395)

    Missed a closing tag.

    Killer whale attacks on humans [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:"Killer whale" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 04, 2013 @09:33PM (#44473619)

    The name says it all, really. Orca are carnivores, their natural prey includes seals - which are of comparable size and, for all I know, tastiness to a human.

    The way the species has been rebranded as a "dolphin" is one of the triumphs of marketing over reality. They're whales, and they're killers. Get in a tank with one at your own risk.

    Oh fuck you're so wrong. Shut up, quit spouting incorrect drivel, and grow a brain.

    They ARE dolphins, and not true whales [wikipedia.org]:

    The killer whale is one of 35 species in the oceanic dolphin family, which first appeared about 11 million years ago. The killer whale lineage probably branched off shortly thereafter. Although it has morphological similarities with the pygmy killer whale, the false killer whale and the pilot whales, a study of cytochrome b gene sequences by Richard LeDuc indicated that its closest extant relatives are the snubfin dolphins of the genus Orcaella.

  • Re:"Killer whale" (Score:5, Informative)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @10:14PM (#44473809) Homepage

    The way the species has been rebranded as a "dolphin" is one of the triumphs of marketing over reality.

    "Rebranded"? Orcas belong to the family Delphinidae, the oceanic dolphins. They're commonly referred to as "whales" but that's not technically accurate. But hey, don't let science get in the way of your little speech about "marketing."

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @10:37PM (#44473939) Homepage

    Not really. People kayak around them all of the time. If they were particularly aggressive, we would know about it. Sea Lions are more obnoxious. Not that I would go out and try and pet one, but I've been within 50 yards of them before. It does get the heart going - the could crunch the kayak or small boat and find the chewy nugget inside but they don't seem to care one way or the other.

  • by runeghost ( 2509522 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @10:55PM (#44474023)
    Go read the first linked article. Then read the years worth of articles on the subject by the author, filled with the references you claim to want. This is exactly what good journalism is - that you can't understand that because you're unwilling or unable to do a modicum reading doesn't give your dismissal any validity.
  • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @11:01PM (#44474059)

    1) Killer whale teeth. [seaworld.org]
    2) Killer whale skull. [usgs.gov]

    The killer whale can weigh up to 22,000 lbs for males and 16,000 lbs for females, and be up to 32 feet and 28 feet long respectively. A great white shark can reach up to 5,000 lbs and 20 feet long.

    I saw a PBS video showing great whites feeding on seals at a beach. Suddenly the great whites fled and shortly thereafter, orcas showed up to begin feeding. The narrator noted that orcas can kill great whites. [telegraph.co.uk]

    The male killer whales at Seaworld weigh 5-6 tons. [seaworld.org] It's quite remarkable that these orcas have not killed more trainers.

  • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @11:42PM (#44474225)

    You are so wrong and your own link proves it. Let me set out the parts you clipped off in the definition:-

    the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another

    [with object]

    kill (someone) unlawfully and with premeditation

    By your own source, murder can only be committed by human beings on other human beings. Since whales are not human beings, they cannot commit murder, and by extension they cannot have homicidal tendencies.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @01:02AM (#44474505)

    If they attack/kill a human in the ocean, who's gonna document them?

    The other humans at the scene maybe? A single human alone in the ocean is not as common as you seem to think.

    Orca's hunt in packs, and coordinate their attacks. So they might communicate to organize an attack on a group of humans. Here is a video [youtube.com] of a pod of orcas executing a very organized training session to teach the juveniles orcas how to isolate and kill a crabeater seal on the pack ice. It is hard for me to believe that they could do this without some sort of high level communication. They are very intelligent animals.

  • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @03:10AM (#44474913)
    Hey, whales are people too... unless you want to use a literal definition of the root for homicidal:
    The deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder.
    Because then we would be talking about whale on whale crime... I don't care about that... "Whale on Whale Action" might get me to click... sorry, just morbid curiosity...
  • by Paul Jakma ( 2677 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @04:07AM (#44475077) Homepage Journal

    Orcas are members of the dolphin family (delphinidae) of toothed whales (odontoceti), which means they belong to the order of whales (cetacea). I.e. orcas most definitely are whales. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcinus_orca).

  • Vote or die. (Score:4, Informative)

    by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @05:22AM (#44475305)

    Users have the ability to mod and tag the submitted stories. You could have modded this submission down and tagged it "spam" before it hit the front page. You didn't. You have no one to blame but yourself.

    http://slashdot.org/recent [slashdot.org] is what you are looking for.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @05:55AM (#44475401)

    "The number of people with the opportunity to come within 100 meters of a wild Orca would be extremely small, let alone within biting range."

    Rubbish. I swam with them in the fjords of Norway. I was one of many tens of thousands of tourists that do this every year.

    This is far more people than swim with them in captivity that only includes trainers and authorised personnel.

    You're jumping to a conclusion based on a theory you've simply made up but that is false. If anything your point acts counter to the conclusion you've come to - I'd wager given the size of the tourist industry that far more people encounter them in the wild with far less experience of the animals than the experienced people who get injured and killed by them in captivity. If the threat was equivalent in the wild to how it is in captivity then tourists wouldn't even be allowed to swim with them because it'd almost certainly be deemed too dangerous, but that's not the case.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @11:14AM (#44477373)

    >any human contact with wild Orcas is extremely rare

    Not at all, there are many places where tourists swim with Orcas just as they do with other dolphins. Someone a little way up pointed out that thousands of tourists in Norway do so every year. So on one side - trained professionals w/captive orcas - many attacks. Ignorant tourists with wild orcas - not so much.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.