In an absolutely terrifying moment, a whale trainer performing a show at SeaWorld was dragged around by a 5,000-pound killer whale. Video footage captures the ordeal, which lasts for about three minutes. However, for Ken Peters, we’re sure it felt a lot longer than that as the trainer struggled without air.
The whale, Kasatka, is a 30-year-old female. At the time of the accident, the whale could apparently hear her calf in another tank crying. This was enough to set Kasatka off while the trainer was in the water. The trick was supposed to end with Peters getting lifted out of the water on the nose of the whale. However, as the audience looked on, it was apparent that Peters was in trouble.
Kasatka proceeded to grab the trainer by the foot and drag him around in a frightening few minutes. Peters expertly handles the situation despite being out of air and breathing hard. In the footage, he’s seen patting the side of the large mammal and sucking in air when he can before being ripped back to the bottom.
Nearby trainers can only look on and hope that the whale will eventually let go. After throwing in a large net, the whale finally lets Peters free. He waits for Kasatka to slowly swim away before high-tailing it for the edge of the tank.
While Peters will be okay, he did suffer a broken foot and puncture wounds around his ankle. But this incident isn’t isolated. SeaWorld has been in hot water for years about their whale practices and conditions. Many well-intentioned trainers have been brutally killed or injured by animals they train daily.
Shedding Light on Captive Killer Whale Conditions
The film “Blackfish” released in 2013 detailed the harsh conditions and poor mental health the whales suffer from when captive. Whistleblower and former trainer John Hargrove shared the “horrors” of SeaWorld in the film and in a book he wrote. He worked as a trainer for 14 years before leaving in 2012. Of the Killer whale Kasatka and his experiences, he had this to say:
“They claim captive orcas help educate people, and for years I bought into it. But Kasatka lived in misery, in barbaric and horrific conditions, and died in agony,” Hargrove said per The Sun.
He also added:
“She lived out her days in a house of horrors – and I was complicit in selling the lie to the public.”
Trainer Ken Peters said after his accident that he feels the risk is acceptable.
“I could get killed in a car accident today, but I still get in a car,” he said. “Even when I was down at the bottom of the pool, I thought she’d let me go.”