That’s Why They’re Called Killer Whales

Dogs are legally required to be put down after biting 3 times, but the same rule obviously does not apply to orca at theme parks. Dawn Brancheau, a trainer with 16 years experience, was killed at the San Diego Sea World today. Tilikum, Telly for short, the aptly named killer whale was responsible for her death. In front of an audience, during a show this afternoon, the 12,300 pound bull orca grabbed and violently shook the trainer who was pronounced dead by emergency personnel some time after 2pm. Tilikum was one of 3 orca involved in the death of a trainer at a theme park in British Columbia in 1991. A man was found dead in Tilikum's tank in 1999 in San Diego. Hypothermia was the cause of death, but the man also had a bite taken out of him. The San Diego park has had near misses as well, a female orca has attacked the same male trainer 3 times in 1993, 1999, and 2006. A park in San Antonio had an incident with a trainer escaping injury when another killer whale tried to hit and bite him. I don't think I'll volunteer to let 'Shamu' kiss my cheek next time I visit a Sea World park, that's for sure!
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 24, 2010

i was shocked by how many times trainers are attacked. this is the first time i remember hearing of an attack like this at a sea world. i really can remember raising my hand to volunteer to get 'kissed' by shamu at sea world of ohio (gone now) when i was a kid.(didn't get picked-luckily apparently) the killer whale would jump up by a platform where the voluteer and a trainer were standing with the volunteer leaning over the water a little, and shamu would lick the person's cheek. wow.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/24/10 at 07:58 PM
even a tame dog can suddenly turn mean and just because a wild animal is held in captivity, such as a park or a zoo, doesn't make it any less of a wild animal. it amazes me how many people don't think about that when they visit these places.
Posted by Nethie on 02/24/10 at 11:05 PM
I reiterate; we are NOT the top of the food chain when in the water! We're not even close!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/24/10 at 11:27 PM
I agree with boing, we should send them back to the moon where they belong!
Posted by Dumbfounded on 02/25/10 at 09:19 AM gives same the average based, they say, on 130 whales caught since 1961. Mind you, they're hardly an uninterested party and they give no references for their data. So a pinch of salt may be required.
Posted by Dumbfounded on 02/25/10 at 12:38 PM
True, but focussing on well-known or trained whales is most likely equally slanted since these will automatically be the ones that have survived several years. If the raw data were available I would suggest using the inter-quartile range (the middle 50% of the data) as this is a fairly robust indication of the actual spread when one ignores any outliers.

You have to be very careful about data where groups can "self-discard" since this introduces a systematic selection bias that can often be overlooked. Another example would be looking at the satisfaction rating of people who use a psychic hotline; not only are you automatically selecting strongly for people who might be expected to give more positive feedback, but as satisfied customers are more likely to come back, they contribute multiple positives whereas unsatisfied marks will most likely contribute just one negative one. So unless you really suck at fortune telling, it's actually pretty hard to get a bad result.
Posted by Dumbfounded on 02/25/10 at 02:23 PM
Saw a movie called "The Cove". Its a documentary about dolphins, which apparently are whales too, being slaughtered and captured secretly in Japan. Anyways, there is more to it than that. It is a pretty good little flick.
Posted by Pablo on 02/25/10 at 04:45 PM
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