SeaWorld trainers back in water with killer whales
By Amanda Evans, Reporter
Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 09:12AM
Starting Monday, SeaWorld's trainers are getting back in the water with killer whales.
But you won't get to see it.
SeaWorld Orlando said it's a slow process to ease the orcas into working so closely to humans, so the trainers and veterinarians can take care of them.
The trainers have not been allowed in the water with killer whales since the death of Dawn Brancheau, who drowned in 2010 after being dragged under water by the orca Tilikum.
The new, in-water training does not violate the citation issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following Brancheau's death. That citation, which states trainers cannot be in the water with killer whales without a barrier between them, only applies to public performances at SeaWorld's theme parks.
SeaWorld said acclimating its killer whales to human contact is intended to "reduce the novelty of trainers and other caretakers working in close proximity to the animals," and that can also protect trainers who may accidentally fall into a tank with a killer whale.
The theme park said it's a tightly-controlled environment that includes shallow medical pools with lifting floors, and the trainers will use different degrees of interaction.
Last month, a new video emerged showing a female killer whale named Kasatka dragging a trainer around by his foot at SeaWorld San Diego in 2006. The video was used in court by OSHA to defend citations levied on SeaWorld Orlando after Brancheau was held underwater and drowned by Tilikum.