The horrifying details of Dawn Brancheau’s death at the hands of a predatory whale are not appropriate for those who are easily scared.
Dawn, a seasoned SeaWorld trainer, tragically perished due to being attacked by Tilikum, a colossal orca weighing 5.4 tonnes and measuring over 22ft in length. The cause of her demise was a combination of drowning and severe injuries.
During a live show, a 41-year-old woman was quickly dragged into the water and snatched by a ‘spotter’ who was working as a trainer. The incident was witnessed by the Star Daily Reports, and it happened so suddenly that no one saw it coming.
A police report written following the terrifying event in February 2010 portrays a genuinely distressing depiction.
Tilikum’s long hair floated on the water as Dawn’s mouth touched the surface. Tilikum was interacting with her nose to nose. Dawn was lying on her stomach. Investigators informed Jan Topoleski.
He turned around to press the alarm button, as this was sufficient reason. He observed her efforts to release her hair from the orca’s mouth, he included.
However, when he turned around, Dawn, who was 5ft 1ins, was no longer visible.
He tried to distract an agitated creature by throwing food nets into the corral and then raced into the pool as the emergency siren echoed through the enormous marine park.
Tilikum, who is now 28 years old, was considered so perilous that trainers were prohibited from swimming with him when he was captured as a two-year-old whale. He was held accountable for causing the demise of two individuals.
The pool was later searched for her lifeless body, which was found twenty minutes later. At 13:43, Tilikum was observed swimming with her motionless body in his mouth. The park’s CCTV footage revealed that Dawn had entered the water at 13:38.
The last moments of Dawn Brancheau were being observed by frightened tourists and employees beneath the water. The terror, nevertheless, was not only captured on film.
At the bottom of the pool was the Dine with Shamu area, where people could eat lunch and watch the orca show.
Descend beneath the surface to allow tourists to capture photographs through the transparent material, typically a SeaWorld employee would indicate their readiness for the massive aquatic creature.
However, while Lynne Schaber waited for the whale to approach the window, she witnessed “him drag her inside.”
She was drawn to the 5.4 tonne whale as if it were a real horror film, playing out the peril of Dawn’s glass reinforced underwater.
Lynne was informed by the police that Dawn knew that Tilikum, who was an animal ‘possessive’, had once had things in his mouth and he would not release them.
Despite her petite size, the trainer added that Dawn never let him come to the surface, swimming frantically and using his jaws to escape in order to do his best to impress her.
While Stacy Nichols was overseeing the Dine with Shamu show, Tilikum, holding a trainer in his mouth, executed a “deep dive” all the way down to the tank’s base.
One of the terrified tourists observed that the whale was vigorously trembling her body.
Witnesses claimed to have seen Tilikum “strike her” while she attempted to flee, and on certain occasions, he was observed carrying her by her arm and torso.
“Tilikum swam directly towards her, causing a direct impact to her chest. According to a witness, she observed Dawn desperately trying to escape from the water.”
Then, she stated that he “circled back and approached Dawn Brancheau with his jaws agape”.
He was swimming frenziedly, only surfacing briefly to inhale before plunging back down.
When the incident occurred, their friend saved the staff by quickly moving the smaller whales in the neighboring pools, but Tilikum was still in the pool.
“Flailing forcefully from side to side,” Tilikum disregarded them and grew increasingly restless as more individuals attempted to free Dawn from his mouth by striking the water, but the staff “requested to maintain authority”.
Tobin Thomas, the paramedic from SeaWorld, quickly arrived at the scene within three to four minutes, without wasting any time to see the surface at dawn.
Thirty minutes later, Dawn was ultimately released from Tilikum, the biggest orca held in captivity, whom she had collaborated with for a period of 16 years, subsequent to being secluded in a unique medical tank equipped with a hydraulic foundation.
Upon discovering her demise, he came to the realization that she had been forcefully removed from the water, and he noticed that she had been brutally attacked. Additionally, he expressed his belief that she had suffered a fractured neck. Thomas affirmed this to be the case.
The police report also mentions that SeaWorld staff had to submerge to the depths of the pool to recover her scalp.
Even after her body had been recovered from the ocean, Tilikum remained hostile and seemed to persistently try to retrieve it.
According to the report, it is stated that Tilikum, the whale, was visible near the boundary of ‘D’ pool. From time to time, he would elevate himself over the pool barrier. The lifeless body of Tilikum was positioned beneath a dark covering, approximately five feet distant from the ‘D’ pool wall.
The event is the focus of Blackfish, a documentary movie accessible for viewing on Netflix.
If he had questioned some people, he would have mistaken her ponytail for a toy. It is still not known what triggered Tilikum to attack on that day.
Perhaps the most likely explanation is that after being confined to this concrete tank for 26 years, Snapped simply had enough of being a magnificent wild animal.
In the meantime, six years after the tragic incident, SeaWorld declared that it would cease its practice of breeding orcas in captivity.