Two of the most frightening things in the world are giant sea creatures and water parks, so why someone decided to combine those two things and create SeaWorld boggles the mind. Judging by how often terrible things happen at SeaWorld, the best you can hope for is to show up on a day that there's a 12-car pile up, because the alternative seems to be a trainer being drowned by an orca. This list of the most awful SeaWorld accidents and most brutal SeaWorld deaths is going to have you turning in your season pass faster than you can say "Blacfkfish."
Not all of the people on this list were bludgeoned by stray bits of park machinery or swallowed whole by imprisoned animals; some of them just suffered the misfortune of floating in a lazy river during a freak lightning storm or sitting in the fifth row during the Baywatch-themed water show.From Sea World Orlando to Sea World San Diego, there have sadly been all too many deaths and accidents at SeaWorld parks. Read on to learn more about these tragic SeaWorld deaths, injuries, and incidents and remember that as cute as Sea World animals seem, there is a dark side to these amusement parks.
The Corpse Of A Homeless Man Was Found On A Whale's Back In Orlando
On July 6, 1999, a 27-year-old homeless man named Daniel Dukes was found naked in a tank, draped over the back of a killer whale named Tilikum. He visited SeaWorld the previous day, evaded security to stay after the park closed, and entered the orca tank. The coroner's report found that his testicles had been torn off, and he sustained scrapes, bruises, and puncture wounds.
Tilikum Famously Drowned Trainer Dawn Brancheau
On February 24, 2010, Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer with 16 years of SeaWorld experience died in an accident involving Tilikum. SeaWorld's head of animal training said that during a rubdown after the show Tilikum pulled the trainer into the water by her ponytail and held her under the water until she drowned. Some eye witnesses recall the event differently, however—some whale experts have disputed SeaWorld's claim that the whale grabbed hold of Brancheau's ponytail, noting the detail in the autopsy report that her left arm was torn off.
A Killer Whale Beached Herself
In 2016, Morgan, an orca at SeaWorld-owned Loro Parque in the Spain, fully beached herself on the concrete side of her pool. Onlookers said she was fully out the water and motionless for 10 minutes after a show. Some heartless spectators even tried to take selfies with her. The behavior came a few weeks after Morgan was found repeatedly banging her head into a metal grate in her cage. The park claimed that "voluntary stranding is a natural behavior in wild orcas." The footage of the beached whale sparked a #freemorgan hashtag and movement on social media.
An Orca Attacked Trainer Jonathan Smith
In 1987, two orcas grabbed trainer Jonathan Smith, who had less than one week of experience working with the animals. They dragged him across the pool. Though he survived the attack, his kidneys were ruptured, his liver was lacerated, and he had cuts all over his body.