SeaWorld Pilot Whale Left Stranded, Video Causes Outcry

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A SeaWorld spectator caught video footage of a pilot whale stranded out of the water at the edge of its pool, angering animal lovers and adding to SeaWorld's recent publicity troubles, according to the New York Daily News.

Videographer of Beached SeaWorld Whale Video Speaks Out

Ashley and Carlo De Leonibus brought their daughter, Catiana, to SeaWorld for her eleventh birthday. Trainers paused the show when a thunderstorm started, and they retreated from the storm while the audience remained in their covered seats and the animals stayed in their pool.

But a young pilot whale, a type of dolphin, became stranded at the edge of the pool, out of the water. The animal floundered and struggled, but no trainers came out to help it, to the increasing anger of the audience.

Carlo De Leonibus filmed the pilot whale as it struggled, with the noise of the angry crowd yelling and stomping their feet while the pilot whale struggled alone. Other pilot whales swam to the edge of the pool in apparent attempts to help.

"The crowd was really upset and panicking," De Leonibus said. "My daughter was screaming."

De Leonibus informed a SeaWorld employee of the situation. "He said, 'Oh, it's just playing. They do this all the time. It is normal behavior,'" De Leonibus told the Daily News. It was 20 minutes before trainers came to the pilot whale's aid. By that point, the crowd was very angry and many children were upset by the animal's obvious distress.

After De Leonibus uploaded his video footage of the stranded pilot whale, causing public outcry, SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told WTSP-TV, "The animals seem to enjoy it and it has no effect on their health or well-being. The younger and more inexperienced animals - like the one on the video - sometimes take a little longer, because they haven't completely mastered the technique yet. The whale was never in danger."

This latest incident adds to SeaWorld's recent PR difficulties in the wake of the documentary "Blackfish," which spotlights and is highly critical of the theme park's treatment of its killer whales.


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I just saw the documentary "Blackfish" about orcas kept in captivity. It is heartbreaking to see these beautiful animals penned in tiny pools for most of their lives. The pools they perform in for an hour a day are 4 times larger than the pools they live in for the other 23 hours a day. Orcas are not sociable with other groups of orcas. In Sea World, and other captive orca facilities, they put single orcas from different pods or groups in together. This is very stressful to them and there are a lot of fights. The smaller and weaker animals cannot get away from their agressors in holding pens just large enough for them to turn around. They get raked by teeth so bad they get bloody wounds and scars. Then Sea World trains them by witholding food when they dont do a trick right and they get irritable and fight with each other again. Sea World, et al, are not doing this to improve the way people feel about orcas. For them it's all about the money. I am never going to a Sea World type show again because I do not enjoy seeing animals being tortured for my amusement.

November 07 2013 at 6:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband and I visited SeaWorld in Fl. and the Bonnethead sharks at the entrance of an exhibit jumped right out of the water and tried to bite my hubby in the face. The SeaWorld employee was just as surprised as my husband. These animals obviously were not being fed properly. We all know that the economy has created budget cuts and the only things that suffer are the animals. Time to step it up ZOOS. If you are going to have caged animals you have to feed them and take care of them properly.

August 02 2013 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jacci Leslie

I'd be curious to know how many of you that think keeping these animals in captivity have a cat/dog/fish or other "pet" how is that any better? They may have a little more room to roam based on their size, but they aren't free to roam around the city, right? Also, if there were no zoos, aquariums, etc- many people that have a love of animals would not. Seeing them up close helps people feel a bond to them, and want to protect them and the world in which these animals live. Most people can't afford to travel to Africa to see a lion, and China to see a panda, and the Arctic to see a polar bear. People don't seem to care as much about things they don't know about. Seeing a picture of a dolphin in a book is not the same as touching one. If the trainers thought the whale was in trouble they would have helped it sooner. It breathes air, and it was raining so it's skin was staying moist. The photo of the scraped up chin was one of the orcas, not damage to the dolphin from scraping on the concrete.

July 30 2013 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Boycott Sea World, and they will get the message $$$$ that what they are doing to these innocent animals is not acceptable. For whales and dolphins, it is their natural instinct and desire to swim hundreds of miles in their home, the Ocean, where they belong

July 30 2013 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sherry4sue's comment
Jacci Leslie

How do we know it is there "desire" to swim hundreds of miles? Have you asked them? Maybe they just swim that far because they have to to find food, and or escape from being someone else's food.

July 30 2013 at 11:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if you boycott seaworld then all the good that they do will be undone. did you know that every single animal that they have there is a RESCUE? more then half of the animals in seaworld were injured in the OCEAN and were rescued so that they could get treatment for their injuries. Yes they keep some animals and train them and they charge people to come see them, but they have to in order to keep their funding coming in so they can continue saving these creatures. Go to facebook, join their group, look at all the good they have done before making it seem like they are keeping these animals for their own selfish means.

August 30 2013 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sea World tells lies all the time about how happy their whales and dolphins are in captivity. These animals do not belong in tiny pools doing circus tricks for humans EVER. Two wrongs will never make a right. It is good that Sea World does some help in rescuing animals in the wild, BUT it will never ever make it ok to keep these animals in captivity where they do not belong. It is obvious that poor dolphin was in distress, even the other animals in the pool tried to help it. Shame on Sea World, all they are interested in is $$$$$$

July 30 2013 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Sea World should be renamed Death World. I would not spend a second there ever again. They must hate the creatures of the sea to do these horrible things to these great creatures. As humans we just keep screwing things up and we need to stop... If anything we need to open up a Human World and put the humans on view. Why now we kill our poor animals so why now humans and lets watch them jump around...

July 30 2013 at 2:31 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Sarah Petty

While the whales will dry out if left out of water, the more alarming concern is their weight. Whales are sea animals for a reason. They were lucky this was a young whale, because 25 minutes and it's own body weight could have crushed its organs.

July 30 2013 at 7:51 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sarah Petty's comment

You are so right. Also how dare an employee ignore a ligitimate complant and concern of a paying guest.

August 02 2013 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seems to me that if you're going to hold wild animals in captivity that this would not even be a possibility.Things like this that would put them in danger should be eliminated. They have "experts" employed there?????? Sad!

July 30 2013 at 3:04 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Sweet with so many people not going there will be no line on the Manta or the Kraken....ill be there!...and for all the people saying the dolphins skin needs to stay was raining!

July 30 2013 at 12:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

Time to start a catch & release program at Sea World!!

July 30 2013 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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