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New Photos of Killer Whale involved in Trainer Death at SeaWorld

November 10, 2011

Tilikum slides across the shallow ledge as he begins the brutal death of Dawn Brancheau

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released new photos of Tilikum, the killer whale involved in the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in February, 2010 at SeaWorld of Florida.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Orca Project has acquired 71 photos on file from OSHA’s investigation. Two of these photos were taken by a guest at the underwater viewing area during the moments as Tilikum pulled Mrs. Brancheau into the water.

Upon review and examination by former SeaWorld trainers, it is increasingly clear that Dawn was killed after being “barrel-rolled” by Tilikum after he initially grasped her arm as they drifted along the shallows of the Dine with Shamu pool.

The series of photos shown below (dubbed the “death roll”) depict the final seconds before Dawn was brutally killed after sustaining massive injuries in the attack. Photo #1 is the final frame of Dawn and Tilikum’s interaction as captured by the Connell family of New Hampshire. Photo #2 captures the moments as Dawn and Tilikum slide along the shallow slide-out area above the viewing widows. Photo #3 captures Tilikum rolling as he brings Dawn into the water.

Tilikum and Dawn Brancheau are depicicted in the final moments.

This tragic event was initially reported by SeaWorld and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that the veteran trainer “slipped or fell” into the pool with the 12,000 lb orca. Those reports were quickly refuted as witnesses came forward. SeaWorld then ran with the “ponytail theory” in order to shift the focus and blame to Dawn herself.

During the September “OSHA vs. SeaWorld” hearings, trainer and spotter Jay Topoleski described under oath that Dawn’s hair flowed right into Tilikum’s mouth while performing a “layout mimic”, a move whereas the trainer and whale lay parallel to one another, on their backs, reaching out with one hand touching the whale’s pectoral fin.

No other eye-witness testimony describes this position, nor is it depicted in the Connell video or final photos taken from the underwater viewing area.

The Orca Project has investigated and reported on the facts surrounding the “ponytail theory” which SeaWorld has recently began to pull back from. All of the details containing eye-witness testimony and autopsy report can be found HERE.

SeaWorld and OSHA will be back in the courtroom next week in Sanford, Florida. In August 2010, SeaWorld was cited by OSHA for “willful” violations of trainer safety. You can follow the details of the court hearing by visiting and click on the “SeaWorld vs OSHA” tab. Additional photos which unveil SeaWorld’s unscrupulous practices can be see HERE. And be sure to follow us on FaceBook and Twitter for all the latest news and information.

63 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    July 31, 2021 5:51 am

    I’m reposting my comment because it was posted far below: My heart breaks for all the orcas and all the trainers because they were all mistreated for the sake of the almighty dollar! But one question I can’t find the answer to is if Til I was a “no water work orca” then why we’re trainers approved to be in the water, whether it was on a shelf, in a few inches of water, but AT ALL, when they could easily be grabbed?? Why??

    • Jumbo Theelephant permalink
      August 15, 2022 10:50 am

      Well said…..something doesn’t add up.

  2. Lisa permalink
    July 31, 2021 5:34 am

    Two other points of confusion come from “Blackfish” which was the best documentary I’ve ever seen about any topic: the 911 calls, one person said “one of the whales ate a trainer” making Tili I sound like a bloodthirsty man-eater, and another caller said “the whale that no one is supposed to be in the water with.” It was also stated in the court proceedings that Tili “swallowed it” (her arm) and now I’m reading that it was retrieved? These inconsistencies seem to consistently put blame on Dawn and Tili, not where it belongs, on Sea World!

  3. Nando Patel permalink
    June 15, 2017 10:52 pm

    Even though this moment was tragic. This moment shouldn’t have happened. I am 15 years old and even though seeing these animals are amazing, seeing them in captivity is even worse. Orcas are endangered because of this. The rate of them killing humans are because of this. Orcas in Sea World have killed more humans than they have in the wild. Their dorsal fins are collapsing because they aren’t swimming the way they are supposed to. Orcas live up to 80 years but because of this they only live up to 30 years. They separate the mother from the child and the child only lives up to a couple years. When orcas are dying they are dying at a really young age. It is very difficult to live and look at things when you know that people are trying to help animals but end up hurting them even more. I am still a kid and have to see all these things that are messed up and then have to grow up and maybe help. I hate growing up and looking at the world so disgustingly even though this world is absolutely amazing there are things like this that is completely messed up. Put all the animals back in the wild were they belong they don’t belong in tanks are small rooms.

  4. Jeanne permalink
    June 15, 2016 2:40 pm

    One thing after listening to the police testimonies, especially of her best friend at Sea World who was able to remove Dawn’s remains from the whale’s mouth in the medical pen that lifted him up from the depths of the water to work with him. The best friend’s testimony to the police noted that when she saw Dawn’s body, she saw that her hair was missing from the struggle with the whale. The Coroner also noted on Dawn’s autopsy that her hair and scalp was removed from a large portion of her head. This evidence seems to show that the ponytail theory which Sea World first put forth, before the groundskeeper said it might have been her arm that the whale grabbed to get him into the pool, although he was not sure from his vantage point and the decision was made that it was her arm that got her into the pool with the whale, was true – if not, how did the whale who was basically ramming her once he got her in the pool remove her scalp. To ram the eye witness diner who was a biologist what he did 2 turn arounds to speed up to ram her, first in the chest, and then in the waist. Having the scalp removed must have occurred when he brought her down into the pool and thrashed her as the biologist witnessed also before he left go of her and she tried to swim away and he began the ram attacks on her, which of course injured her so she could no longer swim away any longer, thus drowning. When her best friend got her out of the whale’s mouth, he had taken her by the arm, as the whale would a toy to hold onto it, which this whale had a history of doing with things he played with, unwilling to give them up when requested by his trainers. I thought I would put that out there to see if anyone else has a theory of when her scalp and hair was removed in the struggle, if not at the start when he thrashed her while he still had her hair in his mouth while sinking into the underground pool in front of the diners. The entire video taken would reveal this that is not being aired due to family privacy, and I am sure it was analyzed, yet the biologist witness said when he did have her, he had her by the shoulder, which explains the dislocation of the shoulder in the autopsy report, and eventually removal of her arm, under his strong hold.

  5. Kim permalink
    June 10, 2016 3:01 pm

    We need to save these beautiful animals! They don’t belong caged up come on Sea World you should be ashamed of yourselves especially trying to cover up this horrible incident. Where is your conscience?! Guess all they care about is who is stroking their check and that’s it. So pathetic…

  6. Nikki permalink
    August 23, 2015 10:55 am

    Yes this poor woman left this world in a tragic way and my condolences to her family and friends. However, her death could have been prevented … Bottom line these animals are wild and they are living in unnatural conditions that are causing them emotional, physical and psychological distress. An Orcas emotional part of its brain is far more complex than a humans and everything that us as humans do to them, they know and remember and it does have an effect on them. This is my personal opinion, if you don’t like it then fine but I stand by it. I am sure that sea world does fund research and breeding programmes … However if they did some basic research they’d know themselves that the conditions that Orcas such as Tilikum are kept in and the behaviors they are exhibiting aren’t normal and wouldn’t be seen in the wild. I for one would support a charity that supported breeding programmes for orcas in the wild and for research into these fantastic orcas if it meant places that tear orcas away from their families and keep them in substandard conditions were no longer in existence.

  7. September 4, 2014 12:13 am

    You sound like a smart guy , my name is i !
    Considering all you know about orcas ans sea life watever! Do you not consider this torcher? Is there any other shame then the reason all this is happening ! No matter what anyone says , how much they love whales or not… it is wrong ! We are wrong!
    They need more space , they need more food and they need more social interaction with they own speceis as well as others ! Dont they have super cows , why cant they make super bolphins!

  8. Shamu permalink
    February 16, 2014 8:55 am

    Hey Idiots – Whales are not your toys or entertainment and animals should not be used and forced to dance around to be fed. If you think the reports are wrong. HAVE A LOOK – can’t lie she’s being killed by the ORCA

  9. Shamu permalink
    February 16, 2014 8:53 am

    Hey Idiots – Whales are not your toys are enjoyment and animals should not be used and forced to dance around to be fed. If you think the reports are wrong. HAVE A LOOK – can’t lie she’s being killed by the ORCA

  10. Michelle Carraway Grey permalink
    December 27, 2013 8:13 pm

    Even if the pictures are wrong it really doesn’t change the facts of what happened does it?

  11. Ariel permalink
    December 21, 2013 12:18 pm

    those pics of “Tilikum” “attacking” that girl are complete crap they are not only the wrong orca in both pics because they are both much too small to be him…they are not even the same orca in both pics and then to top it all off I am pretty sure the last pic is of a pregnant female…..great job with your research people….and another thing…as you all spew whatever thoughts you want because it makes you feel good inside think of this… yes working with ANY animal can have dangers and everyone should know that when working with or aiding ANY animal and yes the teach some animals to do shows for public entertainment but they try their best to do so in ways to not harm them or their handlers and they do theses things to help pay for things like helping breeding programs for animals that in the wild have been almost completely wiped out,buying land so they can secure areas for more of those animals to be put into the wild and breed on their own,pay people to do research to help prolong the life span of the animals,and no not every animal should be in the wild…there are tones of animals as a matter of fact if any of you have ever gone to Sea World you would know a great deal of their animals are rescues and they take them and make it so they can actually live a happy life rather the be damaged and be eaten or just die a painful death…..they make them habitats to keep them happy and they get fed all they want…..yes there are places out there that need to be shut down because of what they do and how they treat their animals honestly the only issue I have with Sea World is that they do not have mini air tanks with them when their are doing anything in the water……this whole issue could have been avoided if she had on end of story….you can tell by looking at everything with the 2 of them he loved her very much….and he is very sweet he just got playful and messed up….hes also one of the oldest orca ever…if he went into the wild now…he would be dead by morning…end of story…..people just need to get off it….there are people trying to do some good with animals in captivity weather it be trying to help them by letting them safely breed or giving them a safe place to live because they can not handle living out in the wild for whatever reason……if you want every single animal to be out in the wild then go out there and personally stop everything that causes the situations in which people with actual feeling look and go”oh look all of these animals are almost dead maybe we should help” or “oh some one horribly mangled this poor animal we should help it so it can live”…..when you personally can make it so those things no longer happen then you can go and gripe about all of this….until then….try doing something that actually helps the real problems like by either going after the true places the are nasty run down and not trying to help in any way,do things to help make the places that are trying but have flaws better so that the animals and people are happy, safe, and healthy,or like i said find a way to fix the world ( clean the planet,stop the people that over hunt,find a way injured animals can still live with their own in the wild so on and so forth) but I don’t see the last one happening…its really ok if you don’t like what I have to say because I don’t like looking at a web side and the first thing I see is complete and total crap…those pics you have are fakes and 100% lies and you know it and personally it upsets me I honestly can not believe that there are people that can not tell those are two different orca I hope other people call you out on those pics in the future if you do not bother removing them because I find them disrespectful to Tilikum that you would just make up random pics to try and prove your stupid point

    • Nemya permalink
      December 21, 2013 2:17 pm

      The reality is… it’s SeaWorld’s word against everyone elses word. Emotionality is not a basis for truth. Unless you’re an eyewitness, that is, you work for SeaWorld or you work with these animal rights organizations then it’s all hearsay. We only get fed what they want us to know. But the footage and the facts that draw differences between orcas in the wild and orcas incaptivity should be enough for a seeker of truth. There are adequate sources outside of this website. But just like everything else, people will believe what they want to believe. And people will act where they want to act. It’s a part of our nature. As long as it appears that the animals and people are happy, and it appears that these corporations are doing all that they can for the protection and well-being of the trainers and the animals, and the spokespeople swear to the public things are going well… then, it must be true. Right? As a customer visiting the park, they will only see what the park wants them to. And if the customer is captivated by the magic that the park displays then they’re only going to see what they want to see. And that’s the response the park intends for they’re visitors to have. That’s big business baby! I’m sure that they had the best of intentions when they decided to tear orca calves away from they’re families and put them on display for the public to experience the majesty of these creatures up close. But even after so many unintentional deaths, of people and trainers, the park brushes off any and all notions that they may have made serious mistakes in their insistance to make it work. Once again, that’s big business baby! It’s greed. It’s this thinking that gives people an okay to ignore the voice that whispers to them “something is not quite right” even if they can’t put their finger on it. It’s also reason to not hold people and businesses, accountable for their actions. You know, it is reported that SeaWorld to this day still blames Dawn for her death… that’s disgusting. But its just hearsay. But is that okay?

      • Rulon permalink
        December 22, 2013 9:37 am

        Corporate greed… You damn 98%ers need to think of a better excuse. Sea World is great. I love their $15 drink cups.

      • Ben permalink
        December 22, 2013 10:01 am

        It was Dawns fault. She shouldn’t have gotten in the water with a beast that has killed people before. It WAS her fault. There is no shortage of thrill seeking star hungry dumb asses who won’t get in the water with a killer whale to have a “magical experience”. The trainers are the abusers. Tilikum was starved and tortured in his training. He was kidnapped from his mother and whale pod in the early 80s. He should have killed every trainer that came near him.

        • December 22, 2013 2:59 pm

          @ Ben,
          We understand your frustration but the trainers are just pawns in the whole scheme of things. They are fed misinformation (and/or no information at times) about the dangers involved. We wish no harm to any of them. There’s been too many unfortunate tragedies already.
          We are also fortunate that former trainers who are now speaking out in “Death at SeaWorld” and “Blackfish” and to the world are still with us today.
          You can listen to former trainer Dr. John Jett (who worked directly with Tilikum) in a recent radio interview here:
          Hopefully after listening, you might change your views.
          We at The Orca Project are extremely grateful that he and others are still here to be a voice for the orcas. Visit their site here:

        • Nemya permalink
          December 22, 2013 3:48 pm

          Unlike the “troll” (if I’m using that term correctly) above you, your comment deserves a response: I don’t disagree with you Ben. Dawn’s judgement was indeed clouded and that ultimately played a role in her violent and untimely death. However, it’s one thing to place blame and another thing to share blame. Dawn and the other trainers that have died were made scapegoats. As long as a person (in this case a corporation) can redirect blame off of themselves, they are able to continue in the same activity and without remorse. And they know this! Sea World, as far as what I’ve witnessed, has not taken any accountability. And I’m sure that if OSHA did not step in, Sea World would still have those trainers in the water. It makes my stomach churn.

        • arthurk permalink
          May 25, 2014 4:34 pm

          I think they should kill all the whales!

        • Stuff permalink
          May 25, 2014 8:50 pm

          Umm ya. Not get in the water or not have a job. The rules changed about not getting in the water after her death.

        • Sophia permalink
          August 13, 2020 5:16 am

          Peoples complete and utter ignorance never seems to amaze me . Hello she didn’t dive in the pool and swim around she was DRAGGED into it , and I’m literally tired of people making excuses and now the victim is being blamed, I’m pretty sure Dawn did not see the mammal she was just hugging and feeding and literally loving ready to drag her to a BRUTAL death. And im sorry but human life TRUMPS : mammal animal pets whatever , any day of the week . I love how it’s excuse after excuse about the orcas and their environment not really caring that a woman was brutalty murdered! No one will truly ever know, what these orcas want or what they think, it’s your assumption that they should be in the ocean ,and yes it is , you don’t talk whale and neither do I so nobody truly knows so what I see is either they all are “acting including the animals”, because from what I heard the orcas are happy when they are making those noises or they are actually what it actually appears happy. Not trying to be a jerk but there are actual children who are ripped from their homes or parents died so they go to another environment and who knows maybe it’s great and maybe it’s not but it’s life ( again actual human beings ), and before you all go up in arms over that remark I saw blackfish and yes I was horrified at the scene when the mother orca was crying , it was heart wrenching I’m not denying that it broke my heart and I was crying too )but i am so tired of the fact that Dawn Brancheaus brutally horrific death was practically dismissed and was literally nothing more than a war between Seaworld and PETA . First of all, I agree the orcas should never have been taken to begin with , that absolutely was truly horrible and just painful to watch ; but unfortunately they were taken , so these trainers ( and to my understanding is most of these trainers had no idea and the ones that did literally stayed at SeAworld for the orcas). In anything I have ever read or saw in an interview Dawn was always mentioning or talking of her love for these mammals and educating the guests and whether it was right or wrong she poured her heart into it and you could see that literally until the last moments before one of the most precious things in her life the orcas is the one that ended her life. Also, most of these orcas have spent either all of their life or most of their life in that environment so that’s all they knew and like everything else in life you either adapt or even better that’s all u ever knew so even if it was just magnificent elsewhere you don’t care cuz again that’s all you know ), don’t even get me started on the people who want to throw them back in the ocean ? Your either literally insane or Plain selfish , Do you really think that’s best for the orcas because all they have ever known was these people that adored them took care of them and prob what the orcas considered played with them. So your telling me these orcas with the intelligence level they have aren’t going to miss and be sad and wonder where they are and probably feel abandoned ? So now what was wrong in the beginning would be done again and further damage to these orcas . And why ? Because they should geographically should be there , because why cuz the media or PETA says so ?, that’s all these orcas have ever known the SeAworld environment , again is it really for the orcas or your own feelings on the matter. My point that I am trying to really get across …Regardless of who’s right where they should be. Those trainers really have/or had no say in the matter so from What I’ve seen was nothing but love and devotion from those trainers , and they treated those whales like their own babies. ( watch the behind scenes at believe they literally take urine specimens in it and I think it’s dawn that shows that ) And anything I have ever seen of Dawn ( I’m not going to pretend I knew her I don’t and won’t ) but if your any good at reading people and observing she always had a smile on her face , always hugging smiling ( even the pic with her arm in his mouth) I don’t know if it was just love for life or the love for those mammals or she’s just a happy person but the general consensus people liked her and that speaks volumes so this woman who devoted her love and life to them are you really going to tell me that girl was abusing or being mean or hurting them in any way and didn’t love those whales? Like Dawn, I went to Shamu show as a child and enjoyed every minute of it ( at that age I wanted to work there , ), my mind changed prob a week later , but to me that was happiness going there and creating memories and laughing enjoying life . Clearly Seaworld is wrong with the way they went about it trying to downplay it or even worse trying to blame her and they probably would have maintained some sort of dignity and respect if they owned it and literally called it exactly at what it is a spade a spade and also shown any form of being human. Instead of trying to cover things up acknowledging they messed up and with that, stop doing PR and show any form of compassion whatsoever . But I guess that’s we’re people are enraged with seaworld and I get it especially after reading about some of those prior incidents anyone with a half a brain Knew they were liable for the fact that if the entire world can view it on the internet I’m sure a company like SeAworld have top of the line resources. I think one of the truly biggest mistakes was not being truly prepared knowing the intelligence of these mammals or the fact that’s what they are killer whales and even more importantly seeing how they have turned on their trainers in the past and there is literally video proof. For the life of me I cant understand why after the first attack there wasn’t a full proof plan to protect these trainers. They have the money and the resources and after incident one there should have had a knock down full proof rescue plan with a second plan that if the first one didn’t work this would seal the deal. . And I’m pretty sure in today’s day and age with all the technology and the amazing things they can do there should have been one. I know I’m gonna get a lot of crap for this and to be honest I don’t care the way she died was truly horrific and to hear this story and listen to so much crap about how he lived instead of how could we have let it get to the point of helplessness that led to death . Off the top of my head why didnt they have some stick or collar or bow or whatever that would instantly tranquilize them. If not a shock thing like they do for dogs something anything however they can instantly make the orca go down with a warning and if need be shocked them to the ground , I could think of literally a thousand things they could have had / a special floor/ emergency draining/ floors that came out with something to execute a tranquilizer / nets that spit out with a push of a button / an emergency plan that had every single position executed immediately. And by chance if there was a glitch with that then energency gun s ( or something to that nature so no matter what if it ever got to that helpless point you shot it . And before any of you come at me I think it was her mother ( I think ) I read her saying “that in all this media and orcas and their environments and PETA SeAworld dawn seems nothing more than a footnote in all this . “. She is right . She lost her daughter that day anyone that Is a parent can’t even begin to imagine the pain she is in and probably will be for the rest of her life and always literally knowing that her daughter completely suffered severe brutal pain for the last few minutes of her life. Did anyone read the autopsy report? Her hair and skull ( I think definiteky hair ) had to be removed from another side of the pool , she had broken ribs, internal damage, broken neck , arm was gone Tilikum swallowed it , pretty much tore limb from Limb so As heartless as that sounds whether it was my daughters/ boyfriend/sister/father/friend/coworker literally anyone I cared about I would have lost it. My heart goes out to her and think about all the people that sat their in complete and utter horror and felt literally helpless as they watched her get murdered. That in itself is years and years of therapy. And they thought tapping on the stage or some eye signal or whatever those other signals are even the food , did they actually think that a 12000 lb mammal in a fit of rage would respond to that ? It’s literally insane that a realistic plan wasn’t put into place . There literally is no reason there wasn’t because they had the resources , so I’m sure it was a combination of not wanting to spend the money prob most of the reason and prob worried if something like that ever got out the protests from PETA . It sounds barbaric but given what the end results were if something like that was put into place that girl would probably still be alive today . And the one thing that literally haunts me is what went through her mind when she realized he the orca she loved and the passion love and drive she had for these whales was murdering her when all she did was have such love for them that she literally truly loved and was playing with seconds before he literally brutality mutilated her to death and knowing not only did she suffer in pain but probably also in her heart.

    • December 21, 2013 7:12 pm

      @ Ariel. You are wrong on all points. The Tilikum photos were taken by a visitor at the underwater viewing area as Dawn Brancheau was pulled into the water. You too can obtain the photos from OSHA.

      • September 4, 2014 12:18 am

        Hi, i am i !
        Have u heard about me ?
        Would love to have u fighting for my freedom !
        My input , they dont know how to say NO!

    • Dana Park permalink
      December 22, 2013 9:25 am

      Oh what insightful comments Ariel! You’re brilliant. So a mini air tank would help Dawn breath longer so she would die from traumatic injuries instead of death from BOTH drowning AND traumatic injuries. did you read the autopsy report Ariel??? I read ALL of it. I saw Blackfish. I’ve lived in SD my whole life and it’s always been gossip with friends how inhumane the animal shSea World pays for breeding and more research so the greeder 2%ers can continue to monopolize & profit on the animals. Americans should know better. I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life, and I hate Sea World. I’ve known since I was a kid that the Shamu show was wrong and really sad. You can’t be a respected global marine bio by working for Sea World. this is a fact. Scripps in San Diego is a highly sought after place to do research, however, their pay for marine bio researchers is some of the lowest in the world unless they are interested in your area of research. You are such an idiot Ariel. I have several Ph D Marine Bio friends. Marine Bio is a global profession not a Sea World profession. There is grant money donated ALL over the world to research and support marine life and their environments. Sea World is for profit. There’s a difference you dumbass. People…go to the Birch Aquarium (this is where we go) and the beach next time your in sunny SD. Check out the Sea Lions in beautiful La Jolla Cove. Take your kids to the beautiful Balboa Park Museums and go eat at one of the Mexican restaurants at Spanish old town downtown. Sea World is such a joke.

    • Dana permalink
      December 22, 2013 9:34 am

      Oh what insightful comments Ariel! You’re brilliant. So a mini air tank would help Dawn breath longer so she would die from traumatic injuries instead of death from BOTH drowning AND traumatic injuries as stated in the autopsy report. did YOU read the autopsy report Ariel??? I read ALL of it. I saw Blackfish. I’ve lived in SD my whole life and it’s always been gossip with friends how inhumane the animal show is at Sea World. They pay for breeding and more research so the greedy 2%ers can continue to monopolize & profit on the animals. Americans should know better. I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life, and I hate Sea World. I’ve known since I was a kid that the Shamu show was wrong and really sad. You can’t be a respected global marine bio by working for Sea World. this is a fact. Scripps in San Diego is a highly sought after place to do research, however, their pay for marine bio researchers is some of the lowest in the world unless they are interested in your area of research. You are such an idiot Ariel. I have several Ph D Marine Bio friends. Marine Bio is a global profession not a Sea World profession. There is grant money donated ALL over the world to research and support marine life and their environments. Sea World is for profit. There’s a difference you dumbass. People…go to the Birch Aquarium (this is where we go) and the beach next time your in sunny SD. Check out the Sea Lions in beautiful La Jolla Cove. Take your kids to the beautiful Balboa Park Museums and go eat at one of the Mexican restaurants at Spanish old town downtown. Sea World is such a joke. These trainers are also to blame. They make a conscious choice to ride these regal beasts like a pony in a circus show. Don’t pay to go to their stupid theme park and they won’t be able to keep their gates open. Smarten up America.

    • real talk permalink
      January 4, 2014 3:12 am

      How dare you! This lady is dead, that whale is not some dumb animal. Sea world only cares about making money from stupid people like you. Humans capturing and killing whales are the reason this is happening! How about you get snatched from your family while young and then be held in captivity your whole life while being abused and made to perform like a circus animal for peanuts and see if you don’t want to kill your trainer!

      your welcome

      • real talk permalink
        January 4, 2014 3:13 am

        P.s. Ariel..

        kill yourself

        your welcome

      • real talk permalink
        January 4, 2014 3:56 am

        I am sorry but you should be ashamed for speaking ill of the woman who died a horrible death. Show some respect for this woman, daughter, and sister. Hopefully you don’t die horribly and then have people say oh it was her own fault.

      • Lisa permalink
        July 31, 2021 5:18 am

        My heart breaks for all the orcsas, and all the trainers alike who were all mistreated for the sake of the almighty dollar! But what I don’t understand and can’t find the answer to is if Tili I was a “no water-work orca” then WHY were trainers approved to go in the water, no matter that it was on a shelf, or in a few inches of water, but AT ALL when they can still be easily grabbed??? Why??

    • So Cal fish lover permalink
      July 5, 2014 12:13 pm

      You do make some decent points, many ‘trainers’ have been killed by many different species kept in captivity all over the globe. I can appreciate all of the folks who want to help this cause and it is an easier one because it is in our backyard, but there are much worse atrocities happening in third world countries where there are no laws governing the capture and care of the animals.
      I am a Southern Californian, I grew up going to Marineland on the Palos Verdes Peninsula as well as Sea World. Marineland has been closed for sometime now but they had an exhibit that changed the lives of my brother and I, it was called Baja Reef. Marineland provided the snorkeling equipment and you could then swim with the fish in a huge ‘reef’ and those experiences opened our eyes as fisherman, we saw the beauty and tranquility of them and took on a new respect for all sea creatures.
      One example is that we were believers in Catch and Release at a time when it was unpopular, especially in Baja itself. We would go fishing and rather than keep our trophy Marlin or Dorado, we let them go and only kept what we would eat, a practice that we still do while fishing Catalina island.
      Back to the global attrocities, while dining in Baja, just South of Rosarito Beach I looked out the window and saw something so horrible I had to leave. Two men were taking live starfish and placing them on tables to die in the hot sun, hundreds if not thousands!!! These are the ones that people use for decoration and so forth and tourists buy. I was in Home Goods and saw them in a shadow box for display and was very upset because I know how they died.
      In LaPaz they had a swim with Dolphin experience where they put a net enclosing a cove and filled it with dolphins. Well when they were transporting one of them it fell on the 150 degree asphalt, just flopping around on it while they tried to pick it up and after they did it went straight into the water, no vet looked to make sure it was OK.
      I can go on and on but yes it is easy to attack Sea World as it is here in our backyard, but please start searching the internet for how animals are treated all over the globe, at least here in the US we have laws that do not allow the practices carried out in other corners of the globe, no it does not necessarily make it right, but lets branch out to help the Camels in Saudi Arabia or the Elephants in Indonesia and so on and so on and so on.
      Sea World may be a bad guy in your eyes, but for this man it changed my life and makes me happy that at the very least laws and strict guidelines are in place, not the perfect answer but a much better one than elsewhere.

    • Aisling Kelledia permalink
      March 6, 2015 12:19 am

      @Ariel- Sorry, but the very idea that having a “mini air tank” (known to real divers as spare air), would have saved Dawn or ANY of Tillikums other victims, is the saddest juvenile notion. Give it a rest child and stop fantasizing about the good work and glamorous life you think SeaWorld offers. IT’S NOTHING BUT CAPTIVE, BRUTAL ENTERTAINMENT BY ENTRAPPED VICTIMS. SeaWorld is an arena of death waiting to be closed for good.

    • Nikki permalink
      August 23, 2015 12:38 pm

      im afraid I have to strongly disagree with your comment. Firstly a small air tank would sadly not have saved Dawn from this tragic fete (she didn’t just drown) … She sustained countless injuries that a small air tank just wouldn’t have cured.
      Secondly, the validity of the photos above is completely irrelevant, the fact remains that 3 people have died whilst in Tilikum’s company and all three deaths could’ve been prevented by doing just one simple thing … Leaving these animals in their home with their families in the wild.

    • Tracey Henry permalink
      July 24, 2016 6:38 pm

      Ariel, lmao…your lack of knowledge is completely astounding! These photos came directly from the OSHA case. Tilikum is FAR, FAR from the oldest living orca…and the rest of your comments are so far off the mark that I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Please, honey, read something before you make comments in public.

    • lily permalink
      May 6, 2017 2:05 am

      Look at the pictures again. Look at the collapsed dorsal. That’s Tili.

  12. Erick permalink
    December 18, 2013 4:20 am

    I’m a bit confused here. First the site speaks about 71 pictures, of which none is shown that is of relevance to the theory that Tilikum has Dawns arm in his mouth. If I remember correctly, I also talked about this with others, the video implied that Tilikum grabbed Dawns shoulder. Second, I don’t remember that these 71 pictures where showed or mentioned during the official hearings. If they are of relevance, I would like to see them. If not, don’t even mention them.

    Please remember that everything you write and imply here is of some importance to a certain level. Since people are still following this, all over the world. This isn’t just about Dawn or Tilikum. The stakes are much higher then this, with the greatest respect for Dawn, her family, colleagues and Tilikum. It’s about a billion dollar business on one side, against the freedom for animals on the other side. Those billion dollar businesses won’t go down without a fight!

    So by all means, show the pictures and videos of this horrible attack. I don’t wanna sound rude, but hopefully images like that will keep people away from parks like SeaWorld and force them to seek for a solution which their captives will benefit from. They know the public is watching them!

  13. Julie Martin permalink
    September 14, 2013 12:38 am

    71 images were mentioned. Where can we access these?

  14. Gerard permalink
    August 18, 2013 6:01 am

    Reading all this I find it strange not all image where released. Sea-world claims to play an important role, education the public about these whales. This tragedy is certainly a part of the education. The whales aren’t pets, but wild animals. Besides that, how much footage is shown on a daily basis about all kinds of accidents, criminal activity, terrorist acts and other horrifying events. But this is off limits?

    • Tina permalink
      December 11, 2013 12:18 pm

      I’m glad the video footage is off limits to the public – people’s morbid curiousity should not be satisfied.

      • Erick permalink
        December 18, 2013 4:24 am

        People with a morbid curiosity will for-fill their morbid needs anyway. Like I wrote above, it might help to stop the public going to SeaWorld. I don’t know how much comments you read on the innerwebs. A lot of people still blame Dawn for being careless.

      • Jenna permalink
        December 22, 2013 9:50 am

        Actually I read the Autopsy report and was hoping to see the scalped maimed corpse and gruesome footage. The trainers are stupid enough to perpetuate an abusive corporation. They are abusing the animals by withholding food, forcing them to perform, and Tilikum is pretty f’g smart to get fed up with the BS and knock off a few trainers. The trainers who CHOOSE to get in the water with these animals ARE at fault for their deaths. They play Russian roulette every time they get in the water to abuse these regal creatures. Dawn WAS careless Erick…she worked at Sea World with a beast that already killed people before her.

        • hypocrites. everywhere. permalink
          July 16, 2014 4:49 am

          I completely agree. Just because a corporation is paying you money to do something that is wrong doesn’t make it okay for you to do said wrong thing. They ALL are responsible! Who really cares about the many trainers that have since quit and are confirming what we already know? Glad to know The Orca Project is great buddies with people that have profited monetarily from the Orcas suffering. GREAT. Lost all your credibility in my book.

  15. OrcaLuvr'09 permalink
    January 22, 2013 10:36 pm

    Oh sure Dawn looks happy as Tili bites her arm… um… this doesn’t make sense. Her arm IS NOT in Tili’s mouth in that picture… I don’t know how you came up with that.

  16. November 11, 2011 8:19 pm

    Don’t buy a ticket to a captive dolphin show or swim with captive dolphins! Dolphins should be free and left to live their lives in the wild.

  17. jmventre permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:26 pm

    More information regarding the horrific details are contained in this interview, as well as references to the culture of exploitation, and the consequences of captivity on the oral health of killer whales held in concrete and steel enclosures.

  18. María Cely permalink
    November 10, 2011 3:45 pm

    I don t think Ted here the discussion is about photos unless that is more important than the fact that this Orca and SO WRONG CALLED KILLER WHALE is not where he belongs and that if the trainer was killed is because of Sea Worlds fault. This has to stop and Aquariums that held cetaceans prisoners should be closed, BOTTOM LINE. I do not cry her dead and I do not feel sorry for her, if she loved the whales so much she should have known that captivity is wrond and kills but she was part of it and made lots of money out of this poor sentient being.

  19. November 10, 2011 2:53 pm

    71 Images released? Will you be publishing anymore?
    Thank you for having the guts to show the truth.

    • Ted Lund permalink
      November 10, 2011 3:23 pm

      Actually, it makes NO sense. The orientation of Dawn and Tilli at the time the attack occurred was facing to the right as you are looking out of the underwater viewing. In the two underwater views, he is facing back across the pool to the left more than 20 feet from where dawn was at the time. If you were to believe what you are trying to imply with these photos, he was violently grabbing her, taking her down in a barrel role and shifting his entire 12,000-lb body with out any bubbles, turbulence or anything. In fact, if you look where his head is facing in the two photos (and know anything about G pool) that’s actually right at the base of the scale, at least 20 or 30 feet to the left of where Dawn was laying with him in the slideout, to the extreme right of the window (at least that’s what the video purported as showing Dawn and Tili in their last moments shows.)

      • November 10, 2011 3:51 pm

        From the underwater perspective, she is facing to the right. He’s not near the scale, and I am familiar with G pool, and the scale, and the underwater viewing area. No one suggested a violent or turbulent grab. In all likelihood it was more of a relatively smooth roll over just to get her into the water.

      • January 18, 2013 8:40 pm

        Correct Ted, lets not leave out the fact that, according to the picture with Dawn and Tilly, Dawn’s “forearm was in his mouth”…i dont think anyone would be smiling if their arm was in a 6 ton animal’s mouth. once again, people can post whatever they want but unless they were there or know someone who was, they will never get an accurate account of what happened

  20. TUESDAY HEARST permalink
    November 10, 2011 12:50 pm


  21. Candace Calloway Whiting permalink
    November 10, 2011 11:31 am

    It just shows how deliberate he was, he didn’t just playfully tug her into the water, it looks like he would have flipped her over, or maybe broke her arm right away?

  22. November 10, 2011 11:24 am

    Do not understand what has to be proven. Orka’s are wild animals and no pets. If you play with them you can be hurt or killed. Only one good solution to avoid such accidents: leave them in the oceans where they belong. When kept for 40 years in a small box: how would most people react against their ‘agressors?

    • K Sprout permalink
      October 27, 2013 11:23 pm

      Thank you, you have hit the nail on the head. These are wild animals that have been deprived of their natural environment. They are acting upon instrinct and shoudl all be released.

  23. November 10, 2011 10:57 am

    Amazing series of photos. Thank you TOP. Actually the photo series makes sense. Please note the acute angle of Tilikum’s body (less than 90 degrees) in regard to the ledge wall. That orientation is maintained when you shift from the above water perspective, to the below water perspective. Thanks for sheading light on this.

    • Ted Lund permalink
      November 10, 2011 3:36 pm

      And actually, you make the assertion that photo one is a video capture from the end of the relationship session depicting Tilli with Dawn’s forearm in his mouth. Who made that determination? I kind of have to question the authenticity of the information contained in the photos.

  24. Ted Lund permalink
    November 10, 2011 9:32 am

    The series of photos dont make any sense. dawn and the whale are facing one way (toward the upper right corner of uw viewing) then the underwater photos show the whale 20 feet to the left of that position, facing the opposite direction.


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