Open letter OSHA vs. SeaWorld:Oppose their request

By Edward Johnson
Follow the link below now to tell Hilda Solis the SeaWorld hearing must remain open to the public
In my last blog I suggested that you should write to Sec. of Labor Solis and support OSHA(Occupational Safety and Health Agency)  since SeaWorld is attempting to have a closed hearing on the issues surrounding the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. Lets face it, we all like to talk about what should be done, action, that is a different story. So below you will find my comment, granted if you look real close you will find the inclusion of parts submitted by  the Orca Project.

My comments went much further and attempted to include the welfare, health(mental and physical) as well as social and cultural concerns regarding Tilikum the Killer Whale. It’s urgent that you get on board to insure that Judge Ken S. Welsch does not sign a Protective Order. This can not be one of the old good ol’ boy ploys in-which big money talks, inhumane animal practices continue and a person gives their life without a open judicial revue.. Please help the family of Dawn, and end the enslavement of all marine mammals.

Most Honorable Secretary of Labor

Hilda L. Solis

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20210

(202) 693-6000

Re: OSHA vs. SeaWorld Order

Secretary Solis,

On Feb. 24, 2010 a tragic event occurred at the Miami, Florida SeaWorld,  killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed. Recently the mega corporation SeaWorld has requested that its marine mammal trainer’s return to the water as the show must go on.  Thankfully your agency, OSHA(Occupational Safety and Health Agency), has taken action relative to this unfortunate but predictable event. I provide the following documentation from the particular case file presented to SeaWorld, “SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals.

On Feb. 24, a six-ton killer whale grabbed a trainer and pulled her under the water during what SeaWorld describes as a “relationship session,” which was also observed by park guests. Video footage shows the killer whale repeatedly striking and thrashing the trainer, and pulling her under water even as she attempted to escape. The autopsy report describes the cause of death as drowning and traumatic injuries.

OSHA’s investigation revealed that this animal was one of three killer whales involved in the death of an animal trainer in 1991 at Sea Land of the Pacific in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. SeaWorld had forbidden trainers from swimming with this whale because of his dangerous past behavior, but allowed trainers to interact with the whale, including touching him, while the trainers were lying on the pool edge in shallow water.

In addition to the history with this whale, the OSHA investigation revealed that SeaWorld trainers had an extensive history of unexpected and potentially dangerous incidents involving killer whales at its various facilities, including its location in Orlando. Despite this record, management failed to make meaningful changes to improve the safety of the work environment for its employees.

All employers are obligated to assess potential risks to the safety and health of their employees and take actions to mitigate those risks. In facilities that house wild animals, employers need to assess the animals under their care and to minimize human-animal interaction if there is no safe way to reliably predict animal behavior under all conditions.” By various OSHA staff.

What is missing in the above rationale is the health and welfare of the Killer Whale. The stress that developed in this enslaved highly evolved intelligent creatures, by all accounts, caused a premeditated act and violent death for the trainer. The truth needs to be determined and it must include addressing what provoked this action. It is totally essential that all relevant facts be exposed in a court of law which will reveal marine mammal amusement parks for what they are, certain premature death to the captive whales as well as unsuspecting trainers or other associated park personnel. An open public examination of the contributing factors such as but not limited to: confinement in a unrealistically small pool, poor dental health which included broken teeth & exposed nerves without root canals and fillings, extremely extended periods of time remaining uncharacteristically motionless, inadequate water depths necessary if dorsal fins are to remain vertical, excessive exposure to suns damaging rays,  continuous and excessive  use of antibiotics, nonnative diets which arrived at the facilities frozen rather than live thus eliminating chasing & catching.

Judge Ken S. Welsch will be asked to sign a Protective Order for the hearing scheduled to begin 25 April 2011 in Orlando, FL effectively sealing all content and expert witness testimony, as well as descriptions of the suboptimal conditions associated with orca captivity. If successful, witnesses will be forever barred from discussing or writing anything about the case publicly, preventing any and all content from being used for future litigation or investigation, akin to the crippling of trainer John Sillick in 1987.

The family of the victim should be vindicated and the public has the right to know, as details of this case have a direct effect on the future of workplace safety at marine mammal parks.

I am most hopeful that you and your agency will counter any and all attempts which would allow SeaWorld to secure the requested Protective Order.


Edward W. Johnson

Cannon Beach, OR

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