After Alexis Martinez was killed by Keto, both SeaWorld/Loro Parque and the Canary Islands OSHA equivalent launched investigations into the incident. These reports are the most detailed and revealing accounts of exactly what happened between Keto and Alexis Martinez (and you can read my reporting and analysis of what they mean in my story about Alexis’ death).
Here is the SeaWorld/Loro Parque corporate incident report:
Continuing to archive documents and reports related to the tragic death of trainer Alexis Martinez at Loro Parque in December, 2009, this upload includes (in Spanish): Preliminary Pathology; Police Interviews; Hospital Summaries; Autopsy Report; Excerpts From Alexis’ Diary Of Work At Loro Parque; Timeline Summary of Loro Parque video of incident; Labor Dept. Investigation.
I’ve got a post over at The Dodo, featuring the newly released 8-minute video SeaWorld made at the end of 1991, showing Sealand and Tilikum’s circumstances there. The video was submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service in support of SeaWorld’s application for an emergency permit to transport Tilikum to SeaWorld Florida. Boy, do I wish we had had this video when we were putting Blackfish together.
This video, along with lots of other documents related to Tilikum’s purchase and transfer to SeaWorld, was prised loose from NMFS archives by dolphin advocate Russ Rector. I’ve looked at some of the interesting aspects of the documents here and here. But I haven’t begun to dig through every page of the FOIA dump Russ scored. So next week, with Russ’ permission, I’ll post the whole cache on Scribd so anyone can review them.
It is often said that it is hard to hide an orca. But (perhaps not surprisingly) the Russians seem to be doing a pretty good job. There’s lots of circumstantial evidence that that the big new Moscow Dolphinarium and Aquarium at the All-Russian Exhibition Center, currently being built, plans to put two orcas on display. In an interview, God Nisanov Year Nisanova, a billionaire and one of the financial backers, says that 17 dolphins have been purchased in Japan, that they will be displayed in multiple pools (a number of which will be used in therapy programs), and that the project has also caught beluga and killer whales for display (even if photos of the captured whales made him sad). And this air transport report indicates that two orcas (a 5-meter, 2700 kg female, believed to be the orca dubbed Narnia; and a 1700 kg male) were flown to Moscow in late November or early December (a 10-hour journey in crates).
Yet no one seems to know for sure where the two orcas are right now, creating a minor mystery. The location that appears to be the most likely temporary home for them (and presumably any other whales or dolphins the Moscow Dolphinarium flies in) is the two large tanks pictured above. The tanks have since been covered by an inflatable bubble. And according to this Russian blog, the facility, which measures about 37 x 68 meters, was put together last October, and was said to be a temporary shelter, and acclimatization stop, for animals being brought in for the dolphinarium. Here are some pictures the Russian blogger posted (and there are more here, plus a video):
As far as I can tell, no one has managed to get inside and confirm there are two orcas swimming around in these tanks. But if there are it is a crude and no doubt extremely discombobulating introduction to their life as show animals in captivity. Not that there is any nice way to make that transition.
The chatter about whether someone has filed for a permit to return Tilikum to Icelandic waters continues. I don’t for a minute believe that SeaWorld is in any way involved. And if any sort of permit request was in fact filed (I’m trying to confirm that) then I strongly suspect that someone is spoofing the Ministry Of Fisheries, or it has nothing to do with Tilikum.
More interesting to me is this report about all the rumors (sent to me by Elizabeth Batt). The details of Tilikum’s experience in captivity in Iceland during the many months before he was shipped to SeaLand of the Pacific have always been sparse. So this is worth noting, and adding to our understanding of this early chapter of Tilikum’s story:
Tilikum was captured by the Icelandic coast in 1983 and kept at the Aquarium in Hafnarfjörður to begin with.
There, Sigfús Halldórsson began the animal’s training. Sigfús is now a computer scientist and lives in England, but remembers Tilikum very well.
Tilikum was being prepped for transport to Canada when Sigfús started training him and was the smallest one of three killer whales kept at the aquarium.
Sigfús fed Tilikum on herring and had failed a few attempts to lure the animal into another pool. Eventually, it was decided upon to move Tilikum with an overhead crane.
“I foolishly jumped into the pool to remove the rail between the two pools and he must have been mad about being separated from the other two killer whales because he caught me from behind and pulled me underwater. He tore a big piece from the back of my wetsuit but I managed somehow to get out of the pool,” Sigfús told Vísir.is
He added that apart from that incident, Tilikum was normally sweet-tempered. “He was my friend, I often put my arm into his mouth to scratch his tongue; he liked that. He was normally very sweet except for that one time he got angry.”
Those were the cowboy days. My guess is that, in retrospect, Sigfus must think he is pretty lucky guy to have emerged from the “one time he got angry” fully intact.