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SeaWorld trainer was pulled underwater by orca in 10-minute terrifying ordeal

Darcy Rafter June 20, 2022
Baby Killer Whale Born At SeaWorld San Diego
Photo by SeaWorld via Getty Images


SeaWorld trainer Ken Peters was horrifically pulled underwater for 10 minutes by killer whale Kasatka, during a show at the marine-life attraction.

WARNING: Content of a disturbing nature ahead

The whale became distressed when her calf called out to her during a show, at the San Diego attraction park. The 5,000lb killer dragged Peters to the bottom of the tank in front of a terrified audience.

Horrific footage of the 2006 incident, shows how the nightmare unfolded…

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Photo by SeaWorld via Getty Images

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SeaWorld trainer was pulled underwater by orca

Kasatka had already tried to bite Ken Peters during a show in 1993 and again in 1999. However, on 30th November 2006, Kasatka grabbed Peters and dragged him underwater twice during their show.

Peters was trying to give Kasatka a kiss at the side of the tank where he was about to dive in before the whale would lift him out on her nose.

Instead, Kasatka grabs Peters by one of his feet and pulls him down into the tank. As he struggles to get away the mammal doesn’t let her trainer go. Kasatka pulled Peters under twice for about 40 seconds each time. Even when he tried to calm the whale down, patting her on the back, she didn’t let go. Other trainers tried to make Kasatka follow their orders signalling her to let go of Peters but she ignored them.

After Peters makes it above water, he calms the whale down and makes his way to the side of the pool. After quickly swimming away he sees the orca following him, and scrambles out of the tank before falling from his injuries; medical aid quickly attended to the scene.

The terrifying clip can be seen here from the documentary Blackfish. Viewers are warned over strong adult language and possible disturbing scenes.

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Did Ken Peters survive the 10-minute terrifying ordeal?

Screenshot from Blackfish Movie Clip – Kasatka and Ken Peters | jaelzion YouTube

In a miraculous turn of events, the trainer survived. Only escaping with a broken foot and puncture wounds from the whale’s teeth. SeaWorld San Diego’s vice president said that no safety improvements were made following the ordeal aside from telling trainers not to swim with Kasatka and two other orcas.

The incident was almost ten minutes long and was captured by SeaWorld cameras. The government released the video as part of public records request following trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death at SeaWorld Orlando in February 2010.

Peters defended the park following the death of Dawn Brancheau. He reportedly said: “I could get killed in a car accident today, but I still get in a car. Even when I was down at the bottom of the pool, I thought she’d let me go.”

Where is Kasatka the orca now?

Kasatka’s former trainer, John Hargrove, left SeaWorld in 2012 and became a key player behind the Netflix documentary Blackfish. Hargrove claimed to The Daily Mail in 2017: “They claim captive orcas help educate people, and for years I bought into it. But Kasatka lived in misery, in barbaric and horrific conditions, and died in agony.’

After suffering with pneumonia from 2008 to 2017, Kasatka was put down at 40 years old on August 15, 2017.

In response to Hargrove’s claims, SeaWorld said at the time: “These allegations are the same distortions and mischaracterisations that have been made and discredited over the years. No one is more dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our animals than the expert veterinarians and animal care staff working with this family of killer whales every day.

“Our animal care programmes and policies are stringently regulated by US federal laws. The US Department of Agriculture has oversight of SeaWorld. Our park is inspected annually, often multiple times a year.

“We pass these inspections, maintaining the highest quality standards. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums said SeaWorld is meeting or exceeding the highest standard of animal care and welfare of any zoological organisation in the world.”

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.