On the Radar: Killer whale's return; the state of bridges; seeing Mercury
Tilikum will return to SeaWorld's "Believe" show on Wednesday.
March 30th, 2011
06:48 AM ET

On the Radar: Killer whale's return; the state of bridges; seeing Mercury

Killer whale's return: The SeaWorld killer whale involved in the death of a trainer more than a year ago returns to the park's "Believe" show Wednesday for the first time since the death, according to media reports.

In February 2010, Tilikum, a 12,000-pound killer whale, pulled senior trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, underwater and killed her as horrified visitors watched at SeaWorld of Orlando's Shamu Stadium.

An autopsy showed Brancheau died of drowning and traumatic injuries to her body, including her spine, ribs and head.

The incident occurred at the conclusion of the park's "Dine With Shamu" event. Those shows resumed earlier this year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined SeaWorld $75,000 for three safety violations, including one classified as willful.

SeaWorld has made safety upgrades to the killer whale stadium since Brancheau's death, CNN affiliate WESH reports.

And a park official says Tilikum is ready to return to shows.

"Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum’s day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment," SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark told WESH. "He has been regularly interacting with his trainers and the other whales for purposes of training, exercise and social and mental stimulation, and has enjoyed access to all of the pools in the Shamu Stadium complex."

The nation's bridges: Nearly three years after the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis 13 people and injured 145, Transportation for America will release a report Wednesday on the state of the nation's bridges.

"Our country is facing a backlog of deficient bridges that need repairs and maintenance to stay open and safe, with needs far greater than what we’re currently spending," the group says in a statement leading up to the report.

The group will look at bridges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and detail how many bridges are in urgent need of repair. Details on six states - California, Michigan, South Dakota, Florida, Illinois and Minnesota - has been previously released. The rest of the states will be cover Wednesday.

Views of Mercury: NASA is expected to release more close-up images of the planet Mercury.

The agency on Tuesday released the first image of the planet supplied by the Messenger spacecraft that was launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, started its historic orbit around Mercury on March 17.

During the next three days, Messenger will acquire 1,185 more images in support of a phase to review spacecraft and instrument performance. The yearlong primary science phase of the mission will begin on April 4, during which it is expected to acquire more than 75,000 images.

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Filed under: Animals • Florida • On the Radar • Travel • Whales
soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. don berry

    oh yea, as for Sea World being "educational" – hogwash. Watch the movie "The Cove". The trainer of Flipper and his thoughts on Sea World etc.....those places exist for nothing more then greed and profit. The "educational" aspect just makes us feel cozy and warm.
    Again, let's take a human and put them i a humanarium for the whales – it would be an "educational" experience for them.
    As for Sea World "saving" whales – take a look around – we are still killing off whales like they were ants.
    It is easy to find reasons to do something that is wrong, often hard to do what is right – we always take the easy profitable way

    March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mattmchugh

    While I have seen (and enjoyed) killer whale shows at SeaWorld, I honestly believe it should not exist. Large, highly intelligent predators should not be kept in small enclosures and used as performing animals. Yes, they're amazing to behold... but it's wrong. Period. With so much human injustice in the world, I can't get too worked up about how we treat a handful of whales - BUT, I can very easily choose to spend my family vacation money somewhere other than SeaWorld.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nurse Lisa

    Hope those in the pool are getting hazard pay; why aren't the trainers (like newby rock wall climbers) winched to a safety harness that would allow humans outside the pool to lift an endangered human captive out of the water?

    March 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Holdupaminute

    Act with your wallet. Don't pay to take your family to places like Sea World. There are plenty of other places to take the family for entertainment that doesn't exploit animals. If you really want your kids to learn something about marine life, take them scuba diving in the ocean instead of sitting with a bunch of lard asses eating fish and chips while dolphins do flips in front of you.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TawnyMarie

    Well, this is kind of like a stab in the back towards the family in my opinion...I don't necessarily think the whale should have been euthanized but, putting it back in to perform? I have a feeling the trainers are doing some serious rock, paper, scissor gestures to see who gets to work with this big guy...

    March 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rock

    sushi anyone?

    March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JH

      exactly whale meat is delicious have you try it it's good try.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. deb

    Yea, let's go ahead and kill the orca for doing what is completely natural.....these majestic animals do not belong in an enclosed body of water. I think's it's a bit untasteful to use this animal for SHOW again.....of course Sea World knows that will draw a crowd and bucks. Shame on their exploitation.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. goodstuff

    Great!!! I think the captive whales do so much as ambassadors for their species.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boston Mike

    I feel they should shut down these animal performance shows; the Sea Worlds, etc. The animals are exploited in my opinion, and these places hype the whole thing as educational. Its all about the money. It encourages the capturing of these animals from the wild.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. adunn10495

    What part of "killer" whale is so hard to figure out? They are wild and dangerous and can't be blamed for an incident like that. I am not sure where they got the name "sperm" whale from, but I wouldn't get in a tank with one of those, either.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pfuetz

    KILLER whale.
    Need we say more?

    March 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Virginia


      March 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jimbo

    The whale needs therapy? What's next, The Oprah show and a book tour?

    March 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. calvin

    Its unfortunate the death of the young lady. They should have just let the whale go. Hopefully no other person will be harmed.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Londonmae

    Killer Whales are wild animals. If someone dies it is not the fault of the whale. We have captured and trained them, we are at fault. I am very happy to see the whale back in the group. How can you punish him for being what he is? He does not understand human behavior any more then we understand killer whales. Go whale go!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Virginia

    Why in the world would they take a chance of the whale possibly hurting or killing another person? Other than $ of course. It's only common sense – return the whale to the wild where it can do what killer whales naturally do.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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