The Dawn Brancheau tape (lost death footage of orca attack; 2010)


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Dawn Brancheau's death footage
Dawn Brancheau in 2009.
Dawn Brancheau in 2009.
Status Partially Found

Dawn Brancheau was a Sea World trainer who worked with various whales at Sea World Orlando. In 2010, she was tragically killed by Tilikum, the largest Killer Whale held in captivity. Tilikum had killed 2 other people in the past. The incident was documented in the 2013 film Blackfish.

Brancheau's death was recorded on video, but hasn't resurfaced to this day.

Background

The incident stirred up some controversy concerning the safety of trainers and killer whales. There have never been any reported cases of a wild orca attacking humans. However, when held in captivity, the animals are known to grow bored and frustrated and have frequently lashed out at trainers. Sea World alone has been the subject of over 70 incidents over the past 30 years.

While Brancheau was the first death that has ever resulted in these whale attacks, other incidents have involved thrashing trainers about; dragging trainers to the bottom of incredibly deep pools just to pull them back up and repeat, and attempted devoured.

Brancheau

Brancheau's incident was especially notable not just because she died, but because several parts of her body were held by Tillikum as he stubbornly refused to let them go.

Brancheau, a well-known perfectionist, taped almost all of her shows so that way she could watch them and improve her performance. The incident was, in fact, caught on tape. Part of it can be seen in Blackfish, but for whatever reason, they were unable to show anything after Tilikum grabbing her arm and getting ready to drag her. This may have been out of respect for her and her family or because Sea World forbade the footage to be shown publicly.

Aftermath

Sea World fought long and hard to make the incident look like an accident instead of an attack. They even went as far as to say that it was because of her ponytail that she was dragged under (despite ponytails having been worn by many other trainers without incident and the fact that she was dragged by her arm, not her hair).

Eyewitness reports, as well as the available footage, proved that Tilikum attacked Brancheau because she had run out of food to reward him for his tricks, and also because he failed to perform one of the tricks to the fullest.

Because of this incident, it is now required by United States law that Sea World's trainers only interact with orca behind a barrier. Many organisations have fought hard to try to make it illegal to keep killer whales in captivity in general.

Footage

The remaining footage has never surfaced, and it is not known who holds the data. Even though Sea World events are commonly filmed by tourists, somehow not even amateur footage has been seen.

There was one video claiming to be of the incident on YouTube, but it was proven fake because the whale in question did not have Tilikum's collapsed dorsal fin and the trainer's suit was an entirely different colour. Until it surfaces, this remains another lost video of a tragic event.

Footage taken just before the attack.

Comments


avatar

Anonymous user #1

10 months ago
Score 3++

He attacked her because he failed to perform a trick to the fullest? Do you mean she denied him food because he didn't perform correctly? You said she ran out of food? I'm confused. He wasn't really "performing", it was a dinner that guests watch trainers interact & play.

Also, to all the people denying her ponytail played a part, she was scalped. I'm gonna say he wouldn't have been able to rip her scalp off had he not been able to grab it.
avatar

BlackBearCJ

8 months ago
Score 2++

The claim Seaworld had was that her pony tail was in the water and floated into Tilikum's mouth which is what confused him. But there's footage from seconds before where they're in the water together and her hair isn't in the water at all (in addition to the claim of Dawn's own footage in Blackfish but I haven't seen the movie and that movie was very manipulative itself, as was SeaWorld).

I'm not sure if you're trying to say it's a lie she was grabbed by the arm because she was also scalped.. but her also tore off her left arm, which was facing Tilikum before the attack, as well. Witness accounts are all over the place as well, some even saying he grabbed her waist.
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Anonymous user #2

9 months ago
Score -5++
Tilikum should be euthanized
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BlackBearCJ

8 months ago
Score 5++
You might be violent and crazy too if someone abducted you and kept you confined quarters for over 30 years.
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Anonymous user #3

8 months ago
Score 3++
Good news, anon!
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Anonymous user #4

8 months ago
Score 3++
Tilikum just died, so...
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Bes

8 months ago
Score 0++
It's quite sad to see that Tilikum died. He lived a bit longer than average, but a little too short, nonetheless.
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Nanis149

8 months ago
Score -1++
RIP Tilikum. We must find this now.
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Anonymous user #5

5 months ago
Score 0++
The part about Brancheau being the first death is not correct. Tilikum had been involved in two other deaths previously, one with a visitor at SeaWorld and one with a trainer at Tilikum's past home, Sealand of the Pacific.
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Anonymous user #6

1 months ago
Score 0++
It's confusing because of the way it was written, but that part was saying that Brancheau's death was the first (and only) death that has specifically resulted from a captive orca lashing out at its trainer at Sea World.
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Anonymous user #7

1 months ago
Score 0++
Im surprised not a single person besides the footage we see here, has be recorded of the attack.I mean i understand the footage they have, isnt shown out of respect for Brancheau, but i still find it hard to believe that not a single other person wasnt recording.
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Anonymous user #8

1 months ago
Score -1++
I'm glad that stupid whale is dead. Human lives are more important than animals.
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Ryanskii

1 months ago
Score 1++

So if a baby dies to a human, its fine

but if its to an animal it isnt?
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Anonymous user #8

1 months ago
Score -1++

To Mynameismeh,

I'm not saying that. I'm tired of animal rights activists thinking animals are more important than humans, that's what they are for crying out loud! They should be more concerned about Dawn's death at the hands of that stupid whale and not to try and justify that whale's murderous and unforgivable actions against Dawn and the (likely traumatic) impact it left on her family. If it came from the wild, don't bring it to captivity!
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