For the first time in about a year, the Sea World parks are going to be putting its trainers back into the water with the killer whales. On February 25th, 2010, a trainer was drowned and killed by Sea World's largest orca, which is 6 tons. The trainer, Dawn Brancheau, was of Sea World Orlando, and the orca that took her life was named Tilikum. According to the Orlando Sentinel, trainers will soon begin being in the water for a limited time with the whales at all three of the Sea World parks in the United States, Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego. The park has not been in the situation ever before, where the trainers are completely taken out of the water from the whales and some of the park's most popular shows can no longer happen due to this. But after last year's incident, the parks are going through everything possible to make sure the same incident does not happen again. Parks are installing numerous safety upgrades in its whale tanks to help ensure incidents do not turn out to be fatal.
The upgrades that the parks are undergoing are things such as fast rising floors in the large tanks as well as underwater vehicles that can distract the whales in case they decide to attack a trainer. The custom designed rising floors will be able to rise in less than a minute's time, if necessary, to lift the whale out of the water as well as be low enough for the trainer to stand up. The cabled lift stations in Sea World's medical pools can rise in about 60 seconds exactly, where as these new Oceaneering International Inc. manufactured floors will rise in a much quicker time span upon activation after an incident had occurred. The amount of money that Sea World expects to spend on these floors will be massive, but it will be necessary to help ensure a safe environment for the trainers and eventually get back to the public shows that involve the trainers in the pool with the killer whales, which is a reason why a lot of Sea World lovers go to Sea World. Oceaneering is also making a remote control under water vehicle for another safety upgrade. These vehicles will be designed to actually distract a killer whale upon an emergency situation. These vehicles will be able to float to the surface, swim in specific patterns, flash with strobe lights, vibrate and emit sounds, and more. Whale trainers will also eventually be equipped with emergency air supplies that will provide them with two to five minutes of air assuming they were trapped underwater. These air supplies were originally designed for use in the U.S. Military.
The whales themselves will be put through desensitization. Tilikum has already been put through a lot of this as he is responsible for three of the deaths at Sea World in the past twenty years. For now, the training will only be taking place in the park's medical pools and Sea World is not certain when they will progress the training past this point. Time will tell where it goes from here and how long it will be until the parks return to the normal shows it had before last year's incident.