A Whale of a Story

If you read my Thursday blog, sildenafil you will note that my dad was pretty sick coming home from California on Wednesday. Well, discount Thursday morning he went to the ER at the University of Utah. He was in the ER for about 10 hours; I guess it was a busy day.

(My mom heard an announcement on the PA system that said something like: “Incoming Level 1 Trauma. This is not a drill.” Now, remedy if you are the patient, this is not something you want to hear. I mean, you don’t want to be coming to the ER, and hear that your problem is something that is so severe that they actually drill for it.)

So after work, I went up to visit them at the hospital. One of the hospital workers heard they had recently been to Sea World, and he started to tell us the following story:

Apparently, according to him, there was this guy who snuck into Sea World after hours, and stripped to his birthday suit and jumped into the whale tank. He died of hypothermia, and the next day, during a show (in front of hundreds of families with children) one of the whales brought the man’s body to the surface of the pool with its nose.

My mom started to laugh and told this worker that this had to be an urban legend. After all, if some guy died at Sea World and the whale brought up his body during a show, don’t you think this would have made the news?

So today I decided to check out the story.

It turns out that it is (mostly) true. Here’s what really happened.

A 27-year-old Miami resident named Daniel was seen before park closing loitering around a whale holding tank. He apparently hid somewhere in the park when the park closed, and changed into his bathing suit and jumped into one of the whale pools. (The whale pools water temperature is kept near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.) He apparently died of hypothermia, and had scrapes on his body indicating that he may have been dragged around the tank like one of the whale’s toys. At 7:30 AM the next morning, park security saw the body of the man (now without his bathing suit), draped over the body of the whale, just behind its dorsal fin. This was discovered before the park opened, and the body was never “brought out of the water during a show in front of hundreds of families with children.”

The whale in question, named Tillikum, has never been a show whale; it is a whale that is used for breeding. However, Tillikum was involved in the death of a whale handler at SeaLand Park in Victoria, B.C. in the early 90s.

Anyway, having set the record straight, I thought you would be interested in this mostly-true “whale of a story.”

Selected References (all links open a new window):
1998 Darwin Awards
St. Petersburg Times article
Humane Society article
The Stranger.com news article

3 responses to “A Whale of a Story”

  1. Agreed. It has all the indicators of an urban lengend. I love debunking urban legends (especially the kind that get sent through mass e-mails), which is why I decided to check this one out!

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