Could we see an end to performing whales?

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A landmark trial started last week which may mark the end of whale shows in captivity.

The trial has been brought by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against SeaWorld after one of their trainers was killed by Tilikum, a 6 ton Killer whale after being dragged under the water.

It is thought that if the trial is successful, not only will SeaWorld be fined $75,000 but that it also might put an end to any show where whales, dolphins and humans come together in the water.

The OSHA have brought three citations and accused SeaWorld of committing a "willful" safety violation — its most severe classification — for not adequately protecting trainers from the danger of being struck or drowned by Killer whales.

They recommend that trainers be prohibited from working with the whales — either in the water or from the edges of pools — unless they are protected by a physical barrier. This is such an extreme measure that animal rights activists are hoping it will mean that trainers will effectively be prevented from swimming with whales.

SeaWorld has banned trainers form entering the water with the whales since Dawn Brancheau’s death in 2010 but is now trialling emergency life jackets which contain oxygen in case of the trainer being dragged underwater, and false floors in the pools.

If the company are found guilty but continue with whale shows they may be fined up to $7000 a day.

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