Miami Seaquarium Fined $7,000 for Letting Trainers Work With Lolita Unprotected

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Animal activists are claiming a victory today after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit Miami Seaquarium with a pretty hefty fine for letting trainers work with Lolita the orca without proper safety precautions.

In 2010, SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau died while she was swimming in a pool with an orca. Since the incident, OSHA has required there be physical barriers or a safe amount of distance between orcas and trainers during performances.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund caught trainers breaking those requirements on video, and OSHA has responded by fining the Seaquarium a "serious" $7,000.

"We celebrate OSHA's swift enforcement against this dangerous facility," Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. "The Miami Seaquarium is risking trainers' lives to exploit Lolita, a wild-captured orca, for huge revenue. The corporation continues to disregard worker safety and animal welfare laws as long as it brings in big profits."

The Seaquarium was also cited but not fined for other violations. OSHA found that some employees who were scuba diving were not properly trained in CPR and first aid and did not have a proper reserve cylinder of oxygen on them, nor were the times of dives properly logged.

The complaint and fine is just the latest battle in a war between the Seaquarium and animal activists.

Lolita has been in captivity since 1970 and lives in the smallest orca tank in North America. In 2005, her original family, the Puget Sound L-pod, was protected under the Endangered Species Act. Activists hope to have the protective status applied to Lolita as well, with the ultimate goal of returning her to a seaside sanctuary in Puget Sound, Washington.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.