By Aimee O’Conner
Twenty-year-old Keltie Byrne was tidying up the pool area after the 1:30 p.m. show at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, B.C., when her rubber workboots skidded on the wet pool deck, sending her into the pool. As a dozen spectators watched, she tried to climb out. But the marine park’s orcas dragged her underwater. Despite being a competitive swimmer, Byrne had no chance against the persistent orcas Haida, Nootka and Tilikum. To the whales, unaccustomed to having trainers in the pool, Byrne was the most interactive toy they had ever played with. She resurfaced and cried for help twice. Ten minutes later, she surfaced again, but was still. She had drowned.
Aimee O’Conner is the head of research for the Review’s 2015 masthead.