A video filmed at SeaWorld, showing a stranded whale struggling to get back into the water, has gone viral on the Internet, sparking outrage among animal lovers, although experts at SeaWorld have insisted the whale was never in any danger.
The video was taken at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and shows a pilot whale being stranded on a ledge by its pool. The clearly distressed whale is shown being unable to move itself back into the water, and audience members watching the scene unfold live can be heard screaming for staff to help the whale.
The incident was captured on video by a Lakeland man 10 days ago, who was visiting SeaWorld with his family to celebrate his daughter's 11th birthday.
Dozens of people were getting into place in the stands as they waited for the show to start, as the whale became stranded on the ledge. However, staff members at the scene initially dismissed concerns, saying that the whale was simply "playing" and "having fun."
The man who shot the video, Carlo De Leonibus, said, "After about 10 minutes, I realized it was in distress. I felt very concerned, so I went down and told one of the employees who just dismally responded and said 'it's having fun, it's playing.' He didn't even bother to look at the whale, so I went back to the crowd. I began recording. In that time you can hear people upset, people were screaming."
As the crowd continued to scream, De Leonibus described that an announcement was made over the loud speaker assuring the crowd the pilot whale was fine.
However, the whale continued to lie stranded on the side of the pool for an extraordinary amount of time. De Leonibus estimated that it was about 25 to 30 minutes before two trainers finally came out and pushed the whale back into the water.
The video of the incident has sparked outrage online, and the outcry has been so large that SeaWorld has issued a statement: "Pilot whales come out on the ledge all the time and always get back into the deeper water without any problem. The younger animals are still inexperienced and sometimes it takes them a bit longer."
Sea World has sought to reassure angry viewers that the whale was never in any danger.
Here is a video of the incident: