SeaWorld killer whale ‘bitten swimmer’s penis and held it underwater until he drowned’ in horrific attack

A SEAWORLD killer whale bit off a swimmer’s penis and reportedly held it underwater until it drowned in a horrific attack.

Daniel Dukes sneaked past security and made his laundry in Tilikum’s tank in Florida’s SeaWorld park, where he was found dead.


Tilikum was responsible for three human deathsCredit: Alamy
Daniel Dukes was found drowned in Tilikum's tank in 1999


Daniel Dukes was found drowned in Tilikum’s tank in 1999Credit: Fox News
The 27-year-old made his way to the killer whale's tank


The 27-year-old made his way to the killer whale’s tankCredit: Twitter

Tilikum, an orca that died in 2017, was responsible for at least three human deaths during its lifetime.

Dukes’ autopsy found the 27-year-old bum had his scrotum gnawed off by Tilikum after being dragged down and submerged by the powerful beast.

He reportedly waited until after the closure in July 1999, after which he took off his clothes to reveal swimming trunks and climbed into the hulking 11,000-pound whale tank.

Horrified SeaWorld employees and trainers found the mauled man the next morning.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Dukes’ parents, Michael and Patricia Dukes, but they dropped the case a few weeks later.

But the park blamed Dukes for his own death, which they believe was the result of a break-in and his unsupervised swimming with Tilikum.

And the park has always maintained that Dukes died from “accidental drowning” and dismissed the incident as an example of aggression.

At the time, Dukes’ death was the second involving Tilikum.

The park also defends their welfare record with the killer whales, saying they have received “world-class care.”

Ric O’Barry, a marine mammal trainer who devoted his life to restoring captive dolphins to the wild, said Dukes was likely pulled into the water by Tilikum, who killed him out of “boredom.”

He said the marine theme park industry was “poorly regulated” and said SeaWorld had purchased Tilikum for breeding purposes, according to Orlando Weekly.

He went into the water; I think the whale probably pulled it down and kept it underwater. I don’t think they know how many times we breathe.

Ric O’Barry – marine mammal trainer

The veteran naval trainer said the nature of the animal’s captivity made SeaWorld’s orcas much more dangerous than they would be if they lived in the wild.

“The thing about killer whales — they’re probably the only animal in the world that when they’re born, they’ll stay with their mothers for the rest of their lives,” he said.

“The first thing SeaWorld does is separate them from their families, which naturally creates frustration.

“Then they put them in these concrete boxes.”


O’Barry thinks Dukes was “fascinated” by Tilikum and broke in to swim with him.

“He went into the water; I think the whale probably pulled him down and kept him underwater. I don’t think they know how many times we’re breathing.”

He said that’s the problem with whales that have nothing better to do.

“They’re bored,” he explained. “We literally bored them to death. It’s like living in the bathroom all your life.”

Unfortunately for Dukes’ parents, the police ended their investigation within three weeks and said their son had died due to poor judgment.

The Orange Country Sheriff’s Office (OSCO) and the media at the time blamed Dukes, portraying them as a “marijuana-smoking bum from South Carolina with a string of minor arrests.”

Written testimony to the OSCO by SeaWorld employees who observed Dukes the day before his death hinted at his “clothing and lack of personal hygiene.”

Visitors said Dukes “mumbled to himself… [and] looked dirty and has a foul odor,” according to the Dolphin Project.

At one point, Dukes was seen “wandering around the front gate square and staring suspiciously at young girls”.

In 1991, Tilikum was involved in another drowning death of a trainer in a park in Canada.

Marine biology student Keltie Byrne was working part-time at Sealand of the Pacific in Canada when she was ripped apart in front of shocked onlookers.

She had accidentally slipped into the pool and witnesses said Tilikum grabbed her while two other orcas prevented park staff from reaching Keltie.

Several hours passed before Keltie’s body could be recovered.

Shortly after the incident, the whale was sold to SeaWorld.

In 2010, Dawn Brancheau was dragged into the water by the killer whale during a post-show routine.

The woman was leaning over the edge of the tank to rub Tilikum when his behavior suddenly changed and he pulled her into the water by her ponytail.

In harrowing scenes, Dawn was shaken and tossed about as terrified guests were frantically led outside by the staff.

According to reports, the 40-year-old was scalped and her arm was bitten off during the attack.


Dawn’s shocking death made headlines around the world, raising the question of how ethical it is to keep whales in captivity – with much speculation centering on Tilikum’s treatment and life.

Many pundits and former trainers believe Tilikum has become a serial killer purely as a result of his traumatic time in captivity, with the landmark 2013 documentary Blackfish shedding light on long-term concerns.

Tilikum died in 2017 after serious health problems, including a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection.

His death came just a year after SeaWorld announced they were shutting down their breeding program after years of campaigners railing against them.

A SeaWorld spokesperson previously said: “Trainers have not been in the water to train or perform with orcas at SeaWorld since 2010.

“There have been no incidents as described in this article since these changes were made more than a decade ago.

“Our hundreds of veterinarians and healthcare professionals provide world-class medical care.

“None of the orcas in our care live a solitary life and they participate in positive reinforcement sessions on a daily basis, engaging in a range of different activities to ensure they receive adequate physical and mental exercise.

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“In addition, the study of killer whales entrusted to our care by our scientists and outside organizations has directly informed the world’s knowledge and ability to protect whales in the wild.”

The Sun has contacted SeaWorld for further comment.

Keltie Byrne was the first person killed by Tilikum in 1991


Keltie Byrne was the first person killed by Tilikum in 1991
Dawn Brancheau (right) was killed by the whale in 2010


Dawn Brancheau (right) was killed by the whale in 2010

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