Dolphin Strikes Trainer During Performance at the Miami Seaquariam in Florida

The attack occurred during the aquarium’s Flipper Dolphin Show on Saturday

Photo: Richard Tribou/Getty

A dolphin struck a female trainer during a show at the Miami Seaquarium on Saturday, according to a statement from the Florida facility.

Photographer Shannon Carpenter says he watched the incident at the aquarium's Dolphin Flipper Show with his family and captured the event on camera. His footage was shared on TikTok and later obtained by several media outlets, including WPLG.

In the clip, the dolphin acts aggressively toward the trainer before the woman can get out of the water, where another staff member comes to her aid.

"[It] looked like the dolphin rammed into the trainer," Carpenter told WSVN. "There was a struggle, some kind of collision underwater happened. The lady on the paddleboard, she paddled out of the water pretty quick, and then the lead trainer started swimming back towards the dock, and it looked like she got ran into a couple more times."

"The kids were cheering, thinking this was neat," Carpenter added to WPLG. "You could tell the adults knew something was wrong."

Carpenter said the trainer was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Her condition remains unclear.

Naomi A Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, told Newsweek the incident likely occurred because the dolphin was "frustrated by something" or "trying to communicate something."

She added that dolphins "rarely do anything accidentally."

The Seaquarium released a statement about the incident on Tuesday, obtained by PEOPLE on Thursday.

"While demonstrating a practiced behavior as part of the Flipper Show on April 9th, a trainer accidentally scratched the dolphin, Sundance, with her hand," the statement read. "This was undoubtedly painful to Sundance, who reacted by breaking away from the routine and swimming towards and striking the trainer. Both Sundance and the trainer are recovering well."

"The collision between Sundance and the trainer was something that has never happened before to either of them," the statement continued. "As a result, procedures for this presentation, and others, are being evaluated. Adjustments to protocol for trainers and dolphins alike will minimize the chance of future accidents."

PETA called for the Miami Seaquarium to find a new home for its dolphins following the incident.

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"Time is up for the Miami Seaquarium, where long-suffering dolphins desperately need protection and workers are at risk," the organization said in a statement.

The welfare group added, "PETA urges this abusement park to end its exploitation of dolphins by getting them to sanctuaries as quickly as possible so that they'd never be used in tawdry shows again and no one else would get hurt."

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