In short, Andrews was saying that if Tilikum died, his death would be NMFS' fault. A day later, NMFS granted SeaWorld the permission it sought to transport Tilikum to SeaWorld Florida on an emergency basis. And according to SeaWorld's Marine Mammal Inventory Report, Tilikum was on his way to SeaWorld one day after that.
Huxter agrees that Brad Andrews was going a bit over the top with his efforts to paint the most dire picture of Tilikum's situation. But he also emphasizes that in his view the impact of confinement on Tilikum's well-being was very real and in some ways profound:
We continued to keep Tilikum in the module to ensure that there was no disruption to the Haida's nursing of her calf. However, we began to get concerned. Tilikum had spent time in the module before, it was a familiar circumstance for him. However, in this situation there was a distinct change in Tilikum's behaviour. In all his years at Sealand, I had never seen him so immobile in the module; he was listless at the surface all of the time. He floated for hours on the surface at the gate and facing the pool that held Haida, her calf, and Nootka. He seldom moved around and primarily only when he was offered food. For the first few days he ate well but his appetite seemed to fade and there were times when we would give him food and he would simply let it slide out of his mouth and let it sink to the bottom of the module pool.
The skin around and behind his head and blowhole was always dry and it started to split. An ointment was applied to keep the skin moist, which prevented further splitting of his skin. His behaviour was so troubling that it was decided to open the gate and allow him to enter the main pool. Haida's calf was nursing well and it was determined that Haida and her calf were well bonded.
When Tilikum entered the pool, Nootka immediately swam toward him, forcing Tilikum back into the module. Over the next few days, every time that Tilikum ventured into the main pool; as soon as Haida or Nootka noticed him, Tilikum would immediately re-enter the module and lay on the surface at the gate. Sometimes he would lay on the surface with his head and half of his body out of the module but he wouldn't venture any further.
There is no doubt in my mind that Tilikum was under great stress but it was worse than that. I had observed Tilikum under stress before but this was different. It felt to me that he had fallen into a deep depression. It was both alarming and depressing for me to see him that way.
His behaviour did not change until the day we lifted him from the pool and he was transferred to SeaWorld, Orlando.