SeaWorld Expands Killer Whale Environments After 'Blackfish', But Is It Enough?
By Rosalyn Oshmyansky
There will be a new and improved SeaWorld in 2018. SeaWorld is expanding its habitats for killer whale after the controversy stemming from the 2013 documentary Blackfish.
The award-winning documentary follows performing orca Tilikum that has killed several people during his 30 years at the theme park. This caused backlash for SeaWorld as it exposes cruel treatment of Tilikum in captivity and interviews former SeaWorld trainers.
At the time, SeaWorld responded in a statement about the film saying it was "inaccurate and misleading."
Now with declining ticket sales and falling stock prices, SeaWorld is taking action to improve the habitats.
The new environment is called "The Blue World Project." SeaWorld is also pouring more than $10 million in new funding for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership that will focus on ocean health.
Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld said in a statement, "Our new killer whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate, and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild."
In what will be the world's largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales. the environment will have a total water volume of 10 million gallons which is double that of the existing facility. More dimensions include a planned depth of 50 feet, 1.5 acres of surface area and views exceeding 40 feet in height.
Atchison described it as one where visitors can walk alongside the whales, watch them interact at depths found in the ocean or take in a view from above.
The San Diego experience will be the first in 2018, and the sea-parks in Orlando and San Antonio will follow and build new homes too.
However, Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite spoke to Bloomberg about the proposed changes.
"I do appreciate the fact that SeaWorld is willing to admit that something is wrong, for the first time, but the problem is, instead of changing their business model, they’re doubling down. None of this would change in a bigger pool. What people are upset about is that whales are not suitable to captivity."
To watch another must-see documentary, Adrian Grenier examines drug abuse in Hollywood. Watch what he has to say about it here.