As a child, I always told my parents I wanted to work with sea animals – more specifically dolphins / killer whales. I remember the first time I went to SeaWorld I was in complete awe. After seeing the trainers interacting with the killer whales during the Shamu show, I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I was older.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that math and science weren’t my strongpoints, so I gave up on studying marine biology. I started my freshman year as a PR major and there was no turning back. Soon after I watched the documentary Blackfish for the first time.
Blackfish was a huge turning point for me. I was disgusted with myself for ever even attending SeaWorld and supporting them, let alone wanting to be a part of their team as my career. I had high hopes that this documentary’s exposure meant that the park wouldn’t be keeping their killer whales for much longer.
So naturally, waking up to the news discovering that SeaWorld has plans of expanding their killer whale habitat made me furious.
According to CNN, this Blue World Project “will add 5 million gallons to the killer whale tank create a maximum depth of 50 feet and simulate underwater currents.” The new exhibits will feature a shoreline as well.
SeaWorld stated that they will “donate $10 million to study the welfare of killer whales in the wild and start a yet-to-be-disclosed ‘multi-million partnership focused on protecting the ocean.'” The first of the these three exhibits is said to open in San Diego in 2018.
Basically – SeaWorld is making huge changes because they know they’re in trouble. Their stock is down 33% and their park attendance rates and sales have dropped significantly as well. They hope doing something will make them seem not-totally-and-completely-heartless.
The problem with these changes is that they aren’t fixing the major issue: these killer whales are still in captivity. I could go on and on with everything that’s wrong with keeping these animals at SeaWorld, but I think Blackfish does a better job (I highly recommend watching it).
I can only hope that in the future I’ll live in a world where we all look back in shock that society ever thought that keeping killer whales in captivity was “normal.” Until then, all I can do is hope that these animals will live to see that day.