The San Francisco Chronicle reports that on Friday, SeaWorld announced that it is planning new, larger environments for its animals with additional funds going to research on its animals and programs to protect ocean health and whales in the ocean. Sea World denied accusations that its actions are a response to the 2013 documentary Blackfish and subsequent criticism of the company from the release of the film.
Blackfish asserted that the small areas for the whales and the park’s treatment of them prompted the whales to become violent, and trainers have died as a result. A number of performers have canceled appearances at Sea World’s parks as a result of the film’s assertions, and there was a severing of the partnership between Sea World and Southwest Airlines.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. stated that the new tank, to be premiered in 2018 in San Diego, will be 50 feet deep and 350 feet long, and hold 10 million gallons of water; the old tank held roughly half that amount. The Wall Street Journal reported that it would cost “several hundred million dollars.”
The company calls the new tank the Blue World Project, and said it will include a “fast water current” permitting whales to swim against moving water. Sea World said new tanks will follow San Diego’s in Orlando and San Antonio.
FOX 5 in San Diego reported that a spokesman for Sea World said, “It’ll be a real adventure, I’ll tell you. It’s going to be a new thing in the environment. I expect to see a whole lot of play. That’s the most exciting thing about this.” He added, “We work tirelessly day-in and day-out, to care for these animals, and that’s all our team is focused on right now.”
“Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite disagreed, saying that the change wouldn’t help the whales. She said, “None of this would change in a bigger pool. What people are upset about is that whales are not suitable to captivity.”
Cowperthwaite told ABC 10 in San Diego, “I do appreciate the fact that this corporation is willing to change something and admit something is wrong for the first time, but instead of changing their business model, they are doubling down on it.”
Cowperthwaite continued: “Sea World has announced it is going to expand internationally. So basically it is going to be needing more whales. So I think people in the know are sort of saying, it’s very clear that these bigger pools are going to be filled with more whales.”
Sea World currently has 10 killer whales.
Sea World told ABC 10 that “There are no merits to those comments.”