Why I'm Still Not Impressed With SeaWorld
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

Why I'm Still Not Impressed With SeaWorld

It's too little, too late.

42
Why I'm Still Not Impressed With SeaWorld
The Orca Project

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm utterly obsessed with whales, specifically orcas. I watched "Free Willy" several times a week, and dressed up as an orca whale for my first grade talent show. The first website I ever visited was about orca whales. I remember going to SeaWorld around that time and watching a show in Shamu Stadium, but I don't think we hung around for very long. If I recall correctly, I was unimpressed because SeaWorld lacked the amount of rides that Universal Studios and Disney World had.

Like the rest of the USA, I watched "Blackfish" and it reignited my love for orcas. Sure, it's not a perfect documentary; it is clearly biased against SeaWorld, and the only pro-captivity cast member (Mark Simmons) barely got any screen time. I did my own research on these whales to corroborate that their lives in the wild are very different from their lives in captivity. I have no doubt that the animal trainers do their very best for their charges, but at the top of the organization, the bottom line is money. Initially, my reaction to SeaWorld's announcement that they are ending their orca program was elation. Then I took a moment to really think about it, and now I'm less than impressed with their assurances that they "heard" me.

First and foremost, marine mammal experts were working toward an end of orca display programs all over the country before "Free Willy" stole hearts and led to the release of its star, Keiko. While Keiko's release was imperfect, experts had noticed a significant improvement in his overall health and demeanor when he was moved out of Reino Aventura (a small entertainment park in Mexico) and into the hands of professionals. He performed very well in his ocean pen, but the goal was not to keep him there forever. Scientists truly believed they could find Keiko's pod. Keiko had other plans, and ran away while he was being "walked" in the open ocean. He was spotted with wild orcas, but never did find his home. He later died of pneumonia. SeaWorld liked to call this "unsuccessful" in order to feather their argument for continued captivity of their orca stock. However, there are too many factors at play to call this unsuccessful; Keiko was ailing when he was flown to North America to rehabilitate, suffering from severe sunburns and skin lesions. His outlook had he remained in Reino Aventura was not good. Who's to say he wouldn't have died sooner if he hadn't been released?

Obviously, you can't just set whales free like Jesse did in "Free Willy." That's irresponsible. However, scientists have learned from their mistakes with Keiko and believe that rehabilitation and a transition to ocean pens would be good options for captive whales. The whales will still be dependent on human interaction, but they will be in a natural environment many times larger than the tanks at SeaWorld. They will also be cared for by experts, rather than well-meaning trainers. If SeaWorld partnered with these scientists, they could see a return on investment by repairing their image. More people will go to SeaWorld parks if they can trust SeaWorld to do the right thing. Their attendance has already improved since their big announcement.

Think about it: SeaWorld has been resisting release of captive orca whales for at least 20 years before "Blackfish," and spent the following two years denying that their whales weren't sick or aggressive, and continued to assert that their training program was just fine and dandy. They have paid members of congress to fight any changes to legislation which allows permits for public display of orcas, dolphins, walrus, and other marine mammal species. They have argued against the scientific research which proves that wild whales live longer and have a better quality of life in comparison to captive whales. They do in-house necropsies and don't release records of what caused a captive animal's death to the public. They insist that their program is still relevant because people can't afford to go whale watching, when in reality a trip to a SeaWorld park costs almost as much as a whale watching tour. They don't pay their trainers a decent wage, even though the trainers put their necks on the line every day (you can find a comprehensive list of documented orca attacks on humans here). They have been less than interested in anything other than the bottom line: the almighty dollar.

So they're putting an end to their shows and ending their breeding program. That's fantastic, but it's not enough. SeaWorld is still going to make money from public display. The whales will continue to get antibiotic-resistant infections like the one Tilikum (the subject of "Blackfish") has right now. Since captive whales' immune systems are compromised by constant antibiotic intake, they will die before their wild counterparts who may already be 20+ years older than they are. Without the shows the whales will lose some external stimuli, which could lead to increased aggression toward other animals and trainers. They're going to suffer just as much as they did before.

But until the last orca dies, SeaWorld will still be making money.

Too little, too late.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Adulting

Life Is Messy

Finding who you are in your 20s

369
Life Is Messy
https://www.pexels.com/photo/shallow-focus-photography-of-yellow-sunflower-field-under-sunny-sky-1169084/

I am 25 years old and just now learning who I am. When I separated from my husband I was terrified of what would follow. I did not know who I was outside of a relationship, nor did I know how to be on my own. It was scary, and I was so lost. I spent months discovering who I was, and what I wanted to be. I am still searching as I believe we never truly know who we are even when we "grow up". I came to the realization that I had been hiding a part of myself for my entire life. Coming out was not easy, growing up in the church made it scary, and hard. I was told growing up that being anything but straight was such a sin, and that i would spent my life in hell because of it. I came out to my parents when I was 25 years old. I picked up the phone and called my mom, and uttered the words "I'm queer" through tears. I knew my parents would be supportive, but that didn't make it any easier for me to vulnerable and raw. Since then, I have slowly started being more authentic in who I am, and not hide parts of me just because of people's shitty opinions.

Keep Reading... Show less
Adulting

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

38965
Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

9573
Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

10934
Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less
Dating Apps

We Met At A Bar

Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

7718
We Met At A Bar
Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments