Orcas Need the Ocean, Not a Bigger Box!

by on September 25, 2015 · 2 comments

in California, Culture, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

Orca SeaWorld OrcaResearchTrustBy Susan Millward/ Animal Welfare Institute /September 24, 2015

SeaWorld Entertainment announced the “Blue World” Project last year.

The project proposes to invest $100 million per park (for a total of $300 million) for the construction of a larger tank next to each park’s Shamu Stadium, to display the company’s orcas when they are not performing.

Superficially, this appears to be an effort to improve the welfare of these large ocean predators by giving them more space, and certainly more space might improve the overall well-being of the whales. However, even a tank up to 50 feet deep and covering over an acre of horizontal space is not big enough for a species that can easily travel 100 miles in a day.

In fact, according to the architectural plans for the new enclosure, the orcas at SeaWorld San Diego will not have free access to it. The new enclosure will be connected to the existing Shamu Stadium by a narrow channel with gates at either end, which will be open and closed as determined by training staff. The orcas will not be able to choose which enclosure they wish to be in.

Unfortunately, the real purpose of the Blue World Project may be to ensure the future of captive orca display. This kind of capital investment will commit many parties, including the city of San Diego (the first park location for the project) and the SeaWorld Entertainment board of directors, to maintaining captive orcas in perpetuity.

Once these tanks are built, it will be much more difficult to end the captive display of orcas, as legislative efforts such as California’s AB2140 seek to do. In addition, SeaWorld has made it clear that it intends to breed more orcas to fill the larger space, negating any benefits the bigger tank will offer the 11 orcas currently held in San Diego.

But the first administrative hurdle SeaWorld San Diego must clear is acquiring a permit from the California Coastal Commission (CCC).

As noted on its website, the mission of the CCC is to

“protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.”

It was established by state law in 1972 and issues permits for activities that will have an impact on California’s coastal zone, such as the Blue World Project.

What You Can Do:
The CCC will consider the Blue World Project proposal, CDP Application No. 6-15-0422, at its October hearing in Long Beach. AWI will be present to testify against the permit application, but the CCC needs to hear from all concerned citizens about this proposal. Please contact the CCC to let the commissioners know why this permit should be rejected! You can contact the CCC through AWI’s Compassion Index by clicking here.

Please also attend the October 8 hearing at 9:00 AM at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center’s Seaside Ballroom (300 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802). it is recommended that you arrive early to secure your place in the room.


Susan Millward is the Executive Director of Animal Welfare Institute

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

obsurfer September 26, 2015 at 1:25 am

Today I was on a fishing boat out of point loma and we crossed paths with a pod of pilot whales. They would take turns surfacing, blowing air, and diving, on a straight course, a multitude of whales in a pod moving at their own pace across open ocean, headed to who knows where…

To think any whale could be happy in an enclosed tank is ludicrous. So sad for the animals imprisoned at sea world. Truly sorry. And knowing this makes me see the zoo and wild animal park in the same light. I agree with their missions of conservation but the public, corporate, spectacle the parks are is just wrong. I’m sorry but if you can’t get out on the open ocean you can watch a video on youtube right this second. Theres no excuse for keeping animals in zoos or theme parks. Even though I am a huge carnivore and fish eater even the sport fishing atmosphere just felt dirty to me. But really, I’d understand and accept an inuit or even southern Californian (yes a pod of “shamus” was just off our coast) killing a whale and eating it way before I would accept a theme park, corporation, enslaving and torturing), wild animals. Sea World/San Diego Zoo/San Diego Wild Animal park/Point Loma “sport”fishing…you should all be ashamed.


obsurfer September 26, 2015 at 1:27 am

also I feel like any argument over sea world which doesn’t include the zoo and wild animal park is shortsighted, prejudiced, and misplaced.


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