Big fish, small pool

SeaWorld regulations are necessary for animal and human respect

Kelly Wynne, News Editor

The California Coastal Commission has declared a ban on SeaWorld breeding, trading and bringing in new orcas to the park. SeaWorld has declined to accept the decision and plans to take legal action, but for the time being, the end of orca captivity seems near.

SeaWorld has lost nearly $25.5 million since the documentary “Blackfish” was released in 2013, detailing the corporation’s mishandling of both orcas and their trainers. Public disapproval has since grown, putting SeaWorld under the list of things that need to change.

The three SeaWorld parks hold a total of 24 orcas in captivity. The first stone has been turned with the Coastal Commission’s decision, and with the support of the nation, these 24 may be the last.

It seems impossible to find fault in an all-American brand name that dedicates its mission to making families smile on spring break vacations. The lies SeaWorld tells to the press sugarcoat their goals fairly well. Over 3 million people visited SeaWorld last year, eating ice cream cones and laughing at the splash of the whale tails. Meanwhile, every night, the orcas returned to a single 20-foot wide, 30 feet deep pen to wait in total darkness until their trainer’s release them the next day.

SeaWorld’s captive orcas spend 2/3 of their life in a dark, living room-sized area as opposed to those in the wild swimming over 100 miles per day. This is only .0001 percent of the water wild whales swim through each day. Not to mention, the lifespan of an orca in the wild is close to 100 years, but SeaWorld tells their guests that an orca is grandpa age by the time it turns 30.

I could go on for hours about animal captivity and how wrong it is. I could write paragraph upon paragraph about how every animal on this earth should have the right to freedom and should be respected by humans. These are things I strongly believe, but SeaWorld hides much larger issues than just the respect level of their animals.

Tilikum, one of SeaWorld’s most well-know whales, is used primarily for breeding. 54 percent of SeaWorld’s orcas are his children. Tilikum has also killed at least three trainers. While SeaWorld won’t admit that the deaths and injuries at their parks are anything but trainer error, video evidence seems to tell a different story. There have been over 70 trainer attacks and deaths since SeaWorld opened, many of these stories kicked under rugs and hidden from public view. Most of these incidents begin with one of the whales pulling their trainer into the water by a limb and violently attacking them.

You may say, “They’re wild animals. What do you expect?” That point is true, but it is proven that killer whales have never actually killed, or even remotely injured a human in the wild. There is absolutely no documentation of it. SeaWorld’s orcas are becoming hostile, frustrated and bored, creating an unsafe environment for those who work to make it a better place.

The ban on orca breeding and trading at SeaWorld San Diego is the first step in creating a safe work environment for SeaWorld employees, providing the respect and freedom to wild animals that deserve it, and fostering a park I wouldn’t be ashamed to bring my children to.

SeaWorld’s excuse to sue is that killer whales should be allowed to breed, as it is inhumane to prohibit them from doing something so natural. This would be a valid excuse if the namesake did a single thing to ensure the wellbeing of their animals.

The good news is, the public has finally had enough. The state of California has taken action and the rest of the pieces can fall into place. While, sadly, these 24 orcas still in captivity have a very small chance of ever being released into the wild, they can set an example and orchestrate change in generations to come. For more information on the subject, “Blackfish,” the opinion triggering documentary, can be found on Netflix.