Today SeaWorld has announced plans to build new, far larger killer whale environments at all three SeaWorld parks, the first of which will open in SeaWorld San Diego in 2018 with others to follow in Orlando and San Antonio.
These new habitats will have a maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, offering the whales more room to swim.
Guests will see views exceeding 40 feet in height, what SeaWorld calls the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales. The area will include a “fast water current” to allow whales to swim across moving water.
The company has also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, in which SeaWorld says they will invest hundreds of millions of dollars.
“For 50 years, SeaWorld has transformed how the world views marine life. The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations,” said Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc, in a prepared statement. “Our new killer whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate, and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”
“Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,” said Atchison. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above.”
SeaWorld will also engage an Independent Advisory Panel that will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and wellbeing of the animals, featuring panel members from universities, zoos, and aquariums around the country.
“Like so many others in science and industry, we are constantly learning more about how we can evolve our knowledge and continue to learn more about these amazing animals and stewardship of those in the wild,” Atchison said. “We look forward to working with these experts to build on these learnings and achieve our vision of increased knowledge of killer whales and global efforts to protect those in the wild.”
The announcement of the Blue World Project follows tremendous backlash against SeaWorld due to the CNN-owned documentary “Blackfish” that blasts the parks for mishandling and mistreatment of animals. Since its airing, many have risen up against SeaWorld. Most recently this week, SeaWorld’s latest financial reports revealed a drop in attendance and subsequently a drop in stock value.
For more information on the Blue World Project, visit www.seaworld.com/blueworld.