Skip to content

SeaWorld PR attempts to save-face but rescue and conservation efforts fall short

September 26, 2011
SeaWorld claims to be pro-active in marine mammal rescuesSeaWorld claims to be pro-active in marine mammal rescues

SeaWorld claims to be pro-active in marine mammal rescues

SeaWorld is seeking to clean up its image now that things are not going their way in the case against the OSHA which charges they were negligent in the “Willful” death of veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau.

On Friday, the multi-billion dollar entertainment facility issued a press release, hoping to capitalize on the just released film “Dolphin Tale”, which tells the story of a bottle-nose dolphin named Winter who was rehabilitated at athe Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They were also undoubtedly eager to offset the negative publicity surrounding the court hearing against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which was scheduled to conclude on that day. However, the hearing will reconvene in November.

From the SeaWorld press-release:

“The SeaWorld Rescue Team – which also helped with the initial rescue transport of Winter… uses their expertise and creativity every day to devise new ways to rescue, treat and return to nature these extraordinary animals.”

While this may be true of some marine animals (turtles, sea lions, seals, etc) – killer whales and dolphins do not fall into their realm of rescue, unless of course there is a potential for public display and profit. This was evident in SeaWorld’s lax response to a mass stranding of pilot whales in the Florida Keys in early May, 2011. Volunteers and non-profit organizations were on the scene immediately and heroically helped the survivors with every available resource around-the-clock. SeaWorld eventually showed up, and now two of the pilot whales are being cared for at SeaWorld. Their future is uncertain but they will likely be used for breeding purposes to continue the captive population.

The press release continued with this excerpt:

“This commitment extends to animals around the world: The company has contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship initiatives and has supported efforts on every continent, as well as operating its own well-respected wildlife rescue program.”

What they don’t state is that SeaWorld operates its rescue program through a non-profit organization called the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. This organization relies on public and federal funding which competes with truly non-profit organizations that have orca and dolphin rescues, research and education at the core of their missions. Despite the claim of contributing $50 million to conservation and rescue (over their lifetime) these grants take away money from earnest non-profits such as the Orca Network and many others which run circles around SeaWorld when it comes to true research and education. SeaWorld reportedly had $1.4 Billion in revenue in 2010 yet receives these grants to perform their rescue programs.

In the past 10 years alone, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. government oversight agency which provides oversight and guidance on the conservation of marine mammals and endangered species has awarded SeaWorld (and Hubbs-SeaWorld) almost $2 Million dollars in grants. The for-profit SeaWorld continues to take in billions off the backs of killer whales and dolphins in captivity and contributes little to their protection in the wild.

At the same time, SeaWorld is trying to acquire Morgan, a female killer whale rescued in coastal Dutch waters, despite a comprehensive and achievable plan to reintroduce her to the wild. However, the addition of her into the gene pool in the SeaWorld collection, and potential profits, apparently outweigh their claims of “rescue, treat, and release”.

We appreciate all that SeaWorld has done in the past to contribute to the research, education and conservation efforts for the highly complex, intelligent and social mammals such as dolphins and killer whales… but the time has come to evolve from keeping these amazing creatures in captivity for the exploitative entertainment industry.

For more information, please visit this informative article by Cetacean Inspiration: “Seaworld and Conservation”.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. J WEST permalink
    August 23, 2016 12:44 am

    Imagine LIVING in your AIRLINE SEAT….I was a HUGE fan of killer whale and dolphin “shows”, until free Willie, and we read about the floppy dorsal fin. Sea World breeds the most dominant males, instead of gelding them. Confines them to tanks equivalent to your AIR LINE SEAT, then lets them out to “perform”. HUNTING and capturing satisfies their natural instincts. Even my house cat has those, or my legs and feet become prey. Then Tikki killed that trainer, not his first. I read the background on him, how he was captured, what the industry was, back then. I haven’t been back, haven’t bought my season ticket, can’t bring myself to go to a Zoo. I watched the movie, the history in writing was worse. Though it was, what it was, back then. We didn’t know. We do now. SHUT IT DOWN, Take some of that money, one HALF of one year, say 2011 1 & 1/2 BILLION DOLLARS and space and build APPROPRIATE sized tanks if they can’t be released. Build a NEW show, different jobs, move on, create new life, NEW dreams for the next generations, dreams where there is something still alive and thriving in the wild. It’s the natural order. Something dies, something is born. Start something to repair what we now KNOW is wrong.

    Even crazier still, I should have known better than to be influenced by fairy tales told while watching them jump and perform, feeding very expensive bait to dolphins. Looking at the three inch, 25 year old scar on my knee. I got it from my neighbors adult chimp’s MOLAR. She was just communicating the best way she knew how, she was having a bad day and didn’t wanna play. But I choose to ignore her warnings. That’s why her owner made her wear a remote controlled shock device on her back. If she hadn’t been tethered and wearing that disk, or had her front teeth, I could be without a leg, or a face. That trainer lost her life, and she isn’t the first. How can those animals still be kept like that, and we not expect another “accident”. I can’t, I have the scar to prove it. But I’m still human, I’d like to dream again, this time of them free..Dorsals straight up.. I’ll even pay the huge admittance fee and a t-shirt maybe even a towel.

  2. Barb permalink
    April 3, 2014 1:09 am

    Question -how many pilot whales from the keys stranding did ur organization save – or care for – ? Or are still currently caring for as of this post? Or hey – any of the “other” rescue organizations that showed up … Umm that is a big ZERO – and going into a breeding program sounds pretty good to me. Stop ur ragging on sea world. Talk to the 115,000 animals they rescued/ rehabbed/ returned to wild in last 10 yrs. and see if they think Sea World sucks . Why do organizations like urs ignore this? Love sea world ! Those damn whales get better healthcare and mental stimulation then most kids in the US get – And most definitely do now – with Obama care – And public schools with common core. Ode to be a happy whale at sea world – food is always plentiful, swim all day – play with trainers who love me- and see people. Why do u assume the whales do not like doing shows? Hey I have been there done that are simply wrong. Keiko – Free Willy died 18 months after his return to the wild in the care of the Oceans Futures Society. Way to go ! Prior to his death, he was frequenting the shoreline in search of human contact – allowing kids to ride on his back. This whale died of loneliness. – & pneumonia – which if contracted in captivity – May have been successfully treated. Let’s free Tilikum

  3. October 28, 2013 3:17 pm

    Well after seeing Black Fish documentary (2013), I think Sea World is going to have their job cut out for them explaining some of their actions. Sea World is a business & about PROFIT for their shareholders. They OWN the Orcas and can do what they want with them (and have) Holding magnificent Orca in small concrete pools when they should be swimming the world, does not impress me at all.

  4. Madhumathy Sugavanam permalink
    November 18, 2011 9:07 am

    Please sign this petition to make Sea World retire their Cetacean performers to Ocean Sanctuary –

  5. Madhumathy Sugavanam permalink
    November 18, 2011 9:05 am

    Sea World takes advantage of whale and dolphin stranding and under the guise of a ‘good samaritan’, get a ‘Golden Whale’ to earn them big bucks.  The management does not really worry or think about how lonely Orcas or dolphins are in their tanks, while they go home to their wives or husbands and children.  They are depriving and forcibly denying the same to the Cetaceans who are used to close knit social groups.  If they truly care, as they keep proclaiming to the public, let them prove it.  Let them create an ocean sanctuary, with all the money the Cetaceans have earned for them, instead of a small rehabilitation center and start retiring their oldest performer.  Otherwise Sea World can be considered nothing but a ‘Glorified Circus’ , keeping animals captive and  making money off the Cetaceans performing inane tricks, that is so alien to their nature, for gullible public, who believe SW’s  rhetoric that it is ‘educational’

  6. susan hanson permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:28 am

    This media attention is probably not enough to make the change that is desired to release these beauties, but a huge start I am guessing. What can others do to help?? Do some of the PAC s support your Orca project? Do any larger organizations support this? There seems to be so many groups such as the campaign Earth Island Institute saving the dolphins, which is totally awesome but is there a unity of similar organizations?

  7. jmventre permalink
    October 1, 2011 10:36 pm

    Thank you Orca Project. Your ongoing reporting is top notch. Here are three days worth of video coverage on the SeaWorld v OSHA hearings by Anderson Cooper 360.

  8. September 28, 2011 9:15 pm

    And exactly how many rescue and conservation efforts does “The Orca Project” have done??….

    • Digit permalink
      September 30, 2011 4:31 am

      How many have “you” done then?

      I have assisted in two strandings in my home country and both times, we refloated the animals perfectly. No need to take them to a park or to heal them…
      We comforted them and helped them back into the water, and let me tell you…

      That was by far one of the most rewarding experiences ever. Far more than the times I watched Shamu do doggy tricks.

    • K. J. permalink
      October 1, 2011 8:52 pm

      You obviously have completely missed the point, Shamu. I would personally consider the educational content of The Orca Project (and contributors) to be expertly provided. The information is invaluable. It may not be what you consider to be conservation and rescue, however conservation and rescue can take place in many forms. In the case of The Orca Project, their conservation and rescue efforts are substantial in their willingness and their accuracy when reporting the truth. Perhaps due to their education, many cetaceans will be conserved and rescued – not just saving them from injuries, pollution, illness, etc. but saving them from a life of chronic stress and forced labor. People will understand that these animals do not exist upon this planet to entertain and amuse the human race. They are their own societies and they deserve their WILD space and our respect.

    • Jordan permalink
      October 7, 2011 9:19 pm

      How do you know about rescue and rehabilitation Shamu? That’s just silly, get down from there. You’re just a caricature of an orca that lives on a 2D plane, not a marine biologist. You know nothing more than to give a cheesy grin, be mischievous and give us daily Twitter posts!

  9. susan hanson permalink
    September 27, 2011 11:46 pm

    Please educate the public as much as possible on this. I am atonished on the research performed by former SeaWorld trainers on the evidence of capitivity. I will do what I can to help. Sue

  10. Arden Greenwood permalink
    September 26, 2011 8:35 pm

    Do the school projects and camp like summer sessions for school children count as educational projects?
    How can this be considered “educational” when the “education” taught is the worthiness of incarcerating orcas to perform like circus animals?

    Why would a huge corporation that takes in billions BALK at paying a measley 75,000 dollars in the horrific death of a valued and brilliant experienced trainer?

  11. Kat permalink
    September 26, 2011 7:44 am

    Yeah the truth!!


  1. traiteur rabat
  2. Secrets of Killer Whale Captivity being exposed in Courts around the World « The Orca Project

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: