As part of the marine park’s so-called “Blue World Project,” SeaWorld has applied to the California Coastal Commission to build new tanks. But don’t let the orca prison fool you! SeaWorld will never be able to construct tanks that allow orcas to swim anywhere near the distance they would in the wild. An enriching environment is crucial to orcas’ well-being, and tanks deprive them of the physical and mental stimulation that the ocean would provide.
Here are some big problems with SeaWorld’s proposed Blue World Project tanks:
The orcas still won’t be able to dive.
In the wild, orcas dive up to 1,000 feet, but the tanks that SeaWorld wants to build would be only 50 feet deep. The company wants to increase the depth of its current tanks by just 15 feet, which is nothing for an orca, who can grow to be up to 30 feet long.
The tanks come up short.
SeaWorld’s proposed new tanks are only 350 feet long—that’s less than one-tenth of a mile! In the wild, orcas may travel up to 100 miles every day. One orca pod has even been observed swimming nearly 138 miles in a day.
The orcas can’t wait.
In the last 10 years, seven orcas owned by SeaWorld have died at an average age of less than 13, whereas orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years—and some even live to be more than 100. A recent paper written by two former SeaWorld trainers in the journal Marine Mammal Science revealed that the median age of death for captive orcas in the U.S. is just 12 years and that 63 percent of whales who’ve died in captivity spent less than six years in tanks before their death.
The tanks deny orcas everything that is natural and important to them.
As an alternative to tanks, orca experts have recommended constructing a coastal sanctuary or a sea pen, which would allow the orcas to live in the ocean once again. In seaside sanctuaries, orcas could still be monitored and cared for, but they’d be able to experience the ocean and interact with other marine life—which would be heaven compared to what they endure in the chemically treated water of SeaWorld’s tanks.
The tanks would waste money that could be used for conservation.
SeaWorld plans to spend $95 million to construct new tanks as part of its proposed Blue World Project, but coastal sanctuaries or sea pens could be created for a fraction of that cost, saving tens of millions of dollars that could be used to help care for the orcas. The new tanks would cost more money than what SeaWorld is projected to spend on rescue and conservation over 13 years!
The public doesn’t support the tanks.
SeaWorld had 1 million fewer visitors last year, and more than 100,000 people have already asked the California Coastal Commission to vote against the park’s plans to keep orcas in artificial tanks. If SeaWorld truly cares about the well-being of orcas, it should cancel its Blue World Project plans and invest in coastal sanctuaries where marine mammals could experience the ocean as they would in the wild.