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SeaWorld San Diego officially cancels plans for $100 million orca tank expansion

in Park Secrets, SeaWorld Orlando, Theme Parks

In a letter to the California Coastal Commission this week, SeaWorld San Diego has officially confirmed that they no longer have intentions to enlarge the killer whale tanks at its San Diego park. The project was originally called “Blue World”.

This is huge news, especially considering the $100 million proposal that was confirmed. But it looks like all that is out the window now, considering it was commissioned to stop all orca breeding. The park has since sued the Commission, stating that they have no legal power to make such a decision. It’s all very muddy, but I’m sure animal rights activists are having a field day (I know our commenters will).

“This letter serves as SeaWorld San Diego’s formal withdrawal of coastal development permit Application 6-15-0424 for the Blue World orca habitat expansion,” reads the letter sent Monday to the commission. “Closing the Blue World application file at this time means SeaWorld’s legal challenge to the proposed project conditions no longer is warranted. SeaWorld counsel soon will contact Coastal Commission counsel to discuss dismissal of the pending litigation.”

Given the fact that SeaWorld now has $100 million lying around, they have promised that they will be dedicating that money towards new attractions and the growth of the park. I’m very interested in seeing how this situation plays out, given the fact that the company has been in an uphill struggle against multiple activists and organizations since the release of the film Blackfish back in 2013.

So what do you all think of this new development and the cancelling of the Blue World project? Let me know what you think in the comments below — and keep it classy.

46 Comments

  1. EricJ

    So just to be clear, it was the Coastal Commission that shut down Sea World’s long-range orca breeding–
    Even if THEY were motivated by hack job documentaries, rather than if Sea World’s fans had been.

    1. Julie

      oh, please. SeaWorld is simply confirming the fact that they don’t care about their animals’ well-being, and it’s all about the money. SW is a joke and they aren’t even trying to disguise it anymore.

      They are an appalling, heinous FOR PROFIT organization that makes money off the suffering and imprisonment of intelligent, far-ranging, family-centric animals that are doomed to be quite literally worked to death in their death camp of hell.

      1. jaret

        I hope you only eat grass because you wouldn’t wnat cow keep on farms. Free the cows and chickens from death camps of farm. LOL

      2. David

        Tell us how you REALLY FEEL Julie.

        From your comments, I assume that you do not own any product manufactured in China. Many would say that people there are “doomed to be quite literally worked to death in their death camp of hell” as well.

      3. Shawn C

        LOL!
        You’re quite the nutter you are

      4. Mathew Steveson

        It is truly sad that SeaWorld is being crucified for this. Without marine parks & aquariums like SeaWorld the public awareness for these majestic creatures wouldn’t exist. By bringing awareness to the world SeaWorld has created their own unfortunate demise.

        I see comments by people saying how vile of a place it is and how they wouldn’t take their kids there because they have these animals in captivity. It amazes me how people can be so incredibly set on an idea they have heard without actually experiencing it for themselves. How do you know that the conditions are bad if you have never investigated the situation yourself.

        I have personally visited SeaWorld countless times in both San Diego and Orlando I have seen first hand all the incredible things that they do with their rescue programs. This wouldn’t be possible without park attendance they aren’t printing money in the back room.

        Yes they are a For Profit company but I guarantee that every person who has commented on this being slavery or them only caring about the money has either a family pet (in captivity) and or has an income which allows for more than a bread and water diet. I think we could all look in the mirror and do some soul searching before we decide what evil truly is.

        1. L Milton

          I have never seen captive cetaceans, and neither have my children. My ten year old son wants to be a marine biologist and is absolutely mad about cetaceans, sharks and octopuses, so beg to differ with you Matthew Steveson. I don’t think that we have any captive cetaceans in the U.K anyway! There are so many fantastic wildlife documentaries that you don’t need to see animals acting in an unnatural way in an unnatural environment. There also plenty of trips and tours enabling people to see killer whales and dolphins live in the wild. You can also watch OrcaLab.org and see live streaming of killer whales. There is no need to keep animals which need vast amounts of space (they can 100 miles a day) captive.

          Yes, I have a pet dog. He was a starving stray rescued from the streets of Romania. I don’t think that keeping a pet which has evolved to live along side us, compares to keeping killer whales. Your argument is based on distraction anyway. You seem to be saying that if we use one animal, then it is acceptable to use all animals (without considering the suitability of various species for our purposes). Cetaceans are particularly intelligent, need vast amounts of space, have been shown to be super empathic, and are wild beings. These animals should not suffer as a public entertainment.

        2. Chris

          Did you really just compare keeping wild, far-roaming marine cetaceans in a too-small tank to having animals that were domesticat ed thousands of years ago? And I have been to SeaWorld, Orlando and San Diego just as you have. And guess what, my little brothers (5 and 8 years old at the time) went to San Diego with us (this was before I began advocating the orcas’ release). One of the first things they said was that the Orcas are so big and the tanks are so small. 5 and 8 years old and they already understood that. 2 years later they are both just as much advocates as I am.

        3. helen keenleyside

          i have not been sea world and never will as i believe it is better to see these whales and dolphins in their natural habitat namely the ocean,, many countries now do whale watch and it is an amazing experience the way these dolphins are caught is disgusting look at this site and tell me your happy to watch these animals perform https://dolphinproject.net/ project such barbaric killing going on to feed public demand to see these poor creatures perform.

        4. karen

          well said

  2. Garaan

    I don’t see where the controversy is. They’ve already said they’re pulling out of the orca thing, so why the hell would they go ahead and spend 100mil on something they’ll never need? Kind of a no-brainer.

    That said, I’d like to see the CA park put in some of the coasters and other things that the FL park already has, or a dark ride. Actually… hell, make a dark ride (along the lines of this one that Disney’s doing for Pandora) only make it through the Marianas Trench and have it full of animatronic deep sea bioluminescent fish that people would never have a chance to see in real life? You could do that AND a couple coasters and probably still have money to refurb some enclosures and save a few turtles to boot.

  3. Melanie Scott

    They need to let all the animals be free they are slaves it’s just not right that’s my opinion I have five children an I will never go to sea world or any other park for that matter that does that to animals that rip families apart my god watch over those animals an they will be in my prayers🙏🏻I would never want my children thinking that is okay because it’s not smh

    1. rochestermark

      Melanie
      If any park or zoo freed the captive animals, these animals would die in the wild. They dont know how to hunt nor protect themselves. Is this what you want?

      Most, if not all of these animals in zoos and animal parks are or were injured or rescued as “exotic pets”. Freeing them would kill them.

      Let’s all do the humane thing

    2. Mathew Steveson

      Them teach them that it’s not ok to break up a family and them give them a hug because one day they are going to grow up and leave you.

  4. Julie

    Such a vile place. How anyone could choose to go there willingly, to look at sick, depressed animals in miniscule enclosures is beyond me.

    And such angry, heartless people who commented! I guess we know where to find the pro-cap, pro-SeaWorld, anti-animal rights folks! How’s the Kool Aid, guys?

    1. EricJ

      “Kool-aid”?…Is that one them-there slang terms for “Mindlessly unified red-rover propaganda fed to you by other people”? 😉

      And as Adam says, enjoy your field day. Don’t twist an ankle on the sack races.

    2. Amanda

      Do you go to the zoo, county fairs or aquariums? Just curious…

    3. rochestermark

      Julie
      Have you ever seen the Dolphins at Sea World? They seem to really love it there. They do not look the least bit depressed — far from it. These are injured dolphins that cannot survive in the ocean.

      Is not the humane thing to rehab them and give them a better life? Dolphin need interaction with others mammals — and they are getting that at Sea World in spades.

      I think they really enjoy doing the shows

      1. Sarah Baker

        Umm have u watched blackish like he’ll are any of those poor mammals are happy in the having there young taken away and starved so they do there ticks they are not bloody dogs ffs they are caring mammals with feelings and emotions

      2. helen keenleyside

        lmao listen to yourself you have no idea ,,, go here see how dolphins are ripped from their families ,,,,https://dolphinproject.net/

  5. david

    They can build what they want as long as they dont exceed the height limit and dont try and take any more san diego parkland on the bay

  6. Amanda

    I don’t know how many of you actually live in San Diego, but Sea World actually does a lot of good for our local wildlife. There has been so many sea lions that have had sea world come to their rescue. Heck, one little guy made his way into a bar once and who came to rescue him, feed him and get him back to health? Not PETA, but Sea World. They rescue them, take them to the backstage part of sea world and get them back to health and then release them. But of course no one applauds Sea World for what they do for the wildlife. People only see the negative side. I agree that the shame show has got to go and they do need a bigger tank, but releasing killer whales back into the ocean after they have become so depended on humans is just silly. Would you take the family dog to the park and drop him off? I hope not. Same thing with Shamu and Sea World. The whales are very well taken care of; they have better “health insurance” then most people I know. I personally used to know killer whale trainers and I had asked them about the treatment of whales and the reply I got was this… “If i thought in ANY way we were causing harm to the animals, I would quit.” This trainer is now working at Orlando. I apologize for this long rant, but honestly, people need to think before they speak. One final though….Why isn’t PETA outside of the Zoo losing their minds? Zoo’s (at least what I think) are 100% much worse than Sea World. They have animals from all over the world! Animals that are not use to the climates in some cities!! Anyways, rant over.

    1. rochestermark

      Great “rant” AManda
      Well said

      I believe that Sea World has rescued and released over 27,000 animals.
      How is this not good — or even GREAT!

    2. garaan

      PETA are a bunch of screaming hypocrites after nothing but money and publicity. The head of the organization HATES all bully breeds and thinks they should be exterminated. PETA has an over 90% KILL RATE at their shelter because they think slaughtering a child’s puppy is ‘better for it’.

      They’re insane. I wish I had an easy link to the huge list of their shameless atrocities done ‘in the name of the animals’ but they’re a complete sham and I’m sure you could find the stuff if you wanted to.

      Also, ever notice they never throw their paint over leather-wearing bikers? Just over old ladies in fur coats. They seek the most low-hanging of fruit.

    3. karen

      I totally agree with you. I do hope sea world will expand the orac tanks.

  7. Kenneth

    I believe in SeaWorld and all the good they do. I was pissed off at them however when they didn’t defend themselves when Blackfish came out 3 years ago. If they had, the decision to no longer breed them would never have come to light. As one ex-trainer (Kyle Kittleson) pointed out on his periscope video the day after, “SeaWorld is one of the best organizations in the world for rescue, rehabilitation, rescue & conservation. However, they are one of the worst companies in the world when it comes to advertising, public relations & media.” Another thing that bothered me about this decision, was current CEO Joel Manby coming out 6 weeks before this and saying that SeaWorld was going to do better to defend itself against the media, animal activists & politicians who have looked to ridicule them. And then came March 16 2016, a day that will live in infamy for a SeaWorld & Zoological supporters alike. I don’t know what the future of the company is going to look like 40-50 years from now when the whales are all gone from all the parks. None of us now can honestly say that. In fact, most of us (late 20’s to current senior citizens) will either be dead or dying by the time the last Orca is gone. So stay tuned.

    1. sam

      So the problem isn’t that they keep these giant creatures in little fish tanks and force them to do tricks for handfuls of sardines it’s bad advertising?

      1. Shannon

        They aren’t forced to do tricks. There is no way in hell to force an orca to do something it doesn’t want to do. Zoos and aquariums use positive reinforcement as a training too which gives the animals an option to do it or not and the animals get rewarded for doing it and no reaction for not doing that.

        1. kp

          You are missing the point. Theses are not natural behaviors, communities.or habitats for these animals.

  8. Jen

    They should expand the orca tanks by opening them right up into the bay there and then opening the bay into the ocean let the whales swim freely in and out…..my guess is they would never in a million years ever swim back!

    And since we all know that will never happen, I am really happy to see that sea world is taking on the role of a 2 year old in the situation oh we can’t breed our whales any longer well then we are going to punish our whales so more then, maybe just maybe after we make them even more frustrated that the gobble up more trainers aka staff they will let us breed them again… oe word to describe the people I charge at SeaWorld right now….assholes

    1. rochestermark

      They would not swim back as you say because they would die in the Ocean as they dont know how to hunt and they dont know how to defend themselves.

  9. Not sure what’s more painful to watch, a hallowed entertainment chain dying before one’s eyes, or the simple fact their entire death spiral is due to a level of tone deaf incompetence that beggars imagination.

    Farewell SeaWorld, we enjoyed your time while we had it, your continued thrashing and unseemly behaviour is now beginning to affect the rest of the industry…you can go now, follow the light.

    1. rochestermark

      and what replaces the effort to rescue over 27,000 injured seal animals?

  10. Marlon

    I’ve gotta step in here…Melanie, Julie…all of you….ultimately….regardless of what you or any anti-SeaWorld folks say or agree with…the fact of the matter is that SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove ( mainly animals inside) was rated the #2 park in the world via TripAdvisor yesterday and their other parks were on the top 20 list too respectively. So ultimately, whether you are “happy or ashamed ” or wouldn’t take your ” 5 -10-20- kids ” there….apparently not everyone is on your side….and that’s why despite of ” low ” attendance…in the Theme Park world…any park ( with or without animals or roller coasters or entertainment) that gets 4/5 + Million annual visitors per park ( SEAWORLD ORLANDO GETS THIS MANY) …is no joke…. and I’m sure that there’s a ton of businesses …possibly including your own employer…that would love to see a fraction of that many customers spending their money there. So I say take whether you take your kids right now or not….trust me when I tell you that as your children grow up they’ll surprise you on everything…from behavior to lifestyles to decisions and to what makes them individuals and NOT MOMMY’S KIDS.
    I believe you’re taking more away from them than what they actually are gaining. Go SeaWorld!

  11. mark sonnenberg

    hey the commission would not let seaworld build this thing without killing off their whale program, and since they are not building this thing, the commission has no say so I say expand the whale program in their face. People don’t care about animals they never see. Its places like seaworld that cause people to care and love these animals.

  12. Zillow Fukuman

    This project was merely a front to try to import Russian Orcas, caught from the wild, to breed more whales. Why else would the Blue World proposal contain the words “no whales taken from the wild after Feb. 12, 2014, nor would it use killer whale genetic material taken from the wild after the same date.” That date later was changed to January 2012 to avert the possible import of Russian-caught orcas. That was STRIKE ONE. STRIKE TWO was the breeding ban. And the little known STRIKE THREE is that Seaworld realized they probably couldn’t get away with surreptitiously disposing of the tainted, Haz-Mat grade soil that the excavation would have required, as Seaworld is built upon an old military landfill. When the Manta Ride was built they trucked all that polluted soil out into the Utah desert in the middle of the night and dumped it, figuring the fine they had to pay was more fiscally advantageous than doing the ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE thing of having it properly processed. Yep…. Seaworld sure cares…… for money, that is.

  13. Just my opinion – it disappoints me that Sea World is not revamping the exhibit to be larger for the whales to enjoy.
    I’m all for releasing the whales back into the wild – the idea is NICE – but I personally don’t see it realistically being in the whales best interest. They’ve been in captivity for too long. I’m aware I’m not a marine biologist, veterinarian, etc etc – but neither are the majority of people here (readers).

    Some are optimistic – but I don’t see Sea World ever releasing the whales to a wild environment – and I don’t think any amount of posters with hand drawn orcas and messages of hate for Sea World and love for the whales is going to change that.
    When Sea World first showcased orcas at their parks – we were all mesmerized and loved every minute of it. We were ignorant to the issues we’ve come to realize were issues over time – but all in all – it’s too late to fix the situation “perfectly”.
    AGAIN – just my view on it. Agree to disagree – whatever you have to do.

    I think the exhibit should be enlarged and mimic nature to the fullest possible way – and let the whales enjoy what years they have left on this earth. No circus acts – just more room to enjoy what they (the whales) are familiar with already.

  14. Debbie Brent

    Despicable and sickening. Sea World needs to be prosecuted and fined for animal abuse and cruelty and it’s centers need to boycotted and CLOSED !!!!

  15. Kim

    Fukushima…Pacific Ocean irradiated…continually becoming a more poisoned ocean…MAYBE Sea World should plan on being equipped to rescue a tumor filled Orca here and there in the future…or breed a couple of healthy whales…just saying.

  16. karen

    My only concern is for the well-being of the whales. I really hope SeaWorld executives will change their minds and expand the whales habitat.

  17. Naomi

    That’s seriously makes me sad. I was so excited for the new improvements.

  18. Sondra Armendariz

    You people who think it’s ok with what SeaWorld is doing are fucking sick!!!! How would you feel if that was your child? Just because you don’t speak their language, you feel it’s ok to be barbaric????? Get real!!! I have seen these shows. For those of you who think they aren’t FORCED to do these shows, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO BE FEED????!!!!!

  19. Chelsea

    This disgusts me, they don’t release their animals back to their natural habitat like they’re supposed to, they shouldn’t have orcas to begin with unless it needs medical help. Those poor animals are stuck in a glass box and they can’t even make it bigger for them?! They profit off the cruelty of animals maybe they treat them nice here, but those animals deserve a normal life.

  20. Julian

    LMFAO some of you kill me. “Release the whales back into their natural habitat.” “How would you feel if it was your child.” Some of you really need to do research before commenting. I would guess about 90-95% of the Orcas now at the Sea World parks were bred IN the parks. So, saying “release the whales back into the wild” would be the stupidest thing and honestly be irresponsible for Sea World to release them. The whales don’t know life beyond their tanks and so releasing them into the waters (a lot being polluted) would harm the whales in more ways than you can imagine. So keep saying Sea World is horrible in keeping the whales “from their natural habitat”, it just further shows how ignorant and narrow-minded you are.

    Now, for this expansion that was cancelled and saying Sea World only cares about money; that is partially true. Why invest 100m into a project that in 20-30yrs will just cost them more money to tear down and make a new attraction. Since they are not breeding whales anymore, they need to change the focus of their income into expanding other parts of the park to continue funding their marine rescue operation. Where do you think the funding comes from? They have to think long term for the park and their marine rescue operations; you do know that Sea World does care for more than just whales right? The whales are well taken care of and a lot of their focus of the park is on the whales, but I find it funny that people crucify Sea World to focus on their company (parks and marine rescue) and not the whales anymore. They wont stop what they have been doing of course and are still give 24hr care for them, but for them to continue to care for the whales they need the funding (meaning other park attractions and attendance) to continue.

    Think with your brains and not your hearts. If the whales are released, they will die in months time because they don’t know the wild. Then you would blame Sea World for not training them to learn
    skills that they only learn in the wild. Since most of the Whales have not lived in the wild, they would be sending them to their deaths. So stop with “brutality” and “torturous” talk that you CLAIM is being done to these whales, because you are VERY wrong.

    and one more time…LMFAO at all you people bitching about this

  21. N.

    An expansion of the SW orca pools would actually have been a good thing. As it is, their orca pools are too small and overcrowded, a bigger habitat would have greatly improved their living conditions.
    And no, SW has no intetion of letting their orcas go free. Most of them are captive born and have no wild family and no survival skills anyway, a successcful rehabilitation would be highly unlikely.

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