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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 266: Reef Plunge and more announced for Aquatica!

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SEAWORLD ANNOUNCES FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND KILLER WHALE ENVIRONMENT AND MORE THAN $10 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING FOR RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION PROJECTS

 

SAN DIEGO (Aug. 15, 2014) – SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it plans to build new, first-of-its-kind killer whale environments and that it will fund new programs to protect ocean health and killer whales in the wild. The new projects will build on SeaWorld’s legacy of providing state-of-the-art, innovative homes for its animals, and will offer park guests unique and inspiring killer whale encounters for generations to come. As part of its vision for the future, the company also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.

 

“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. “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.”

 

Transformational New Environments

The first of the new environments will be built at SeaWorld San Diego where the killer whale environment is planned to have a total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility. With a planned maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, the new environment will also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales.

 

Named the Blue World Project because of its size and scope, the new environment will allow for increased engagement with SeaWorld experts through new enriching experiences and other interactive programs. The environment will enhance the educational experience for guests, foster deeper knowledge of killer whales and their ocean environment and inspire them to celebrate and conserve the natural world.

 

“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.”

 

Expanding on SeaWorld’s legacy of leading-edge animal environment design, the enlarged environment will provide killer whales with even more dynamic opportunities. It will support the whales’ broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge the whales both physically and mentally. Among other things, it is planned to include a “fast water current” that allows whales to swim against moving water, thus functionally increasing speed and diversity. Innovative features focused on husbandry and animal care will offer SeaWorld’s animal health professionals and independent scientists unique access to the whales that can lead to a better understanding and care of the animals both in the parks and in the wild.

 

The San Diego environment is expected to open to the public in 2018 with new killer whale homes to follow at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio.

 

Killer Whale Research

As part of the Blue World Project, SeaWorld has committed $10 million in matching funds focused on threats to killer whales in the wild, especially those identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. That includes new projects already funded this year: one that will help to understand the hearing ranges of killer whales and the other that will provide insight into nutritional status and reproduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale. The matching funds will be in addition to killer whale research conducted by SeaWorld’s scientists, which includes nearly 50 studies to date.

 

Recognizing that ocean health is a leading concern for killer whales and all marine mammals in the wild, the company also announced it will be embarking on a major multi-million dollar partnership focused on protecting the ocean. More details of the partnership will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Advisory Panel

SeaWorld will also engage an Independent Advisory Panel to bring new perspectives and ideas to the project. The panel will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and wellbeing of the animals. Given the particular expertise of current panelists and those expected to join, the panel will further advise on integrated research projects that can be conducted within the new environment and foster partnerships within the science and academic communities working in the wild.

 

Current Advisory Panel members include:

 

• Dr. Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education, Association of Zoos & Aquariums

• Dr. Heidi Harley, Professor of Psychology, New College of Florida

• Dr. Dorian Houser, Director of Conservation and Biological Research, National Marine Mammal Foundation

• Dr. Linda Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

• Dr. Shawn Noren, Associate Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz

• Mr. Tom Otten, Chief Executive Officer, Reef Experience

• Dr. James F. Peddie, DVM, Distinguished Faculty Chair, Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Moorpark College

• Dr. Paul Ponganis, Research Physiologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

• Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer and National Director, Film and Television Unit, American Humane Association

• Dr. Pam Yochem, Senior Research Scientist and Executive Vice President, Research, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute

 

 

"SeaWorld's capital investment will create a significant number of new jobs in our community and help drive the economy when construction begins at the Orlando park. Beyond that, it will enhance tourism by providing a state-of-the-art experience for visitors while providing valuable new research and educational opportunities in animal health and behavior," said Representative Daniel Webster (FL-10).

 

“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.”

 

For more information on the Blue World Project, please visit http://www.seaworld.com/blueworld

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Site plan for Sea World San Diego's new habitat. Others should be similar.

Edited by robbalvey
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This is seriously a great response for SeaWorld in my opinion.

 

Not only are they doubling the habitat for the animals, but they are also matching donations to help with the Southern Resident Orcas. I would like to see PETA donate the same amount of money, but I am dreaming.

 

I actually am just coming off a merchandise internship at SeaWorld (my last day was yesterday), and guests are always in such awe of the orcas, so it is awesome seeing that SeaWorld is doing their best to keep them around for the long term, and provide them with a great place to live.

 

On a side note: first post on the forum, but long time fan on Facebook. Hi everyone!

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This is seriously a great response for SeaWorld in my opinion.

 

Not only are they doubling the habitat for the animals, but they are also matching donations to help with the Southern Resident Orcas. I would like to see PETA donate the same amount of money, but I am dreaming.

 

I actually am just coming off a merchandise internship at SeaWorld (my last day was yesterday), and guests are always in such awe of the orcas, so it is awesome seeing that SeaWorld is doing their best to keep them around for the long term, and provide them with a great place to live.

 

On a side note: first post on the forum, but long time fan on Facebook. Hi everyone!

 

I agree! This is awesome! I am fortunate enough to work at SWSD and I was at the underwater viewing area last week and kept thinking to myself I would love to see them do something different with that area and now it's happening. Exciting!

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Were they forced into this as a response due to Blackfish? Or has this been in the works for a while now?

 

Seaworld's poor second-quarter earnings report caused stocks to drop by 33% on Wednesday, I'm assuming that would have something to do with this.

 

I'm inclined to think that while the movie-related fallout might've moved up the timetable of the announcement, the project itself has probably been in the works for some time.

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They are probably going to be taking one of the existing pools and transforming it. I don't exactly know which one, while the dine with Shamu tank would seem like the obvious choice.. they just redid that a few years ago. There is another tank underneath an awning with quite a bit of room behind it. I'm not sure though, we just have to wait and see.

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Were they forced into this as a response due to Blackfish? Or has this been in the works for a while now?

 

Seaworld's poor second-quarter earnings report caused stocks to drop by 33% on Wednesday, I'm assuming that would have something to do with this.

 

I'm inclined to think that while the movie-related fallout might've moved up the timetable of the announcement, the project itself has probably been in the works for some time.

 

Definitely not doubting that, but I think they've just been waiting to announce this the second that Blackfish affected the company's bottom line.

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What I am curious about though is where are they going to find the room for the expansion in the Orlando park.

 

I mean they have Wild Arctic and Shamu's Happy Harbor right next to it, and Bayside Stadium is near that as well.

 

If I had to muster a guess... I'd say goodbye to Bayside stadium and a good portion of the lake! Just a guess. Also imagine the views from the skytower if that panned out! Fingers crossed! Amazing announcement! Very excited!

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We also don't know if this might be a new build for Orlando, or a retro-fit of another stadium which will become the Shamu Stadium. And as far as Shamu's Happy Harbor goes, I would have to think that a bunch of kids rides and play areas would be easier to move than have to fill in a lake and remove a whole other stadium.

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There's no way they are removing Happy Harbor, Wild Arctic or Bayside Stadium. Harbor and Arctic are in front of the stadium entrance. Bayside is way too far from the Stadium.

 

My guess is that E pool will be expanded backwards and towards the bottom of the image, possibly D pool being removed or placed somewhere else.

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Excellent update for the orca tanks. The concept art reminds me of the aesthetic they were going for with SWSD's dolphin tank, just on a much larger scale. Can't wait to see the finished product!

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^Doubtful... But then again, there are plenty of us that don't feel like SeaWorld has any need to be redeemed.

 

Either way, this looks like an incredible addition to each of the three parks. Definitely interested to see just how quickly work will begin on SeaWorld Orlando's version!

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This is fantastic! It really is a dead space where they intend on expanding, so this will be a nice filler- though I wholeheartedly agree that it's about time they expanded Shamu's tank. Giving some TLC to their orcas and re-iterating their efforts is a perfect counter to Blackfish lounge chair critics.

 

As for Orlando, I can imagine them possibly merging the G and E tanks and building the Shamu Close-Up tank to where D2 (Q2?... it's blurry) is.

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For anyone curious about the media spin on this release...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Appear Less Heartless, SeaWorld Is Building Bigger Bathtubs for Its Killer Whales

By Jordan Weissmann, Slate Magazine

 

SeaWorld Entertainment has finally acknowledged that public revulsion over the company’s treatment of its killer whales is hurting business—and a few oh-so-lucky cetaceans will get to enjoy their very own “water treadmill” as a result. On Wednesday, SeaWorld’s stock price crashed by about a third after management delivered an earnings report chock full of dismal revenue and attendance figures. Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, SeaWorld is responding by announcing plans to spruce up its orca habitats. They will now have bigger, fancier swimming pools to call home:

 

The company plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, beginning with the San Diego location. The new enclosure in San Diego will be almost double the size of the current one, holding about 10 million gallons of water and extending to a depth of 50 feet. The company wouldn't specify the cost of the upgrades, only saying it would be several hundred million dollars.

And about that new exercise equipment:

 

The San Diego facility will include a "water treadmill" system letting the whales swim against a stream of moving water, allowing them more exercise but also opening the door to new research into how the animals burn energy. The system will be the first of its kind in the world, the company says.

More exercise will be nice. None of this addresses the fundamental issue: that these are massive, highly social mammals, who normally travel upwards of 100 miles in a day, and who are being kept in captivity in order to do tricks for tourists. A bigger bathtub prison is still a bathtub prison.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/08/15/seaworld_building_new_tanks_for_its_whales_a_fancy_bathtub_is_still_a_bathtub.html

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For anyone curious about the media spin on this release...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Appear Less Heartless, SeaWorld Is Building Bigger Bathtubs for Its Killer Whales

By Jordan Weissmann, Slate Magazine

 

SeaWorld Entertainment has finally acknowledged that public revulsion over the company’s treatment of its killer whales is hurting business—and a few oh-so-lucky cetaceans will get to enjoy their very own “water treadmill” as a result. On Wednesday, SeaWorld’s stock price crashed by about a third after management delivered an earnings report chock full of dismal revenue and attendance figures. Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, SeaWorld is responding by announcing plans to spruce up its orca habitats. They will now have bigger, fancier swimming pools to call home:

 

The company plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, beginning with the San Diego location. The new enclosure in San Diego will be almost double the size of the current one, holding about 10 million gallons of water and extending to a depth of 50 feet. The company wouldn't specify the cost of the upgrades, only saying it would be several hundred million dollars.

And about that new exercise equipment:

 

The San Diego facility will include a "water treadmill" system letting the whales swim against a stream of moving water, allowing them more exercise but also opening the door to new research into how the animals burn energy. The system will be the first of its kind in the world, the company says.

More exercise will be nice. None of this addresses the fundamental issue: that these are massive, highly social mammals, who normally travel upwards of 100 miles in a day, and who are being kept in captivity in order to do tricks for tourists. A bigger bathtub prison is still a bathtub prison.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/08/15/seaworld_building_new_tanks_for_its_whales_a_fancy_bathtub_is_still_a_bathtub.html

 

The comparison ont the Slate article reminds me of the Halden Prison in Norway since it is quite luxurious.

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The thing about the activists are they are so unrealistic. These whales, even if SW were ever to close, would most likely NEVER be released into the ocean. They would most likely go to other parks throughout the world like Marineland Canada, Mundo Marino, Loro Parque, Marineland Canada, Sea World Kamogawa and perhaps other parks that would like to have Killer whales on display with no knowledge of how to care for them. SW closing would only complicate things.

 

 

Maybe the best option is to stop all further captivity of large creatures such as the whale? I like how the article put it, It's a big bathtub. It'd be like enclosing you inside a mansion all of your life. Sure, it's big, sure you can get your exercise and survive, but give it a while and you will go insane. That's just my humble opinion and I respect everyone's viewpoints on the subject,

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The new plans look great, kind of remind me of Sea World Australia's huge dolphin enclosure in the way they're making it seem more like a "natural" environment and less like a giant swimming pool.

 

In my view, there is absolutely nothing SeaWorld can do that will make PETA and other activist groups happy. These groups exist to protest and they are more interested in making noise than achieving an outcome. If a park caves in to their demands, activists will just find something else to complain about.

 

If PETA were really interested in a the well-being of a bigger number of fish, they should go after anyone who keeps goldfish! I mean, how many million goldfish must be out there stuck in tiny bowls, as opposed to a hundred or so killer whales living in amusement parks?

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Then again, it can be said the same for any animal we, as humans ,cage up. I'm thinking any zoo, fish tank in your home, heck even little tweety in its cage at grandmas house. At least Sea World is preserving animals as best as we humans can try, as we have destroyed so much of their natural habitats, and the work they and others do is invaluable. Left to the way humans do things, the only animals left on this planet would soon be only those that we deem worthy of as food or cute little house pets.

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