This weekends performance of orcas at SeaWorld San Diego will be the last. This is part of the marine park’s commitment to end their keeping of this marine mammal species.
The decision to end the shows follows the approval by the California Coastal Commission of the ‘Blue World Project’ in 2015, which stated that the park could extend their tank sizes, but must end its orca shows and captive breeding programme.
Despite an appeal against this condition, in March 2016, SeaWorld agreed to end their orca shows and in September 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a regional bill that officially bans the breeding of orcas in captivity and the performances.
Sunday’s One Ocean finale in San Diego is the fruit of that promise. SeaWorld’s locations in San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Fla., are expected to follow suit and end their versions of the popular show by 2019.
In its place, SeaWorld will be introducing Orca Encounter, a series of shows it describes as a more educational experience.
“No longer a theatrical show, this live presentation will have the feel of an engaging documentary centered on the orca’s natural behaviors, physical attributes, intelligence, social structures and unique relationship with mankind,” according to a statement from the park.
The San Diego Union-Tribune breaks down the changes visitors can expect:
“The reimagined orca attraction, billed as an educational presentation, will lose the current stage setting, now dominated by four LED screens and a giant depiction of a whale tail. Replacing it will be a new backdrop that incorporates a rugged coastal inlet, artificial Douglas fir trees, cliffs and waterfalls. An infinity high-definition screen will highlight orca movements in the wild, as well as replays of SeaWorld killer whale maneuvers in the stadium pool.”
“In what will still be a pre-produced presentation with designated start times, trainers will cue the orcas through a series of more natural behaviors typical of killer whales in the wild — hunting, eating, communicating — accompanied by an informative narrative.”
This past weekend’s last performance is a significant milestone in the end of the exploitation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in captivity.
SeaWorld was always considered untouchable, but the production of Blackfish and the resulting public outcry and concern over the welfare of orcas in captivity, has led to the end of orca shows and orca breeding; both contributing to the triumphant fact that the orcas currently held at SeaWorld parks will be the last.