SeaWorld Documentary Ignites Killer Whale Controversy


The California State Assembly will hold its first committee hearing Tuesday on bill AB2140 sponsored by Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, that is pitting animal welfare activists against a staple of San Diego’s tourism industry, according to ABC News.

San Diego’s 10 killer whales would be moved into a larger sea pen and could not be bred if the Legislature approved Bloom’s bill and the governor signed it. Activists are moving to bring similar bills to Florida and Texas where SeaWorld has parks.

“They are too large, too intelligent, too socially complex and too far-ranging to be adequately cared for in captivity,” said Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, the bill’s sponsor. Rose also helped with the CNN documentary Blackfish.
Blackfish is a documentary that was created to show the point of view that killer whales in captivity become angry and impatient and in some cases very dangerous. The film details a number of attacks on human trainers by killer whales in captivity. This documentary has pr0mpted  controversy over whether killer whales should be kept in captivity.

“We object to Blackfish because its two central premises are wrong: (1) that life at SeaWorld is harmful for killer whales and for trainers working with these animals, and (2) that SeaWorld has attempted to cover up the facts surrounding the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, as well the history of Tilikum, the killer whale involved in that accident.  Nothing could be further from the truth,” said SeaWorld on the SeaWorld website.

SeaWorld is strongly disagreeing with the film and believes that the animals are fine where they are. They also say they expect an increase in costumers this year despite the well-known film, according to ABC News.

“That argument is not based on credible peer-reviewed science,” said John Reilly, president of Sea World San Diego Park, according to “It’s based on emotion and a propaganda film.”

“We are not talking about shutting down SeaWorld,”responded Rose, who believes Sea World can change its ways instead of shutting down completely, according to ABC News. “We are talking about transforming them.”