SAN DIEGO, California (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 additional information on the Blue World Project, please visit

ARTWORKS: © 2014 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comment(s):

Anonymous said...

This a great idea. They are even putting in $10 million for Killer whale conservation. Let see the dirt bag PETA people put some cash into conservation. They are to busy trying to kill companies instead of really helping wildlife.

Anonymous said...

Bigger tanks for creatures that should be left to live in the ocean. Haven't they done enough harm already. Sea World will never redeem itself after Blackfish exposed the truth!

Anonymous said...

Blackfish was more fiction than fact... do your research.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that these large mammals do not belong in tanks for our entertainment or observation!

Anonymous said...

Sea World is a circus. It's very sad for these whales and dolphins to be imprisoned in man made, chlorinated pools controlled by humans to make a profit.

I am sorry, but we definitely disagree with all the negative comments. We believe that SeaWorld is doing a very fine job in teaching people and helping them learn how these great marine mammals live, what they do in their life, and hoe they behave. It's much more powerful seeing them in real life rather than on a lifeless TV screen...

That said, we still appreciate all comments that are respectful of others' opinions.

Anonymous said...

Sea World is attempting to repair their tarnished public image by building bigger pools that will mimic natural habitat. No pool can compare to the ocean. They contradict their supposed goal of helping these creatures. Spending dollars on building won't help what people now know about this theme park.

Anonymous said...

You can view whales and other marine life in the sea. Whale watching and observation trips allow people to see these beauties in their natural habitat. Whales with collapsed dorsal fins not in their natural pods and enslaved to pools are not educational or humane.

Anonymous said...

Your comment about observing whales in real life equates to seeing them in the wild not in a park environment. The behaviors displayed at Sea World or any marine park are anything but natural.

Anonymous said...

Whale watching, forest treks, safari, whatever: are intrusions on the lives of these animals and when the "natural behavior" observed is influenced by the presence of the observer.

A whale surfacing will alter its course to avoid a whale watching boat, raft, diver, whatever.

If one truly believes that non-human animals on this planet are sacred and should be left alone - one should never attempt to enter their habitat and observe them. In fact, such a person would do the least amount of harm by removing _themselves_ from the planet.

To educate people about the threats to animals, such animals must not be "nameless, faceless". Everyday that kids are able to see dolphins in an aquarium is a day those kids have the potential to see those dolphins as sentient beings that should not be killed by tuna fishermen, etc. And so on.

Besides, when the situation is explained to the dolphins, the whales, i.e. "we have brought you to the aquarium not just for profit, but to build awareness of your species in the hope that mankind will treat you properly" how do we know said dolphin or whale would not agree? Are not sentient beings capable of understanding the need to give of themselves so that others might live free?

Again, if one is truly concerned man is destroying the planet - leave it now. Every bit helps right?

Anonymous said...

Intelligent people do not need a theme park full of imprisoned animals or mammals to learn or appreciate them. That explanation is ridiculous.

Truk said...

Thank You OTPN for your continued fantastic reports and updates. It's sad that with all the recent Sea world hatred, so many seem to have jumped on the bandwagon.
The makers of the Blackfish 'documentary' had one aim; to win awards by creating a controversial film.
PETA have done nothing to help the situation other than use it to stir the situation up. What are they hoping to achieve? To see Seaworld shut down and for all the creatures to be thrown back into the ocean where they know very well they will not survive? Instead of working against the park, why don't PETA aim to work with the park to continue to help improve conditions for the animals.
Am I in agreement with the orcas being kept in captivity? not entirely. But I have visited Seaworld over many years a number of times and it is clear to see the continued efforts the park makes in order to improve the animals living conditions. For me it has increased my awareness and education to an extent, as I will never have the opportunity to observe them upclose in the wild.
In my opinion, this announcement once again is a big step in the right direction for the park.

Anonymous said...

Sea World is a theme park that continues to hold these large, social and intelligent creatures captive for profit and exploitation. They also continue to breed them. It really needs to stop. Let's not continue to cover up and twist what is clearly wrong. Theme parks should be run to include rides, shows...not whales or dolphins to be trained and held captive.

B said...

I really hope that everyone who is against Seaworld and their efforts also feel this way about zoo's, Disneys Animal Kingdom, aquariums, and pet shops. There are no differences between any these besides the type of animals that are present. Oh and I hope they are vegan. Otherwise all your negative opinions are null.

Trent said...

I'm still willing to bet that Sea World does a lot more to protect animals than any Blackfish supporter does. And by protect, that means donate or volunteer, not campaign against businesses.

Anonymous said...

Sea World fueled me as a child to actually care about conservation. I continue to stand with them. Blue World looks impressive, and if these creatures are going to be presented to us for learning, this really looks like the way to do it. Artificial currents? 4 stories deep? This is a much better alternative. I'm so impressed.

Anonymous said...

Sea World & supporters contradict themselves. You can't say that you value the welfare of these animals and continue to breed and imprison them in pools. Stop the buying and breeding of whales especially. They are too large to be held in any park. No tank will ever be enough!

Anonymous said...

Sea World & supporters contradict themselves. You can't say that you value the welfare of these animals and continue to breed and imprison them in pools. Stop the buying and breeding of whales especially. They are too large to be held in any park. No tank will ever be enough!

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