Friday, October 9, 2015

Unanimous Coastal Commission Ruling Breathes Life into #Blackfish Bill AB2140

Anyone who carefully observes or works for SeaWorld (SW) probably realizes that things with the company are often not what they appear to be. 

SW spends tens of millions, annually, to craft perceptions, win politicians, lobby, & also to tarnish critics. Think how far that money could go toward salmon restoration. Sending bus-loads of hourly employees to Long Beach in an attempt influence optics for the CA Coastal Commission hearings is a good return on investment, usually

On 8 October 2015 SeaWorld bused hundreds of workers & family to the Long Beach Convention Center to create an illusion; to conflate the reality that only 21% of Americans support orca captivity with the lie that captivity has strong public support. It doesn't, and the numbers are dwindling in North America & Europe. 

Dr Ingrid Visser with Actress-Model Pamela Anderson. Both spoke at the hearings. Photo by Kim Ventre 

Long Beach was the site of the California Coastal Commission's (CCC) hearing on SeaWorld's proposed Blue World project. An expansion that is intended to boost SeaWorld's captive orca population through natural & artificial insemination methods. The hearing was an historic one in terms of attendance & public engagement. 

SeaWorld's "mob buses" brought in plenty, but the workers may have been on the clock, because what happened next is curious

#EmptyThe.... Chairs! -- Did SeaWorld want to avoid overtime to workers on the clock? 

Maybe SW didn't want to pay overtime; who knows? But SeaWorld support evaporated when the buses had to go back to headquarters. This was an hour or more prior to the conclusion of the hearings.  Thus, only a few SeaWorld employees remained to hear the Commission's decision. And the ones that stayed didn't like what they heard. 

2 bad days @ work. You'd think a risky job, like pro football player, would come with union protection. Not @SeaWorld

In a unanimous vote the CCC granted SeaWorld the right to build Blue World, but with a major condition: 

>> No more orca breeding <<

------------------------Dr Visser Speaks at the Hearing -------------------------

As reported by The Times of San Diego: 

By a 12-0 vote, the California Coastal Commission blessed the Blue World Project. The decision came at an overflow meeting in the Long Beach Convention Center that saw dozens of passionate speeches, including one by animal-rights activist Pamela Anderson. 
But Commissioner Dayna Bochco of San Francisco, a San Diego native with major environmental connections, proposed an amendment to prohibit any breeding of orcas, their artificial insemination or their trade or transfer among other parks. Another condition is a cap of 15 whales at the San Diego attraction, which now houses 11. 
Bochco’s amendment to Condition 1 passed 11-1, with only Greg Cox — a San Diego County supervisor — dissenting.

Predictably, the "no breeding" condition didn't sit well with SeaWorld's planners and leadership. The statement by CEO Joel Manby is somewhat ironic, considering SeaWorld has traditionally argued that it's whales have no rights. As "property" SeaWorld can trade, sell and move killer whales around as it sees fit, within the law.  

Ironic that the "warden" is claiming that captive orcas  have rights 

Here's the Misdirection Play by SeaWorld

As we've stated, of all three SeaWorld parks, San Diego makes the least sense for Blue World project. They don't own the land; San Diego does. Construction costs are higher in California vs Texas or Orlando. The corporate headquarters & highest attended park is in Florida. And lastly, Texas and Florida don't need to ask a commission for approval. The politics favor Orlando and San Antonio as cheaper & easier places to dig a 50 ft. hole. 

---------------------------------- Kimberly Ventre Speaks at hearing -----------------------------------


The #BlueWorld push is about power, clout & paving the way forward by ramping up the captivity machine in San Diego; while simultaneously killing Assemblymember Richard Bloom's "Blackfish Bill AB-2140." 

In short, it's an ego-based plan, formulated in haste, as a reaction to SeaWorld's collapsing stock in 2014. 

AB-2140 is described here: 
Summary of Richard Bloom's Orca Welfare and Safety Act, AB-2140

SeaWorld understands that if the Commission green-lights the expensive Blue World Project, legislators will be in a bind to later vote for AB-2140, which would end killer whale shows in California. 

SeaWorld's Rationale 

Blue World is planned to be a multi year, multi-million dollar deal that would affect hundreds of families & thousands of jobs around California, as well as the politicians that represent them. If approved it would involve construction crews, crane operators, engineers, water quality experts, environmental scientists, architects, employment contracts, and more. It is strongly supported by the San Diego business community & politicians on both sides of the aisle. But... 


Not So Fast 

Now, with a unanimous Commission vote against captive breeding, AB-2140 has new legs.  It was apparent soon after the final vote. See below, and get ready to support the bill's sponsors, including Assemblymember Bloom and former SeaWorld trainers Carol Ray, Samantha Berg and John Hargrove. Listen to Carol, here, discussing it. 

Regarding the Blue World Project, its future is now uncertain. Some predict that SeaWorld will file a suit vs the CCC, which would open up more bad press for the struggling captivity corporation.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Latest Lawsuit Names SeaWorld & Four Other Defendants



Defendants, and for cause of action would show unto the Court as follows:

On information and belief... Plaintiff and JH were engaged in conversation that included Plaintiff confiding in JH...  multiple times during the conversation Hargrove addressed Plaintiff by name. At no time, either prior to, or during the conversation, did Plaintiff or Hargrove consent to the videotaping or recording of their telephone conversation. Nevertheless, Defendants Jimmy Vera and/or Bridget Davis (who were present with Hargrove at the time of the conversation) video recorded the conversation between Plaintiff and Hargrove.

On further information and belief, in March 2015 (and subsequent to Hargrove having been featured in the 2013 film entitled "Blackfish" -- a documentary aimed at creating public awareness regarding Defendant SeaWorld's alleged propensity to put profits over the safety of the animals kept in captivity), Defendant SeaWorld, by and through Defendant AwesomeOcean, paid a large sum of money to Defendant Davis and/or Defendant Vera for the video recorded telephone conversation between Plaintiff and Hargrove. On information and belief, both Defendant Davis and Defendant Vera are, and at all times relevant to this lawsuit have been, employees of Defendant Sea World.

Shortly after procuring the video recorded telephone conversation from Defendant Davis and/or Defendant Vera, on information and belief, Defendant SeaWorld forwarded said video to Defendant Orlando Sentinel and requested that Defendant Orlando Sentinel publicly disseminate the video.

Thereafter, Defendant Orlando Sentinel publicly disseminated the video recorded telephone conversation at issue through publication in its newspaper, via its website, and (on information and belief) through various other media outlets, including Defendant AwesomeOcean's website.

The above delineated acts and/or omissions of the 5 Defendants constitute violations of several laws in both the State of Texas, and the State of Florida, as follows:


The elements of a cause of action under the Texas Civil Wiretap Act are the following:

a) The Plaintiff was a party to the communication.
b) The Defendants engaged in one or more of the following acts:

Intercepted the contents of the communication with an electronic, mechanical, or other device without the consent of one of the parties to the communication ("nonconsensual interception"), attempted to make a nonconsensual interception of the contents of the communication, employed or obtained another to make a nonconsensual interception of the contents of the communication, used information it knew or reasonably should have known was obtained by a nonconsensual interception of the communication, or  divulged information it knew or reasonably should have known was obtained by a nonconsensual interception of the communication.

Accordingly, as delineated herein above, because all five Defendants violated one or more of the foregoing provisions of the Texas Civil Wiretap Act, all five Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages

Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' gross negligence, malice, or actual fraud, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003

Attorney fees

Plaintiff is entitled to recover reasonable and necessary attorney fees under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §123.004(5).

Statutory damages

Plaintiff is entitled to recover statutory damages in the amount of $10,000.00 from each Defendant, for each occurrence, pursuant to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §123.004(3).

Count 2 - Intrusion on Seclusion.  

As delineated herein above, Defendants intentionally intruded on Plaintiff's solitude/seclusion/private affairs.The intrusion was a kind that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. Defendants' wrongful acts caused injury to Plaintiff, which resulted in damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages. Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' malice, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003(a).

Count 3 - Public Disclosure of Private Facts. 

In the alternative/addition to other counts, Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for invasion of privacy by public disclosure of private facts, to wit:

Defendants publicized information about the Plaintiff's private life.The publicity of Plaintiff's private information would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The information publicized was not of legitimate public concern. Defendants' wrongful acts caused injury to Plaintiff, which resulted in damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages. 

Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' malice, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003(a).

Count 4 - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress In the alternative to all other counts, Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for intentional infliction of emotional distress, to wit:

a) The Plaintiff is a person.
b) Defendants acted intentionally or recklessly.
c) The emotional distress suffered by the Plaintiff was severe.
d) Defendants' conduct was extreme and outrageous.
e) Defendants' conduct proximately caused the Plaintiff's emotional distress.
f) No alternative cause of action would provide a remedy for the severe emotional distress caused by Defendants' conduct.

Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to monetary damages as prayed for herein below.


Plaintiff demands a jury trial and tenders the appropriate fee with this petition.


Under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 194, Plaintiff requests that Defendants disclose, within 50 days of the service of this request, the information or material described in Rule 194.2.


For these reasons, Plaintiff asks that the Court issue citation for Defendants to appear and answer, and that Plaintiff be awarded a judgment against Defendants for the following:

a) Actual damages.
b) Statutory damages.
c) Exemplary damages.
d) Prejudgment and postjudgment interest.
e) Court costs.
f) All other relief to which Plaintiff may be justly entitled.

Respectfully submitted,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why is SeaWorld Announcing Unna's Bladder Infection to the World?

Thank you to @Mendette for pointing us to the Merck Veterinary Manual. The entry in it regarding mycotic infections in marine mammals provides insights for all of us that explain why SeaWorld's captive orca Unna is sick; potentially seriously & hopefully not terminally.  

Image from Center for Whale Research shows genital slit in a wild female. Unna is now on powerful medications

"This common mycotic disease in captive cetaceans occurs secondary to stress, unbalanced water disinfection with chlorines, or indiscriminate antibiotic therapy. Candidiasis is also reported in pinnipeds. "
Merck Manual Excerpt

The reason Unna's  immune system is compromised is from captivity itself. And The Manual explicitly connects captivity with fungal infections due to stress

[The Merck Manual is a medical textbook of diagnosis and therapy]

The serious nature of her illness is likely the reason SeaWorld has proactively announced it (read their press release below) just in case the company faces a public relations nightmare prior to the upcoming California Coastal Commission Hearing in Long Beach, on October 8th. 


Is this proactive damage control? We hope not.  

At SeaWorld, Unna's stress is caused by many factors including social strife from miniaturized & crowded movement boundaries, social & genetic incompatibility, abnormal diet, deconditioning, & chronic dehydration (the reason for gelatin supplementation). She suffers teeth damage, from sunburn & and also chronic noise pollution. 

Mendette told us: 
I'm so worried about Unna.

And also took action: 
I searched all day and all I could find on Mycotic Diseases is here (The Merck Manual on Veterinary Medicine).

Below is SeaWorld's Press Release, first; followed by a description of mycotic infections in cetaceans from The Merck Manual.  We hope you'll read both. The pathogen isolated in Unna's bladder is Candida. Bold accents have been added to certain key words. 


Killer whale veterinarians and trainers at SeaWorld San Antonio are giving around-the-clock attention and medical care to Unna, a female killer whale with suspected cystitis caused by a fungal infection.

Preliminary tests show that the fungus is Candida, an organism that is pervasive in the environment and found in many different animals including whales and dolphins. Experts are still determining the species of Candida and its susceptibility to specific medications, as this particular fungus does not appear to be acting like normal Candida. It appears to be resistant to commonly used medications, and we are working aggressively to overcome this challenge.

---  END SeaWorld Press Annoucement 

--------------------------- Below is the Entry from the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine on Fungal Infections in Captives ------------------

Mycotic Diseases of Marine Mammals

Captive marine mammals seem particularly prone to fungal infections (see Fungal Infections). Most appear to be secondary to stress, environmental compromise, or other infectious disease. Some systemic mycoses have distinct geographic distributions. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and confirmed by identification of the organism in biopsy or, preferably, culture. Wet mounts in lactophenol or cotton blue may render an immediate diagnosis with some of the morphologically distinct fungi. Tissue smears cleared in warm 10% potassium hydroxide can be examined to identify characteristic fruiting bodies or hyphae.

This common mycotic disease in captive cetaceans occurs secondary to stress, unbalanced water disinfection with chlorines, or indiscriminate antibiotic therapy. Candidiasis is also reported in pinnipeds. 

In cetaceans, the lesions usually are found around body orifices. At necropsy, esophageal ulcers are often found, particularly in the area of the gastroesophageal junction... 

Diagnosis is based on identification of the yeast in cultures or biopsy. 

[NOTE: These are Unna's medical options]

Candidiasis generally responds well to ketoconazole (6 mg/kg, PO, sid) along with correction of any environmental deficits. Supplementation with prednisolone (0.01 mg/kg) may be appropriate to compensate for ketoconazole inhibition of glucocorticoid production. Fluconazole (2 mg/kg, bid) has also been used successfully. 

One anecdotal report suggests a possible toxic reaction to ketoconazole in a northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris). Early detection and treatment is usually successful. Another opportunistic yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans, has been diagnosed in fatal advanced pulmonary disease in a bottlenose dolphin. Prolonged treatment with itraconazole (120 days) at routine mammalian doses was ineffective despite serum drug levels above the suggested therapeutic range.


For those studying cetacean confinement & exploitation, this condition with Unna is a hallmark manifestation of the physiological stresses associated with captivity at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Superpod Four Recap & Superpod Five

Superpod Four was a success with many of the goals being achieved. It was well attended and whales were plentiful. For the 4th time in the past five years people walked away informed & inspired. Some will take action based on new knowledge. 

Jeff Friedman leads a group on his boat, The Peregrine. J. Ventre photo 

After years of evidence-based analyses and debate, there is little doubt that the removal of the lower four Snake River Dams is critical to improving the health of the Northwest salmon fishery, the region, & to the survival of the endangered Southern Resident Killer whale clan. 

This move not only helps whales, but stakeholders. The return of potentially tens of millions of salmon each year provides not only food for humans & predators, but organic material for soil, grasses, shrubs, crops, trees & small critters. Conversely, stagnant warm water behind dams kills fish, collects toxic sediment, & blocks the cycle of life. 

A dam to a river is the equivalent of a clogged artery.  It's time we...  #LetItFlow

Due to being very high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Salmon help unclog arteries in humans. We should return the favor. 

We sincerely apologize to Adam Wicks-Arshack whose moving short film, Treaty Talks, A Journey Up the Columbia River for People & Salmon did not get screened due to lectures running late, combined with ferry scheduling & poor communication (translation, "cell service," while on the island). 

We've embedded Treaty Talks Here, so you can watch it. Adam's film takes on salmon restoration as the cameras follow his crew from Astoria to the headwaters of the Columbia River in hand-carved canoes painted to represent five species of salmon that use the river. The Grand Coulee dam, one of many they passed, has NO fish passage. It's a must see film for those interested in this issue. 

The documentary DamNation, did screen at Superpod Four, & nicely encapsulated the argument for removing deadbeat dams. An all-star panel followed the screening & we learned that dams are not just detrimental to salmon passage, but also expensive; a key point that politicians need to be made aware of. After seeing wild killer whales at Superpod Four, Blackfish cast member John Hargrove took direct action and called The Whitehouse. Consider doing the same. 

From a summary memo (something to tell The Whitehouse):   
"The four lower Snake River dams impede access to more than 5300 miles of prime salmon habitat and operate with huge public subsidies, largely to maintain a seaport 465 miles inland at Lewiston, Idaho 
The fastest way to recover Snake River salmon according to many scientists and the court overseeing the fish litigation in the Columbia Basin is to remove the four lower Snake River dams."

Laurel & Ryan aboard the Western Prince "Blackfish trip" -- Photo JV
During the past week connections were made & collaborations initiated. These are the people that will get the job done. Over 300 individuals registered although we don't have an official count on how many people actually attended. Based on the final party at the Center for Whale Research, it was "a lot." All three "local" orca pods participated with plenty of J's, K's and L's making appearances throughout the week. 

Making the correlation (for hundreds of participants) between dwindling salmon & the endangered killer whale population was the biggest accomplishment of Superpod Four. 

Photo JV

The new babies looked healthy & much socializing, foraging & resting behaviors were witnessed from the shores, including at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse, as well as from the sea. Several authors, including Sandra Pollard, "Puget Sound Whales for Sale," David Neiwart, "Of Orcas & Men," and John Hargrove, "Beneath the Surface," all had excellent interactive presentations. Their books are all hyperlinked above. 

Much gratitude to Jeff Friedman and Dr. Deborah Giles for doing the on-island organizing, working the mics, and the securing of venues. It paid off during the event and time will tell what comes of the orca-salmon people cross-pollination. 

The Community Theater was a Great Venue for Lectures             Photo JV
The Community Theater was a great space and the presentations were informative. 

Killer Whale Families were Plentiful at #Superpod4 - And not a single collapsed dorsal fin. 

A Los Angeles based film crew led by Tessa Rapaczynski did an amazingly effective IndieGoGo campaign, raising enough funds to begin producing a new short film or documentary. (Hint for next year). 

They obtained interviews from notable orca scientists Ken Balcomb and Ingrid Visser as well as the staff at the Center for Whale Research & many others. The @SuperpodDoc team was all over the island & the Haro Strait and we can't wait to see what they'll produce in the months ahead. 

Kudos to that depth of vision, drive and execution, not to mention the faith they had in the event itself to deliver top rate material in just 5 days. With "black n whites" around... it's not hard to do. 

Derik, Riana & Dalton Nelson were on island to raise awareness with live music including this original song for Lolita.  

Dr Ingrid Visser and Blackfish cast members had a great live L.A. Talk Radio interview with The Barbi Twins, Jani Shultz & Captain Paul Watson. That interview is archived, HERE, & gets into several different issues regarding SeaWorld, whale watching, & the captivity debate. 

Dr Visser's rousing lecture received a standing ovation. Here she describes how SeaWorld & the captivity industry "green-washes" captures & calls them "rescues"    Photo: Jeffrey Ventre 

It will take many months for us to absorb everything that happened at #Superpod4, from the lectures to the amazing killer whales, bald eagles, seals, humpbacks & everything else. And this recap is not comprehensive in any way. There was a LOT going on. 

The weather was blue skies until the final day, when it turned wet, but that didn't stop the Southern Residents from making a pass by the Center for Whale Research for the final party. Like last year, the whale's timing couldn't have been better. 

Blackfish Cast Members Host & Help Put On Superpod Events Along with Jeff Friedman & Others

The Road Ahead: #Superpod5

This year our event theme was salmon. In 2016 we look to The Future & honor the new young leaders of the animal justice movement. They are the ones who will #EmptyTheTanks and redirect our global human society toward a sustainable course. We've already reached out... and with their help and leadership, next years event will take another step forward. 

#Superpod5: The Future
Dates: Mon-Fri, July 18-22, 2016 


Stay tuned for more material here and @Voice_OT_Orcas (interviews, presentations, photos, and more). Hashtags #Superpod5, #Blackfish, #EmptyTheTanks, & #LetItFlow (dam removal) are in full effect. I hope to see you at #Superpod5, The Future. JV

Photo JV

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SeaWorld's Corporate Spy was in Much Deeper than PETA

On 14 July 2015 PETA announced it had busted Paul T. McComb, a SeaWorld employee, for corporate espionage. 

Immediately & via social media, the animal justice movement mobilized and dozens or maybe hundreds of screenshots, videos & images of McComb began showing up across the internet. The perpetrator, using the alias "Thomas Jones," had not just been involved with PETA demonstrations, but also the activities of its former employees, such as at the Superpod Three gathering and at SeaWorld protests. Here he is from August of 2012. This screenshot was shared: 

It illustrates Jones mixing it up with SeaWorld critics, digging around for information regarding a documentary film that was "217 days" away. The "counter," referred to above, was the countdown timer posted here at VOTO, indicating when Blackfish would premier at the Sundance Film Festival. Thus, we know Jones was active as early as August of 2012.  

"Thomas Jones" on the Left, posing as a SeaWorld protester. SeaWorld Employee Paul T. McComb on the Right

Today the story has gone international with Joel Manby, SeaWorld's CEO, issuing a public statement
"The allegations made yesterday against a SeaWorld employee are very concerning. These allegations, if true, are not consistent with the values of the SeaWorld organization and will not be tolerated. The SeaWorld Board of Directors and I have initiated an investigation into this matter which will be led by independent outside counsel, Ron Olson of Munger, Tolles & Olson, whose firm will have full access to our organization and people. In addition, we have placed the employee in question on paid administrative leave pending the findings of the investigation. We will take all appropriate actions based on the results of the investigation to ensure that the integrity and values of the SeaWorld organization are upheld."

Democracy Now! has published this piece which includes interviews with attorney Matthew Strugar, PETA volunteer Hal Weiss; and Will Potter, investigative reporter: 

According to Bloomberg
Jones used social media to contact other protesters for information... He also urged activists on. “Grab your pitch forks and torches. Time to take down SeaWorld,” Jones said in comments on Facebook before a July 4, 2014, SeaWorld protest.
Photos of Jones posted on his Facebook page resemble those of McComb on the page of his wife, Brittany McComb. Reached by phone, she confirmed she is married to Paul McComb, while declining to answer other questions. The Facebook page of Brittany McComb, which was available Monday, has since been taken down.

July 2014: Jones Attends #Superpod3, a gathering hosted by ex SeaWorld trainers that features lectures, Q&A panels, whale watching trips, social events and also the mixing of bloggers, activists, & journalists with prominent killer whale experts.   

This slideshow by Dr. John Jett was video bootlegged by a SeaWorld mole at Superpod3 and published online after the event

At The Whale Museum:

Notice Jones in the white T-shirt below. He's positioned in the front row for a lecture on captive killer whale survival. The speaker requested that the material not be recorded or published so as to not jeopardize it's publication status at a respected journal. Despite this request a bootleg video showed up published online and being shared among SeaWorld employees and fans. 

McComb, with camera in hand, about to record a lecture on captive orca survival:
In just 48 hours we now know that there are at least 4 SeaWorld moles who have infiltrated activist events

In addition to PETA protests, it's clear that Jones attended many other events since at least 2012, and he doesn't appear to be the only corporate mole. There are images of four suspected SeaWorld infiltrators here.   

While Voice of the Orcas absolutely does not condone many of Jones' posts--which try to incite violence, we do welcome Jones and all SeaWorld employees to attend any and all of our events. Hopefully, Jones met some amazing people in the San Juan Islands, was able to see wild orcas and learn about their sophisticated lives from many of the world's top scientists. 

The Irony. A SeaWorld Employee Holds Up a "Free Corky" Banner at Superpod Three 

We know how difficult it must be to see a wild killer whale swimming with their extended families over 100's of miles and then return to SeaWorld and see them in small tanks. We are sure Jones' life has been turned upside down in the last few days. He is another small cog in the SeaWorld corporate machinery which will do anything to protect the idea of captivity and the profits it yields. 

We wish him well and welcome him back, along with all SeaWorld trainers and employees. Join us at Superpod 4.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

An Open Letter to the California Coastal Commission Regarding SeaWorld Entertainment Corporation

Note: We encourage our readers to pen their own message to the CA Coastal Commission at this specific email address: 

Refer to Item:  CDP Application No. 6-15-0422:  SeaWorld Orca Enclosure Expansion.

By FAX:  (619) 767-2384
By Regular Mail: California Coastal Commission
7575 Metropolitan Drive #103
San Diego, CA 92108
Hearing: October 8, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. Long Beach, CA


Dear California Coastal Commission:

On August 15, 2014, less than 48-hours after its value collapsed at the New York Stock Exchange, SeaWorld Entertainment corporation, SEAS, announced plans to dig a 50 foot deep killer whale habitat in Mission Bay, California, on land that is leased from the city of San Diego & without obtaining the needed permits from your commission.

We posted a blog about the announcement last year, here.  

As you know, this announcement was made in haste, by a corporation that has lost nearly half its market value since August of 2014, is deeply in debt, thanks to Blackstone, and by a company whose industry is slowly dying in North America. 

Cetacean captivity is being phased out in first world countries. It is prohibited in several nations, regions, & municipalities around the world, and the trend is not favorable for the industry. There are no captive cetaceans in the United Kingdom. The Province of Alberta, Canada, just passed "The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," in May, which "prohibits the breeding and acquisition of killer whales." 

There is currently a tabled bill in California, The Orca Welfare & Safety Act, AB-2140, that is awaiting a vote. This bill, if made into law, would end killer whale circus shows in California and prevent captive breeding and the transportation of killer whale reproductive cells (gametes) across state lines. Other bills have been proposed in Washington & New York States. 

Times are changing. Most people now oppose captivity

Read an article about this data HERE.    See the Edge Research memo HERE

SeaWorld parking lots have been relatively empty lately. The public is catching on & millions of young people are rejecting SeaWorld's business model of circus style performances using highly intelligent & social marine mammals. Medical records show that SeaWorld orcas are sometimes given benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) to "mellow" them out and according to the chart note below, prevent "Ikaika" from "attempting to breed the calf." Does this sound natural to The Commission? 

SeaWorld has become the butt of late night jokes. Conan, below, refers specifically to SeaWorld's new plan for pool expansion. 

As recently as 2012, SeaWorld was cited & fined for polluting Mission Bay, and it wasn't the first offense. Please see this excerpt from Frank Gormlie of the  San Diego Free Press 23 October 2012:

SeaWorld is not just any corporate entity. Outside of the thousands of birds crapping in the water, one of the biggest polluters of Mission Bay is SeaWorld itself. Just earlier this year, SeaWorld was fined $6,000 for dumping excessive ammonia and animal waste into the Bay. (See Fox5 video here and “SeaWorld Cited for Exceeding Mission Bay Effluent Limits” in an article by Matt Potter, March 20, 2012 in the San Diego Reader.) SeaWorld is the largest discharger of water into the Bay and has been a known polluter of the body of water, as the bay has been on California’s list of impaired water bodies for several years as it does not meet the Clean Water Act standards. 

On Friday, pop icon Harry Styles sent shock waves & headlines around the globe by asking One Direction concert goers and his 25 million followers to just "Don't go to SeaWorld." 

Lastly, in a display of corporate arrogance, SeaWorld didn't bother to consult your Coastal Commission prior to making its plans known to the public. The CEO that made the announcement has since been let go. In short: 

Please deny SeaWorld the permissions it needs to expand the unethical & cruel practice of killer whale captivity for human amusement.  It's time to end the practice, not time to double-down on it.  California is a progressive state. We hope you'll take a progressive stance on this issue of killer whale habitat expansion at SeaWorld in San Diego. 

In addition to emailing The Commission, consider signing this petition from MoveOn:

Tell the CA Coastal Commission to say NO to SeaWorld!

Thank You, 

Carol Ray, John Jett, Jeffrey Ventre, Samantha Berg, aka Voice of the Orcas (VOTO)