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.