Earlier this year, the documentary expose Blackfish made the case against keeping killer whales in captivity and having them perform watery circus acts for gawking rubes against a backdrop of upbeat music and meaningless narration about having respect for the natural world. A significant part of the case was the claim that, although there are no records of a killer whale ever attacking a human in the wild, a single Sea World orca - Tilikum - is responsible for the deaths of three people, one of them an experienced trainer at the park.
"The ironic part is, it was Blackfish that gave us our great new idea for a show," says Sea World San Diego Director of Whaletime Fun Walt Blubber. "There's this one scene where they're trying to make the case for orcas as intelligent, communal animals. There's this a seal on an ice floe, and these five killer whales are trying to get at it. Eventually, three of the whales swim side by side at the floe just below the surface, and their combined force creates a wave that washes the seal into the water."
"Pretty cool, right?" continues Blubber. "Such power, such grace - and in perfect unison! We couldn't ever train them to work in such gorgeous synchronicity. When I saw that, I thought, 'I could watch that all day.' And then it hit me: I could watch that all day right here, and so could my customers. The one thing we don't have trouble breeding in captivity is seals. We've got a serious abundance of those flippery critters. And we've been making artificial ice floes ever since we opened our penguin exhibit in 2006. We decided to let orcas be orcas, and to let our valued guests enjoy nature in action. That's what the fish-huggers want, right? Natural habitats and behaviors? From now on, Shamu the Killer Whale is going to do just that: kill."