By Duane Paul Murphy
On October 8th, 2015, the California Costal Commission, a state agency that deals with with quasi-judicial regulatory oversight over land use and public access along the state’s coastal zones, banned SeaWorld San Diego from breeding orca whales in captivity and approved $100 million project to expand the orca tanks at the San Diego park in order to enhance their time in captivity as well as to improve research opportunities for the park’s scientists or caretakers.
After the ban on captivity breeding, SeaWorld Entertainment, the company that owns SeaWorld San Diego, plans to file a lawsuit against the state agency because they believe the restriction on the expansion projects are “overreaching” and that the federal government has legal authority to impose conditions on marine mammals in captivity rather than the state.
This recent ban and upcoming lawsuit reflects the concerns of animal rights groups about captive marine mammals in the wake of the documentary, Blackfish, which exposes the controversial captivity methods used by SeaWorld towards their orca whales as well as its incidents involving the orca whales attacking the park’s very own trainers.
The film also focuses on Tilikum, a 33 year-old male killer whale who killed three people including a SeaWorld Orlando trainer named Dawn Brancheau back in 2010. Tilikum still resides in SeaWorld Orlando and is the father of 21 offspring born in captivity in which only 11 of them are still alive today. Since the film’s release and broadcast on CNN, park attendance and stock revenue has been drastically declining.