‘Blackfish’ Effect: SeaWorld Under Fire Again as CA Bill Proposes Ban on Whale Shows

'Blackfish' Effect: SeaWorld Under Fire Again as CA Bill Proposes Ban on Whale Shows

A Hollywood-area legislator is working to end shows featuring captive marine animals

The documentary “Blackfish” is proving to have a long tail.

The hit doc, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, then aired on CNN and later put up for live streaming on Netflix, detailed the circumstances surrounding the deaths of several whale trainers at SeaWorld, and the alleged abuses and neglect with which the parks treat its captive marine mammals. Despite the company's denial of the film's claims, Gabriela Cowperthwaite's doc has inspired several protests and national outrage, and now, it may lead to severe legal ramifications.

Also read: ‘Blackfish’ Star John Hargrove on SeaWorld's Bullying Tactics and PR Blunders, Documentary's Oscar Chances

Richard Bloom, the Assemblyman for California's 50th district, and the chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Transportation, has introduced a bill that would require organizations to cease the sort of orcas circus shows that are a staple of SeaWorld's business, and permit them only to keep killer whales captive for research, rescue, and rehabilitation purposes.

The bill would also forbid breeding in captivity, as well as ban the import and export of orcas. Over time, the organizations would be required to free their orcas into the wild or an open water sea pen. SeaWorld's San Diego park is currently the only location in California that uses whales for the shows that Bloom's bill would ban.

Alsor ead: CNN's ‘Blackfish’ Documentary Wins Key News Rating Demo, Grabs Young Viewers

“There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” the assemblyman said in a statement. “These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives.”

Also read: SeaWorld Taints Orlando Business Journal's ‘Blackfish’ Poll in Its Own Favor (Updated)

The outcry over “Blackfish” keyed protests over SeaWorld's float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and protestors from PETA were arrested for going after the company's float in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day. Several musicians, including country star Martina McBride, have canceled scheduled concerts at the park, as well.

Also read: REO Speedwagon Drummer on SeaWorld's ‘Blackfish’ Backlash: ‘I Don't Personally Like Big Animals Captive’ (Video)

Nonetheless, SeaWorld said in January that it had attained record attendance at its parks in 2013 and record profit in the third quarter. It is expected to announce its fourth quarter financials later this month, which should be a more telling figure, as the CNN airing of the documentary did not occur until November, while it went on Netflix in December.

Watch Bloom's press conference with the stars of “Blackfish” below:

  • Glenn Scott

    I cannot see a reason to keep animals penned up in cages so people can see them. There is this thing called the “intranetwebs”, and, using it, you can see and hear these animals.
    Keeping animals penned up, for no other reason than for entertainment reasons, is just…well…it's kind of disgusting.

    • Katie

      Many animals in captivity are there for species survival breeding, education, and profit for conservation. A large amount of zoos/aquariums(even seaworld) profit goes towards helping save species in the wild. But, I do not believe whales/dolphins should be in captivity, they are not an endangered animal and are far too intelligent to be in “circus like” performances

      • jeff

        Actually less than 1% of sea world money goes to conservation and reabilitation. do a little research before you speak

        • James

          guess what he is still right, they do it he didnt say a large percentage

    • alex

      Release them, Japanese whale hunters will appreciate that.

    • dolphilln

      Right… Full stop.

  • zoe

    Bravo to State Assembly member Richard Bloom… He is a Hero. …. And applause to Dr. Naomi Rose and Gabriela Cowperthwaite as well. It is about time somebody did SOMETHING Here's to hoping the bill becomes a law! This would be a huge positive step towards freedom for cetaceans. And hopefully snowballs to other states like FL & TX!!!

  • bona2vada

    “There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” … and dolphins, seals, walruses, lions, tigers, bulls, horses, elephants…That people still find animals performing tricks without realizing all that is wrong with it is beyond me.

  • Scooby

    While this is great news, I wish dolphins were included in this bill.

    • Chelsea

      It says “captive marine mammals”
      Maybe that does include the dolphins and sea lions.?

    • Abi

      Dolphins are whales. And it said captive marine mammals.

      • intrepidhart

        Dolphins aren't whales. Orca whales are in the dolphin family.

        • Abi

          They're all whales.

          • marinebiologist

            Dolphins are rarely referred to as “whales”. Dolphins, whales and porpoises all belong to order called cetaceans, if you want to call them by a common name.

    • Tord

      All whales, dolphins and seals are marine mammals.

    • Chrissy Pennington

      Technically speaking orcas are the largest dolphins in the sea, but I don't think the person that wrote this article knows that orcas are really dolphins….even though they're called “killer whales”.

  • Guest

    There are whales in Vallejo California as well used at Six Flags for shows, so California has two sites that it impacts.

  • ghhshirley

    Boycott SeaWorld and all Marine Parks that keep captive dolphins and orcas for entertainment.

  • alien99

    Hoorah!! I hope this to be the start of ending all animal circus's and animal torture.

  • alien99

    Boycott Seaworld and Circuses alike.

  • Al Sutherland

    This makes me so happy. Hope this will include Zoo's and all other caged animals very soon!!!

  • goots

    As much as I'd like to see whales that can be released you have to still know that almost 99% will seek out humans and a sea pen only needs one good storm to be destroyed.Think about good old Tillie swiming next to you.

  • Spence1000

    Forward-thinking and encourages further to an ultimate nationwide ban hopefully of whale “shows”.

  • Joe Stebbins

    If this much-needed and long-overdue yet proactive legislation is enacted, I WILL visit California again and encourage all of our friends to go there and spend as much money as possible. But I would not ever visit a place with captive dolphin, not in the 21st century!

  • Deb

    Set these creatures free! Dolphins too!

    • Ana

      So they can die with no survival skills…?

  • Alex Brown

    About time. SeaWorld is a for-profit, publicly traded entity and $$$ will always be it's first and only concern. But no reason why we should allow the orcas to suffer in a bath tub.

  • tnttracy

    It says proposes bill, not a law yet. Cross your fingers and toes and contact California legislators and let them know how you feel.

  • Jessica

    This is wonderful news!!

  • alex

    Japanese whaler$$$… Sure, they will appreciate friendly whales near their ships.

    • Amanda

      Killer whales are actually not whales. They are apart of the dolphin family. They get their name “killer whales” because well in the wild they are infamous for killing and eating whales. So they should be safe.

  • CrowdCoin.BIZ

    Can only count on California for a good laugh.

  • Jason Roundy

    Nanny state bull to single out one location or business in a state is wrong I live in san diego and seaworld contributes more to the ocean than it takes away and I watched black fish . And I dont see five disgruntled trainers and two or thee wacko scientists can possibly give a unbiased opinion if it were up to peta and the tree hugers we would all eat grass and not have pets or zoo for entertainment or education

    • TLLD23

      If I were Seaworld I would close my doors in CA and move to a state where my tourism draw is appreciated. I don't live in CA but I would assume there are other hot button issues that Richard
      Bloom could be focusing on.

      • CP3P

        are both of you people idiots?? how in any way possible could you think that SeaWorld has helped these animals? If you watched Blackfish and still believe that SeaWorld should stay open then you are heartless and have no respect for wildlife and other creatures that live on this Earth. Sea World is a money hungry organization that does not care about the animals or the trainers when there has been so much evidence against keeping the whales captive. Its people like you who are so ignorant and cause this type of cruelty in the world.

        • TLLD23

          I'm sorry but do you eat meat? That industry is all about the money, and those animals have feelings… Studies have shown the pigs are extremely smart and build bonds with other pigs and humans alike.. But wait they're food so it doesn't matter? Right? I am a vegetarian I haven't had a bite of meat in over 8 years so yea I consider myself an animal lover but you can not single out orcas due to size. seaworld does care for their animals regardless of the money they make off of them. It's hilarious that you people think they're going to treat their biggest money maker poorly all because of a one sided opinion peice and then the several articles of “research” that support that opinion. There is research to support the other side of this argument too. This debate is too convoluted with brainwashed people that watched a documentary and now think they are fully informed. I am not saying seaworld is god but they are under attack and have every freaking right to stand up for themselves, self promote and put out their own science to support their claims. Also others have a right to support seaworld and have a different opinion than yours. Yes I watched blackfish with an open mind. I studied film in college I'm very critical of every film I watch. I watch documentaries all the time, I suggest you watch valentine road, HBO documentary. Now compare these two documentaries and tell me if blackfish obtained both sides
          Of the story like valentine road did.. That's a real documentary…. Now back to seaworld It's insulting to the trainers that are with these whales currently that people who have no idea of day to day operations think they are cruel to these animals when they love them and care for then every day regardless of if it's Christmas or their birthday they pick these whales over their families all the time. Do you really believe they don't know the risk of working with a wild animal? No they know the risk and they don't care because they LOVE what they do and those animals. Now let everyone have an opinion even if it's not yours

  • amber

    What a lot of people are forgetting is most of these animals we're born in captivity they have no sense of survival in the wild nor can They follow the migratory patterns that their ancestors utilized the fact that they have been socialized with humans will not only put them at risk but also humans at risk they're going to want the social contact they are Custom too which is going to cause them to come closer to shore and boats and fall prey to those that want to harm them not to mention they have no survival skills in the wild and cannot be rehabilitated to live in the wild they lack the hunting skills as well as the predatory skills and the survival skills necessary to continue on living in the wild most animals on display were once injured and rehabilitated but were non releasable if we allow this to happen what's next are we going to release all Zoo animals back into the wild where they can survive people need to stop and think about what's being done before going on a soapbox over a movie yes it was a documentary done that reflects what SeaWorld did back in the 70's but since then sea world has done nothing but Educate and teach people how to save the sea life that is around them when is enough enough when are people going to stay out of professions that have nothing to do with them if you don't have the expertise don't try to make things the way you want them

    • CP3P

      So then why not send the to Seapens where they can carry out the rest of their days at least being in the ocean and hearing the natural rhythms that it makes. And then they can stop capturing and breeding animals and the cycle can be stopped. Does that not make sense to you? Would you rather they keep capturing these creatures and taking away their abilities to hunt and live out their natural lives?

  • MaStEr_MoLd

    I was NEVER a fan of Sea World for the reasons this documentary spells out. It was a heartbreaking film to watch and I hope the “amusement” park dies.

    • Sacred Biscuit

      Yeah, screw the hundreds of employees and their families! That's what food stamps are for! Same goes for all the hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses that would take a hit. Screw ‘em all! Screw capitalism! Occupy Mission Bay!


      • Sis

        What kind of fucked up logic is this? Let's keep up unethical practices and mistreat intelligent, emotional mammals so we can keep a few people employed? Hey let's put people on display like we used to, that kept people employed too. Someone think of the employees!

  • Kate

    It's a good thing killer whales are dolphins then….

  • Guest

    Watch “The Whale” and “KIller Whales” also on Netflix. It'll make you hate Seaworld just a bit more