‘Blackfish’ Effect: SeaWorld Building Huge Tanks for Whales After Criticism, Financial Slide

The aquarium theme park chain will double size of its killer whale tank in San Diego, for starters

After a year and a half of persistent social criticism, an acclaimed documentary and a rough fiscal quarter, SeaWorld announced Friday it would undergo a massive effort to upgrade the facilities in which it holds animals captive.

The chain of aquatic parks’ CEO Jim Atchison presented plans for a 50-foot-tall, 10 million gallon tank for its killer whales in San Diego, part of an initiative dubbed the Blue World Project. The new tank, which will open in 2018, will also include stimulating new environments for the massive and majestic creatures, which have evolved to live in the open ocean.

Also read: ‘Blackfish’ Director on SeaWorld’s Sinking Share Price: It Could ‘Spur Meaningful, Massive Change’

One of the features of the new tank will be a moving current, which may allow the whale to have more of a feeling of freedom. As the hit documentary “Blackfish” depicted, however, SeaWorld’s whales tend to fall into depression during their captivity.

The big changes come after the company announced earnings of $0.43 a share, which fell far short of analysts’ expected $0.59 per share. Additionally, its revenues of $405.2 million fell well below Wall Street analysts’ expectations of $445 million.

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

As a result, the stock fell 33 percent on Wednesday.

“I don’t think SeaWorld speaks the language of ethics, of right and wrong. But they do speak ‘Revenue,’” Gabriela Cowperthwaite told TheWrap after the financial numbers came out. “This could spur meaningful, massive change on their part.”

Also read: ‘Blackfish’ Star John Hargrove Inks Book Deal With Macmillan Publishing (Exclusive)

The company also pledged $10 million for research on killer whales in the wild.