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“if you haven’t captured wild whales in 35 years, why are you trying to import 18 beluga whales from Russia?”

Update (9/1/2015):

Like Georgia Aquarium, SeaWorld is committed to the educational presentation of belugas and to working in partnership with all U.S. beluga holders to conserve this fascinating species. SeaWorld has not collected a whale or dolphin from the wild in decades and last year signed the Virgin Unite pledge indicating that we will not collect cetaceans from the wild. To reaffirm that commitment, SeaWorld has informed the Georgia Aquarium that we will not accept any of the belugas listed on their NOAA Fisheries import permit application. The Marine Mammal Protection Act supports the collection and importation of animals for public display in accredited zoological facilities, and SeaWorld’s decision on this matter does not in any way reflect judgment on those facilities leading or participating in this beluga whale conservation effort. Rather, it reflects an evolution in SeaWorld’s position since this project began more than eight years ago.

Click here for our previous statement.

“If you didn’t want Keiko to be released then why didn’t you buy him when Reino Aventura wanted to sell him to you?”

We provided medical and water quality equipment to improve Keiko’s condition when he was in Mexico, and provided the support of our veterinary, husbandry and animal training teams. However, the ultimate decisions about Keiko’s future were made by his owners at the time. Read more about Keiko’s story in Mark Simmons’ book.

“sad to see delay in voting for the blue world project. Are y’all optimistic about it passing?”

SeaWorld was informed by the California Coastal Commission staff that our Blue World Project will be placed on the agenda for its October meeting. Highly respected zoological professionals, animal welfare organizations, veterinarians and researchers have acknowledged that Blue World is a continuing evolution of the park’s killer whale habitat that enhances enrichment for the whales and allows for a broad range of behaviors. It will also provide for greater research opportunities, and inspires and educates visitors by increasing their understanding of these incredible animals.

“The proposed Blue World project will provide not only an expanded habitat for whales, but also new opportunities for researchers to conduct studies that will benefit killer whales and other cetaceans in the wild,” said Dr. Paul J. Ponganis, research physiologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “In addition, a dynamic animal environment like Blue World may inspire a host of future marine biologists, veterinarians and other scientists.”

SeaWorld is looking forward to presenting our Blue World Project to the Coastal Commission in a few months.

“what is your aim with the orcas? Is it a breeding program? Or. Please respond”

We believe that there is no substitute for the inspiration that comes with seeing animals up close. SeaWorld is one of the only places where people can truly experience the magnificence of killer whales in this way. Our guests recognize that the animals they see at SeaWorld are in many ways ambassadors for an increasingly fragile and imperiled wild environment. We recognize what a privilege it is to be able to present these amazing animals to our guests and the world. Our mission is for our guests to experience something that makes them more aware, more in awe, more respectful and to go home more motivated to take action than when they arrived. We embrace a very simple philosophy: You will love and protect only what you understand.

In addition to inspiring our guests, researchers have a unique chance to study killer whales in ways that would be impossible in the wild. Watch this to get a glimpse of some of the research happening at SeaWorld that will benefit wild whales:

The original plan for this park was authored in the early 1960s when SeaWorld was no more than a spark of an idea. It hadn’t even been named yet – just “Marine Park.” The plan included a statement of purpose that is as valid today as it was then: SeaWorld will “open a new dimension in human knowledge and understanding of the undersea world and its inhabitants.” We’re proud of our history of education and inspiration, and our work to advance the scientific understanding of killer whales and other marine animals.

“Can someone have asthma be chosen to work at Seaworld? Also, what classes are recommended to take in Highschool and in College? I was thinking a trainer or one to participates in the shows, feeding the animals and more!”

Thank you for your question and your interest in the zoological field at SeaWorld. Having a medical condition like asthma will not prevent you from applying and being considered for a zoological position at SeaWorld; however, some positions at SeaWorld do require that you have a scuba diving certification. For more information on diving and asthma, I would recommend that you refer to the Divers Alert Network or consult with your own doctor.

To learn more about what it takes to be an animal trainer, click here.

Watch this video to see how this trainer became a killer whale trainer:

“How can someone become an animal ambassador @SeaWorld?”

The following is from SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina.

“The people who help spread messages of conservation, rescue and care for animals are all part of our SeaWorld and Busch Gardens animal ambassador team. This team is responsible for caring for the animals, as well as for educational presentation with our park guests, visiting schools, TV studios, hospitals and other events. To become an animal ambassador yourself, you should have a caring, compassionate nature, experience working with a variety of animals using positive reinforcement training and desensitization techniques, enjoy educating both kids and adults, and have an outgoing personality.

It is imperative that we communicate and support current conservation efforts and inspire future generations of scientists, conservationists, veterinarians and all who use their knowledge and skill to aid wildlife and wild places. To become part of this team is a wonderful goal!”

Watch this to learn more about our animal ambassadors:

“I want to help the killer whales and dolphins. What can I do?”

Here is a short list of things you can do to help all cetacean species, including killer whales and dolphins:

1) Stay informed and purchase sustainably sourced seafood. Overfishing and destructive fishing techniques can harm whales and dolphins since these animals rely on prey populations that humans also harvest.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium maintains an excellent series of resource guides for responsible seafood consumption. Click here to learn more.

2) Properly dispose of waste – particularly plastic waste – in your backyard, neighborhood, place of business, and fishing areas. Help clean up waste around watersheds, streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, coastlines, and the ocean. Trash ingestion or entanglement can lead to injury or death for sea life. Making certain that a plastic bag or a length of fishing line doesn’t make its way into the ocean can, quite literally, save the life of a dolphin, turtle, pelican, manatee, sea lion or many other marine species.

3) Make sure to dispose of chemical substances properly. Remember, “All drains lead to the ocean.” While man-made disasters like oil spills can have an immediate and often lethal impact on whales and dolphin species, exposure to small amounts of pollutants over time can be just as dangerous. In whales and dolphins, toxic bioaccumulation can lead to an array of health problems.

“In google maps, if you look at Shamu Stadium San Antonio you can see one of the males in the medical pool. Gates closed, with no trainers around. Why is this?”

It’s difficult to say because we don’t know when the Google photo was taken, but the whale may have been in that pool for veterinary treatment or husbandry behaviors. All of our killer whales are trained to be comfortable spending time in the medical pools at each park.We need to make sure that the whales are acclimated and relaxed in the med pool for their well-being and the safety of our team members.While we refer to these areas as medical pools, the majority of sessions in that pool are fun and engaging to reinforce the animals’ interactions there. This ensures the animals are at ease during any veterinary procedure that may be needed at any time.

It’s important to note that someone from our staff monitors the killer whales 24 hours a day. SeaWorld staff often observes from inside the buildings or covered areas that can be seen at the edges of these pools.

“Does sea world still have shows with killer whales & trainers?”

Yes, we have “One Ocean,” at Shamu Stadium that features trainers and killer whales working together in a high energy show designed to inspire guests to connect with the sea, and make a difference in the world. Guests can get even closer to killer whales and their trainers at “Dine with Shamu,” a behind-the-scenes dining experience. SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio also offer the “Killer Whales Up Close” show, where our training and education staff share more information about these amazing animals and how they care for our killer whale family.

Trainers do not participate in the water during shows. However, we do have in-water interaction with whales as part of our safety desensitization program. Those interactions only occur in pools with lifting floors and not during show performances.

“I have a question, how did your San Diego location accidentally hatch 50 male green sea turtles?”

The turtles hatched in 2009 at the Shipwreck Rapids sea turtle habitat. The habitat was specifically designed to provide optimal swimming for the turtles as well as a sand beach. The sand beach was designed to be shallow enough as to not encourage the turtles to lay eggs. Even with the shallow sand beach the turtles were able to lay eggs and in combination with very hot weather provided the condition for eggs to incubate and hatch. This very unusual event did provide us with the opportunity to collect data and conduct research on these endangered species that will help answer important biological questions that can’t be obtained in the wild. The data was used by the National Marine Fisheries Service for their research projects that compared our hatchling growth rates with wild sea turtles. Click here for more information about NMFS work with green sea turtles.

“where’s the evidence that Morgan was orphaned? I know she was a stranding case but you claim she was orphaned with no proof?”

When Morgan stranded in Holland, she was alone. No other killer whales were seen in the vicinity. Without the direct intervention of the marine animal care experts at Dolfinarium, she would almost certainly have died. Malnourished and weak, Morgan was without the support of a pod and destined to perish without assistance. European news outlets covered Morgan’s rescue in 2010 here and here.

Scientists studying Morgan have determined that she is deaf, which may have contributed to her stranding. She is doing very well living with the other killer whales in her social group at Loro Parque. Learn more here.

“How Is Corky Doing!!?!”

Corky is doing well and we recently devoted an entire month to celebrate the millions of lives she’s touched. She’s currently helping scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego with important research on killer whale heart rates.

This work will not only benefit veterinarians’ diagnostic efforts, but may be essential to improving cardiac monitoring of free-ranging whales and understanding diving physiology.

Watch Dr. Paul Ponganis give more details on this research taking place at SeaWorld San Diego:

Click here to read more.

“doesnt your “three second neutral response” qualify as punishment?”

No. A three-second response, also called a Least Reinforcing Scenario (LRS), is a well-established part of our positive reinforcement technique for training a variety of animals. LRS is an accepted behavioral training method among various animal training communities. The techniques used at SeaWorld are detailed in a great book by Ken Blanchard and SeaWorld trainers Chuck Tompkins and Thad Lacinak called “Whale Done.