“Meet amazing marine animals and jump into their world on sensational rides, attractions and shows at SeaWorld“
SeaWorld – a place that is surrounded by much controversy, you either love it and support it or you are very much against it and don’t support it.
SeaWorld was founded back in 1964 by Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott and George Millay. The four graduates of UCLA had originally set out to build an underwater restaurant and marine life show. When the underwater restaurant concept was deemed unfeasible, they scrapped those plans and decided to build a park instead – SeaWorld
It’s that time of year again when everyone is busy planning for their summer holidays, wondering where to go and what to do, I mean who doesn’t love planning a trip? Florida is of course a top holiday destination which appeals to big kids, family’s and couples of all ages. There definitely isn’t a shortage of things to do and see whilst in the sunshine state, and of course Florida is home to one very very famous mouse – Mickey.
Whilst most of us visit Florida for Disney World there are other famous parks that you can visit, including the one I’m going to talk about today – SeaWorld. If you haven’t checked out my first SeaWorld post, you can do so here ?? https://lifestylelisa.com/2017/03/10/seaworld-and-the-reason-i-will-never-visit-the-park-%EF%BB%BFagain-my-florida-adventures/
I along with my family have visited SeaWorld twice on 2 separate trips to Florida. I remember loving it, I was so excited and I loved seeing the Orcas and Dolphins up close, right there in front of me in their viewing tank. I mean how can you not be excited about that, especially when your a child, Seeing them so up close to me felt like an amazing experience. In fact I even wanted to be a Sea World trainer when I grew up!
Controversy of course hit SeaWorld big time in 2013 with the release of Blackfish and after watching it about 6 times I promised myself I would never visit the park again.
Looking back on it now I did what most normal human being would do and I watched the documentary and took everything I saw and took it at face value, how could everything that was being said and that I was watching not be true! I was watching some horrendous things on that documentary and I felt really sad.
I stuck to the promise of not visiting the park on my 2015, 2016 and 2017 trips. In fact it wasn’t even discussed before we went on holiday, as far as my family and I were concerned we would never visit SeaWorld again. And yes I probably did frown upon anyone who did visit or book tickets to go there.
So bringing it up to date, my recent Florida trip 2019 and for the first time in a very long time I really really wanted to visit SeaWorld! I wanted to see Killer Whales and Dolphins and turtles and Sea Lions up close! I even half wanted to swim with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove – something I am usually very very much against!!
This all come about because we had a brief conversation with a former Sea World employee, she was lovely and adored animals, I had a few questions for her which she honestly answered, and it really got me thinking, was I too harsh on SeaWorld, should I have done a bit of research instead of watching a documentary and taking all the accounts as the truth!
All I knew at the time was I felt like I really NEEDED to go to SeaWorld, I was MISSING out! It had been years since I was last there and the thought of coming face to face with an orca was just too exciting for me!
It was actually my boyfriend Luke who was the one who was flat out against the idea, and I couldn’t understand why! Slightly annoyed at him (only slightly though) but respecting his decision we didn’t go, but I felt gutted not be able to visit.
Having scheduled in a rest day whilst on the 2019 trip I decided to do a bit of my own research on the Blackfish documentary.
According to reports the film does have many flaws and a lot of inaccurate accounts surrounding it. And of course there are facts about SeaWorld that they just fail to mention!
Like for example the fact that SeaWorld does do a lot for sea-life conversation, they rehabilitate injured Manatees and Turtles and release them when possible back in to the wild. They no longer breed Orcas and haven’t captured a wild Orca since 1979, but due to government laws are unable to release Whales and Dolphins born in captivity back into the wild.
SeaWorld & Busch Gardens also have a Conservation Fund approved emergency crisis grant to help save wildlife impacted by massive Australian wildfires.
I can honestly say that I didn’t even once stop to think that they may actually be doing something good! I read all the bad press like everybody else did and made my mind up that SeaWorld was a diabolical place – but maybe I was too harsh.
HOWEVER as amazing as all this is, I came to the realisation that seeing a female Orca at 16-23 ft or a male Orca at 20-26 ft swimming around and around in a tank which is 170 foot and 34 feet deep isn’t acceptable. And it would be highly hypocritical me to think otherwise. I don’t believe SeaWorld deserves all the bad press it gets and I don’t believe it’s a bad place. But I personally cannot justify that it’s acceptable to keep these mammals of such size in conditions as they are.
Swimming with captive dolphins – While in on a roll I might as well keep going, the next thing I’m keen to talk about is swimming with captive dolphins….. A massive bug bare of mine is seeing photos of people swimming with dolphins! I know that most people have good intentions when they go on excursions or visit parks that allow you to swim with dolphins. But if they knew some of the truth behind the deceptive dolphin smile, I think they’d be horrified to know what they were actually supporting.
Swim with the dolphins” (SWTD) is a general term for a variety of dolphin-themed itineraries. Besides swimming with a dolphin (or two), you can be photographed with a dolphin, pulled through the water by a dolphin (the “dorsal tow”), smooched by a dolphin or pushed by the beak of a dolphin. You can even pay to be a dolphin “trainer,” complete with a whistle and training manual – pretty sure that’s a pricey one!
While interacting with captive dolphins at a marine park (and I’m keen to point out this is ANY marine park) may seem like fun the harsh reality is always kept hidden. Many people don’t realize that dolphins are living a stressful and often dramatically shortened life in captivity. Many have been captured and taken from their families in the wild and are now used for entertainment. These intelligent, social and wide-ranging creatures are forced to live in artificial, confined conditions, away from their natural family groups. Many die very young during capture, transport or in their tanks or enclosures. Dolphins continue to be taken from the wild to supply the growing demand for swimming with dolphins and dolphin encounters.
The methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be shockingly cruel and many animals die during capture operations or in transit. Also more often than not, the dolphins are captured from populations that are already under threat from other human activities.
When living in captivity, dolphins cannot escape from human swimmers when they do not want to interact with them. Interactions can also lead to heightened stress and anxiety.
I mean when you really strip back the layers, it’s pretty inhumane and kind of barbaric.
I travelled to Fort Myers back in 2016 and was lucky enough to take a boat trip out and see wild dolphins playing in the sea freely, it was worth so much more than watching them jump through hoops, and it didn’t cost nearly as much as a standard ticket would for a Marine Park.
I don’t consider myself to be a preachy girl, and I don’t take kindly to anyone who preaches to me. But I have eyes and I can see when something is wrong.
So I do ask that you really, really do your research before you visit a marine park and book your once in a lifetime experience of swimming with a dolphin. One photo opportunity for you means a lifetime of misery for them.