In “One Ocean” the ocean is nowhere to be seen
A year after SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by the 6-ton captive orca, Tilikum, the corporation is getting ready to open a new killer-whale show at its three U.S. marine circuses.
The show, called One Ocean, is designed to promote the idea of conservation and our “interconnectedness with the whales,” explained Julie Scardina, SeaWorld Parks’ curator of animal training. Except that, ironically, there will be no connection between orca and human.
One Ocean will include messages that “revolve around the ocean, the environment, what people can do to make a difference,” Scardina told the Orlando Sentinel.
Orca protection groups contend that the best thing SeaWorld can do to “make a difference” is to stop keeping orcas in captivity. This would also be the best way to stop people from being killed by angry, stressed orcas.
Also missing from the show is any real connection with the ocean. Orcas in the wild travel thousands of miles in family groups. At marine circuses like SeaWorld, they live and die in small tanks that bear no relation to their natural environment.
No trainers will be in the water at the same time as the orcas. SeaWorld doesn’t want a repeat of what happened last February when Tilikum grabbed Brancheau from a pool deck and dragged her underwater to her death in front of a shocked audience of families with children.
Brancheau’s was not the first fatal attack and it will almost certainly not be the last. Just three months before her death another orca trainer was killed at a Canary Islands marine circus owned by SeaWorld.
Scardina said SeaWorld is also introducing new safety features as a result of an internal review that was launched as the circus scrambled to get ahead of a citation issued last year by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
SeaWorld was due in court today, February 14, to contest these government citations, but the hearing has been rescheduled until the end of April. Reports are that the judge will also be persuaded to hold the hearings in secret and to allow none of the testimony to be made public.