SeaWorld thinks it has this one in the tank.
Yesterday, a California Coastal Commission (CCC) report recommended approval of the aquarium's Blue Ocean Project, with some rather silly stipulations.
The tank won't house orcas taken from the wild after Feb. 12, 2014 -- nor can SeaWorld use any genetic material from any orcas taken after Feb. 12, 2014. The exception is rescued orcas, approved by one or more government agencies for rehabilitation.
We can leave SeaWorld's history with orca rehabilitation aside for now, because that would turn silly into ridiculous. Essentially, the CCC's stipulation only currently applies to one orca held in captivity ANYWHERE in the world -- Juliette, one of the Russian orcas (believed captured July 2014) currently held at the new Moscow Aquarium in Russia.
The reasoning given by the CCC for this stipulation is to protect the orcas swimming off the coast of California from capture. Is it enough for me to say that even pro-captivity supporters found this ridiculous? As Tim Zimmermann reported in Outside Magazine:
And they have been over for a long time in the USA.
Here's the thing.
The CCC has already admitted that the level of interest in this issue is unprecedented in their entire history. According to West California News:
It is battling further safety violations, this time from Cal/OSHA.
Despite new campaigns and in spite of millions pumped into its PR machine, SeaWorld is still struggling.
Public aversion to large marine mammal captivity continues to grow. Far surpassing the corporation's ability for damage control. The CCC is likely to discover how much aversion there is when they vote to approve or deny the permit on Oct. 8th in Long Beach, CA.
In the meantime, SeaWorld can build and build and build and build, but not even they can force the public through the gates.
Read an Open Letter to the California Coastal Commission from Voice of the Orcas.