By Stephanie Para |Staff Writer|
The film “Blackfish” has inspired a bill that could have students rethink their trips to Sea World this summer.
Assemblyman Richard Bloom first introduced the “Orca” bill, AB-2140, in March.
The bill if passed would end any performance and entertainment use of Orca Whales.
Orcas now in captivity would then either undergo rehabilitation, or if an Orca cannot be rehabilitated, or be removed from current enclosures to a larger “sea pen.”
The pen would then be anchored to the sea floor and attached to the shoreline, according to the bill’s summary on the California legislature website.
Failure to meet these terms will result in a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 6 months or less in jail.
Sea World issued a statement in response to this bill.
“The premise behind this proposed legislation is severely flawed on multiple levels, and its validity is highly questionable under the United States and California Constitutions,” according to NBCSanDiego.com.
Sea World has launched a webpage in rebuttal to the controversial “Blackfish” film, which presented the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that was involved in multiple incidents where human trainers died.
Statements and video clips that refute the “Blackfish” documentary are also found on this site.
CSUSB Geology Professor Britt Leatham believes that this bill is discriminatory and unfair.
“If they are going to separate the whales, what about other dangerous animals, like the Porpoise. Other issues need to be included [in the bill] as well,” said Leatham.
Environmental Science Major, Rusty Nzekwu, believes places like Sea World are beneficial for people to observe animals that they, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to.
“I think most people go to see the whales [at Sea World]. It’s one of their trademarks. It only makes sense that it will affect their profits,” said Nzekwu.
According to CSUSB Biology assistant professor, Dr. Angela Horner, many of these whales probably will not be able to be rehabilitated.
She compared the situation to placing a child that has been raised in the United States in Sub-Saharan Africa, a completely different environment and social setting, and expecting them to know how to survive.
“[Placement in] sea pens may be the only option,” said Horner, if the bill is passed next year.
Horner believes that if the bill is passed, Sea World, as a large organization will have to adapt to the change.
“I hope they [Sea World] don’t fight it. It is [a] different time and we have learned a lot more about these whales, their life span, social behavior and physiology. Now is the time to move forward, they can still make a profit, in a less ethically impactful way,” said Horner.