Featured Image Credit: SeaWorld Facebook
Recently, Aeon wrote a great article about all the amazing work SeaWorld does, obviously noting rescue and rehabilitation but also emphasizing the marine conservation effort SeaWorld makes around the world. Their main point: if you care about marine conservation, it’s time to stop boycotting SeaWorld.
While many people know about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld’s orca breeding program, not many people know why the organization is so vital to marine conservation. After SeaWorld changed the way they handle the breeding and performance aspects of their cetacean program, eco-conscious consumers haven’t all come back around to visiting. It’s time for that to change.
The article states: “The controversy surrounding Blackfish has driven environmentally conscious consumers away from one of the most active contributors to marine conservation research in the United States.”
SeaWorld serves as a great place for animal rescue and rehabilitation. Their facilities are often the only ones big enough for large marine animals to be rehabilitated and released. SeaWorld San Diego is one of the only institutions that has rehabbed and released a gray whale calf, which they did in 1997. The Orlando facility is one of only three places in Florida that can house and rehabilitate stranded manatees. Overall, SeaWorld Orlando has more than 31,000 rescues and SeaWorld San Diego rehabilitates an average of 100-200 animals a year.
All SeaWorld facilities (Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego) are accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, known as the AZA. The AZA has strict standards to get accreditation including the requirement that a large amount of their operating budget must be given to scientific and conservation initiatives.
The article also talks about the importance of SeaWorld’s programs and partnerships. Through the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, SeaWorld has been funding conservation and science for a long time. One of the most recent groups to get funding from the fund is Rising Tide Conservation, which works to increase the number of aquaculture species. Some of their initiatives have been closing the cycle on yellow tang at the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University. Also, the University of Florida’s Aquaculture Laboratory has cultured the blue tang (like Dory in Finding Nemo). They have also partnered with the Everglades Foundation and famous marine artist and conservationist, Guy Harvey.
Another way SeaWorld contributes funding to conservation and research is through the Hubbs – SeaWorld Research Institute, or the HSWRI. The HSWRI has been operating since 1963 and has grown over the last 50+ years. The HSWRI partners with aquatic institutions around the world to study marine life. SeaWorld both funds this research and provides facilities for it.
As a company, SeaWorld relies on cutting-edge marine science to keep its programs going and its animals healthy and happy. So it’s in their best interest morally and economically to do the right thing. And without places like SeaWorld, there would be a lot less marine research and conservation. So it’s time to stop boycotting SeaWorld and start visiting again.
Learn more from our source.