Seaworld announced today that it will be expanding Shamu’s enclosure in all 3 parks. Also in the announcement, Seaworld has also announced a 10 million dollar matching fund to help with Orca research in the wild as well as a multi-million dollar partnership to focus on the health of the ocean, which is beneficial to all marine animals in the wild! So with this announcement, what does that mean for Seaworld, the guests, and of course the animals?
The new expansion will be called the Blue Project due to the size and complexity of the new exhibit. The new home for Shamu will double the size of the current enclosures, bringing the total water volume to 10 million gallons. The planned depth will be 50 feet with a total surface area of 1.5 acres, and will allow guests to see the whales from the top of the water, underwater, as well as allowing a bird’s eye view of these majestic animals. The coolest part of this new project? A 40 foot underwater window to allow guests to experience the whales like they were underwater with them. This window will be the largest underwater window for viewing Orca whales in the world!
This new exhibit will be build in San Diego first, and will be open to the public in 2018. After San Diego is open, construction will be started here in Orlando as well as in San Antonio.
Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. stated “Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,” said Atchison. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above.”
As part of the Blue World Project, SeaWorld has committed $10 million in matching funds focused on threats to killer whales in the wild, especially those identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. That includes new projects already funded this year: one that will help to understand the hearing ranges of killer whales and the other that will provide insight into nutritional status and reproduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale. The matching funds will be in addition to killer whale research conducted by SeaWorld’s scientists, which includes nearly 50 studies to date.
Recognizing that ocean health is a leading concern for killer whales and all marine mammals in the wild, the company also announced it will be embarking on a major multi-million dollar partnership focused on protecting the ocean. More details of the partnership will be announced in the coming weeks.
We are extremely excited at the news of the enclosure expansion project. I cannot wait for the time that we can experience these amazing animals, while getting a better appreciation for these animals through research and education! What do you think of the news? Comment below and let us know!