SeaWorld has decided not to appeal several citations from OSHA that it received after the 2010 drowning of a trainer who was swimming with a killer whale. The Associated Press reports that, as a result, SeaWorld trainers will not be able to swim with killer whales during shows in the future, which could help to remove some criticism from the park. SeaWorld's initial appeal of the citations was rejected back in April, and it's been keeping trainers out of the water since before then because of OSHA.
SeaWorld is also making larger tanks for the whales
SeaWorld has been receiving a good deal of negative attention thanks to the documentary Blackfish, which highlights the drowning and rose to popularity after its release through TV screenings and streaming services like Netflix. Stock and business have been down for SeaWorld, and today's decision to drop its appeal is a conclusion that impassioned viewers of the film should be happy with.
For SeaWorld, however, it's certainly a concession. While better complying with safety requirements will help to please its critics, it's a small step and one that could end up hurting the appeal of the park's shows — a further detriment to its business. The park also plans to build larger tanks for whales though, which should also be of help to its image. The AP reports that trainers will still be able to swim with the killer whales during training exercises.
In a filing with the SEC, SeaWorld notes that its trainer's death has made it subject to "significant media attention" that may be harming its reputation and attendance. That surely seems to be the case, and that SeaWorld is now acknowledging that it needs to make changes if it wants to work off the reputation that Blackfish gave it.
This headline has been updated to clarify that SeaWorld trainers will not be able to swim with killer whales in the future, and that SeaWorld had previously stopped the practice during its appeal.