This really has not been a great summer for SeaWorld or their sea creatures. For SeaWorld, because the highly publicized (and recommended, by us) documentary Blackfish has renewed protests against the park, by spotlighting anti-captivity efforts and the potential dangers of training whales for entertainment.
For the sea creatures, because living at SeaWorld means occasionally getting stranded outside of your pool, with trainers refusing to help you for nearly half an hour. Such is the latest claim lobbied against SeaWorld after video of a stranded pilot whale went viral.
(WARNING: This video contains a brief moment of explicit language.)
Carlo De Leonibus, who visited the Orlando park with his wife and 11-year-old daughter, filmed the video after witnessing the young pilot whale (a member of the dolphin family) struggle for 10 minutes and reporting the issue to an employee.
De Leonibus explains, "After about 10 minutes, I realized it was in distress. I felt very concerned, so I went down and told one of the employees, who just dismally responded and said, 'It's having fun, it's playing.' He didn't even bother to look at the whale."
"I went back to the bleachers and began recording. What I saw, changed my view of SeaWorld [forever]. The crowd becomes furious, yelling to save the dolphin," Carlo explains on YouTube. "After an additional 10-15 minutes after my recording they sent two dolphin trainers in to push the dolphin back in."
"Ladies and gentlemen, I do understand that you can see some whales sliding up over on our other pool," a SeaWorld employee can be heard saying in the video. "They can get back in the pool. They do slide up on their own and they will. We do monitor them from the back."
After the video went viral, a SeaWorld rep backed that sentiment with the following statement (via The Huffington Post): "The younger and more inexperienced animals...sometimes take a little longer to find their way back to the water because they haven't completely mastered the technique yet. When this happens the animal is constantly monitored by our animal trainers."
"The whale was never in danger. In fact, the pilot whales are trained to swim onto the ledge so we can monitor their growth and give them veterinary care," the statement continues, with another rep telling Take Part that this pilot whale had been rescued after beaching itself in Florida and then was "deemed unreleasable by the federal government and became a part of our collection."
After nearly 30 minutes, trainers eventually did intervene and returned the whale to the pool. While the whale appears to ultimately be fine, it wasn't a happy ending for everyone, as Carlo De Leonibus reveals his daughter's reaction to the ordeal: "She felt that SeaWorld was going to take care of their animals."