Image Shows How Little Space Captive Orcas Really Have

On August 2, Facebook user Andrew Lawes shared a photo that illustrates how cramped and isolated an animal’s life at SeaWorld really is.

The image is an aerial shot that was taken above SeaWorld in San Diego, California. But that’s not why the photo went viral. In it, the viewer’s attention is pulled toward a thick-lined red blob that encircles SeaWorld’s parking lot. There’s another small green line to the right of the lot. Two white arrows point toward the parking lot and the green line.

Lawes explained the photo in the following caption, which also referred to Cecil the lion’s recent death:

“Lot of talk about animal rights this week, thought I’d share this from twitter. The red line is the size of the Sea World car park. The green line is where the Orcas spend their entire lives. Shocking really.”

The size comparison isn’t the only shocking aspect of the photo, however. The viewer can also see that a third of the parking lot is completely empty. Space that could be used for the animals housed at the theme park.

The alarming photo quickly went viral, with 55,152 likes, 9,563 comments and 87,218 shares at the time of this writing.

“There is a lot of water behind SeaWorld,” commented Facebook user Lee Odorizzi, noting the coastline behind SeaWorld San Diego’s property and alluding to how close the animals really are to their natural habitats.

The photo also circulated on Twitter, too, when animal activists took advantage SeaWorld’s disastrous #AskSeaWorld campaign. Many people used the hashtag to ask why SeaWorld’s parking lots are bigger than its orca tanks.

The photo went viral right around the time news outlets reported that SeaWorld’s net income plunged 84 percent from April to June. The recent dip isn’t surprising, either. SeaWorld has struggled with attendance and financials since the 2013 release of “Blackfish.” The documentary focuses on the ill-fit environment SeaWorld provides to its orcas and digs deep into past trainer deaths and the root of them, specifically the three trainers killed by Tillikum, an orca who has been held captive at SeaWorld for 32 or his 34 years alive.

SeaWorld responded to the 84 percent loss by issuing a statement. In it, the company released data for its operations costs, financials and unaudited balance sheet data. The company blamed “the timing of Easter, record levels of rainfall in Texas and continued brand challenges in California” for the low attendance levels.

But this data isn’t that surprising for those who have followed SeaWorld’s steady downfall since Blackfish’s release two years ago. SeaWorld shares have fallen 37 percent in the past year. In December 2014, The Washington Post reported that SeaWorld stock price has dropped 60 percent since Blackfish’s release. Around that time, SeaWorld Entertainment’s chief executive Jim Atchison resigned after the company’s revenue fell by more than seven percent in 2014’s first nine months.

SeaWorld is showing desperate attempts at making a comeback. On August 13, the company announced it is pledging $1.5 million toward sea life conservation.

Photo Credit: AndrewLawes


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

I am really late to the party Suzanne P! I am a month behind on Care2 and this is the first time I have seen the pic. It is disgusting and proves greed is the foremost driver of the seaworld train.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Manuela C.
Manuela C2 years ago

Close that dump!

Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thank you

Maxine S.
Maxine Sheehan2 years ago

I think these aquariums that have made their millions through animal slavery, and cruelty need to be closed ASAP.

Katie K.
Katie K2 years ago

This upsets me to my very soul. Shut down these prisons we stupid humans use for our ridiculous amusement. How can this be be?

Berny p.
berny p2 years ago

this is actually a brilliant way to show people what is going on. It also shows that one person really can make a difference.
A little ingenuity and thinking outside the box goes along way.

Great job, Andrew!

Fred L.
Fred L2 years ago

No to zoos, marine parks and circuses. Yes to sanctuaries. The love of money is the root of all evil~~Timothy 6:10

Mary M.
Mary M2 years ago

We can say Seaworld is about education it is just mammal slavery for the entertainment of humans...disgusting.
I don't even like see eye dogs strapped to harnesses and not being allow to be DOGS