Fourth of July is over and so are the fireworks, except in SeaWorld parks. SeaWorld’s Summer nights event runs through mid-August.
SeaWorld Orlando has incorporated the fireworks into their Shamu Rocks show, firing them off right behind Shamu Stadium while music is blaring and the whales are performing. This looks to me like an accident waiting to happen.
(Skip to minute 19 for the fireworks display)
So, how do these fireworks effect the whales and dolphins at SeaWorld?Although no official studies have been done, probably because SeaWorld already knows the results wouldn’t be favorable, it is painfully obvious that fireworks have a negative effect.
In a recent study of military sonar’s effects on whales, Damian Carrington reports that when a simulated military sonar signal was sounded at 200bB and between 3km and 10km away, Cuvier’s beaked whales initially stopped feeding and swimming. Then they swam rapidly away from the noise and some performed unusually deep and long dives. They stopped feeding for 6-7 hours.
In a second study, it was estimated that after being spooked by the sonar, a blue whale missed out on about a ton of krill, or a day’s food.
According to the American Academy of Audiology, fireworks are at 140 dB. They also report that concerts of any musical genre is 110dB.
The chart explains that for humans 140 dB is painful and dangerous. Music at 110 dB is considered dangerous if endured over 30 minutes. Yet, SeaWorld has the whales performing in the midst of both.
To make the comparison of the decibels of sonar at the distance tested to the decibel level of fireworks, an economics major and math genius friend of mine followed the formula.
200 dB at 3km or 9,842 ft (military sonar done in tests) would be equal to
140 dB of fireworks at 6889 ft, or over a mile.
Note that even at this distance, the whales mentioned above went without eating in the wild, and it is noted that many strand. Although SeaWorld whales don’t go without eating (although if you watch the show, one swims around with her mouth open obviously hungry until she performs for reward),the loud noise (and vibrations) of the fireworks and music blaring would most likely have a negative effect. In the wild, whale reaction was to flee. At SeaWorld, there is nowhere for them to go.
Another thing to consider is that the debris from the fireworks has to land somewhere. It likely falls into the tanks, potentially to be eaten and cause injury or illness to the whales.
The whales (and dolphins at the park as well) endure these fireworks and rock concert-type noises on a nightly basis during Summer Nights, which runs every night between June 22 and August 11 in Orlando, almost 3 months of nightly torture. SeaWorld parks in San Diego and San Antonio have similar shows and events.
What must that feel like? It can’t be pleasant or comfortable. It seems to me that it’s only a matter of time before some type of accident happens. I foresee the possibility of a whale being confused and leaping out of the tank, or miscalculating a slide-out and taking out a trainer.
Once again, SeaWorld “education” seems to lack not only the educational value but common sense as well. Putting whales and trainers in danger “for the sake of the show” appears to be the mantra to live by at SeaWorld parks.