Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld, hinted last November that the whales would still be performing, saying that the new shows "will be focused on ... the natural behavior of the whales."
But while that might give visitors a new experience, it doesn't change much for the orcas. They will still be expected to perform tricks on command - even if SeaWorld will be packaging them as "natural behaviors."
The move is especially poignant considering the recent death of Tilikum, SeaWorld's most famous orca and the focus of "Blackfish," who passed away on Friday. Tilikum was captured as a 2-year-old calf from his family in Iceland in 1983, and spent 33 years in a tank.
He exhibited many distressing behaviors over the years, including floating for hours on end - though orcas are never motionless in the wild - and destroying his own teeth by chewing on his tank out of frustration. He was also responsible for the death of three people, including two of his trainers in 1991 and 2010, though there has never been a recorded incident of a wild orca killing a human.