And the experts we consulted say that captive orcas at SeaWorld are not unaffected by the surroundings they're forced to consider home. Dr. Darlene Ketten, a whale expert and neuroethologist who studies how behavior is linked to anatomy, said that real hazards can come from the impulse noise that firework explosions produce. And marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute added that SeaWorld orcas "will be exposed intermittently to the noise and it no doubt can be as terrifying to some orcas as it is to dogs ... and they can't avoid it."
This wouldn't be an issue if SeaWorld really cared more about its orcas than it cared about continuing a way of life that exploits wild animals for profit. SeaWorld says it is "confident the sounds in our environment are not detrimental to the animal's wellbeing." And when you're in the habit of telling bold-faced lies, confidence is key.
Update: Since we published this article a reader who lives near SeaWorld San Diego wrote in. We decided to include her perspective: "I live ten miles from SeaWorld San Diego. The have nightly fireworks shows during the summer, which freaks my dogs out every night, even this far away. I can't imagine what it's like for the animals in residence at the park. SeaWorld won't even acknowledge what the debris from the fireworks does to our bay and the animals, fish and birds they profess to care so much about."