It's no secret that SeaWorld's fireworks give off harmful pollutants into Mission Bay, harming the rare wildlife that lives there. But what about the animals in the tanks?
This week, a local CBS news station recorded the fireworks at the San Diego park from a spot 20 miles away, complete with sound. The station checked with the park, confirming that SeaWorld had hired a new vendor for their fireworks show this year, who may be using more explosives. SeaWorld has 79 shows scheduled for this year.
Many have expressed concern that the explosions may be hurting the animals living at the park, many of whom, like whales, are known for their sensitive hearing. Could fireworks hurt the animals?
According to Dr. Darlene Ketten, a whale expert and neuroethologist who studies how behavior is linked to anatomy, the answer is complicated. There are lots of variables here -- where the fireworks are set off, whether they are attached to the ground, and whether the animals have their heads above or below the water.
"Sound does not propagate well from air into water and vice versa," Ketten told The Dodo, explaining that the sound will be much louder if the animal's ears are above water, like if they are in the air or close to the launch spot. Luckily, echolocation is a high-frequency noise that fireworks likely won't interfere with.
"The real hazard auditorily is that fireworks produce impulse noise and that -- if you are close enough -- is more of a hazard than slow rise time noises," she said.
Marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute agreed, saying that the real damage happens when animals, specifically orcas, lift their heads out of the water, waiting for fish or simply looking around.
"They will be exposed intermittently to the noise and it no doubt can be as terrifying to some orcas as it is to dogs," she said. "It may be irritating, even if they are not afraid. It is loud, constant for as long as the fireworks show goes on, and they can't avoid it."
Activists have noted that this is another result of captivity that harms whales. Said Candace Crespi of the Oceanic Preservation Society:
"Imagine how awful it would be to be blasted with booming vibrations night after night without the option to swim away. Has SeaWorld even considered the consequences of fireworks debris falling into a tank?"
You can find a petition calling on the San Diego City Council to cancel the fireworks shows at SeaWorld here.
SeaWorld and marine parks profit off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity -- despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers. Join us in pledging never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks until they empty their orca tanks.
[rebelmouse-campaign #BoycottSeaWorld target=1000 increment=500 twitter_share_message="Join me and pledge never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks #BoycottSeaWorld" call="**Sign this petition** or share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with **#BoycottSeaWorld**" theme=dodo]