Vacationers Vote With Their Feet on SeaWorld Controversy

The post-‘Blackfish’ fallout continues for the world’s largest chain of marine parks.

A killer whale performing at SeaWorld San Diego in 2013. (Photo: Princess Koko/Flickr)

Feb 26, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

SeaWorld’s bottom line sagged a little bit further this past quarter.

It’s just the latest bad news for SeaWorld, which has delivered a number of rocky financial reports in the past 18 months.

According to the company’s latest earnings report, released Thursday, its 11 parks saw a 2.2 percent drop in attendance and a $25 million loss in revenue in the past quarter. While that’s not as bad as the prior quarter’s 5.2 percent attendance drop, the company’s earning reports are starting to feel like déjà vu.

Since the 2013 release of Blackfish—a documentary that questioned the safety and ethics of the company’s killer whale programs—public scrutiny and criticism of SeaWorld and its treatment of captive killer whales has increased.

In 2014, overall attendance at the company’s parks dropped from 23.4 million to 22.3 million, and profits dipped $80 million compared with last year.

Washington and California are mulling statewide bans on keeping orcas in captivity for entertainment.

To stem the tide of bad opinion, SeaWorld announced plans to put its whales in bigger tanks and has ended the tourist-friendly dolphin feeding program at its Orlando theme park.

Here’s a look at SeaWorld’s stock-price roller coaster since the company’s 2013 initial public offering.

SeaWorld Visits Drop
(Infographic: Courtesy Ycharts.com)

A Marine Park’s Stumbling Stock Price

Jan. 19, 2013
Blackfish premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.

April 19, 2013
SeaWorld stock goes public.
Stock price: $33.52

Oct. 24, 2013
Blackfish premieres on CNN and goes on to air more than a dozen times, garnering 21 million viewers.
Stock price: $29.95

March 7, 2014
California lawmakers propose to ban keeping orcas in captivity.
Stock price: $33.12

Aug. 15, 2014
SeaWorld announces a 4.3 percent drop in attendance over the previous quarter.
Stock price: $18.66

Feb. 26, 2015
SeaWorld announces that there were 1 million fewer visits to its parks from 2013 to 2014.
Stock price: $19.17