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Support the Ban on Captive Orca Breeding!

| Valerie Lowe, Intern, International Marine Mammal Project
Topics: Dolphin and Whale Trade, Dolphins, SeaWorld

On October 8th, 2015, SeaWorld requested a permit to renovate their orca pools in San Diego to include more depth, volume, and features.  The California Coastal Commission, which is assigned with regulating development in the California Coastal Zone, approved this request for expansion with the requirement that SeaWorld agree to stop both the breeding and the transfer of orcas into or out of the state.

In the next few weeks, the Coastal Commission Staff will present their draft final findings regarding this amendment to the permit.  The hearing was scheduled to take place March 9th, but has been postponed by SeaWorld.  We do not know when the hearing will be re-scheduled.

At this future meeting, the Coastal Commission will need to approve the findings of the staff.  These findings specifically state: “SeaWorld, in constructing the proposed orca facility, will be prohibited from the sale, trade, or transfer of any orca into or out of the proposed facility.”   The findings also ban any forced breeding of captive orcas in San Diego.  The findings further define the reasoning of the Coastal Commission in adopting these amendments, which will feature prominently in ongoing litigation by SeaWorld against the Coastal Commission.  Earth Island recently filed legal papers to intervene in the lawsuit in support of the Coastal Commission position and for captive orcas.

These special conditions, as well as eight others that are described in the findings, ensure the protection of California’s wild orca population as well as phasing out orcas already in captivity in SeaWorld San Diego.

What You Can Do:

In the meantime, the public needs to support the Coastal Commission in their decision, and urge the commissioners to approve the new draft findings of the Staff, which strongly support the Commission amendments to SeaWorld’s permit.

** Contact the Coastal Commission to inform them that you are behind their amendment to the permit request

** Urge them to approve the revised findings prepared by CCC staff behind the amendment

Contact Information for California Coastal Commission:

Refer to Item:  CDP Application No. 6-15-0422:  SeaWorld Orca Enclosure Expansion.

Via Email:

Via Regular Mail:

California Coastal Commission

45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000

San Francisco, CA  94105


- You can also contact your own California state Senator and Assemblymember in Sacramento voicing your disapproval of SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas and urging support for the Coastal Commission ban on breeding of orcas

- Consider sending an email to your local newspaper in support of the Coastal Commission ban on breeding and transfers of captive orcas.


Thanks for your support!


Photo of SeaWorld orca Tilikum by Mark J. Palmer/Earth Island Institute.