SeaWorld Partners With Artist Guy Harvey – Meanwhile, Orca Slams Head Against Gate In Disturbing New Video

SeaWorld on Tuesday announced a new partnership with marine artist Guy Harvey in an effort to bring awareness to ocean conservation.

SeaWorld’s CEO did not address plight of its captive orcas, although one was shown in a video released Wednesday, slamming itself repeatedly against a metal gate.

The video features a female orca crying and slamming her head into a metal gate while a second orca watches from the other side.

The video was given to the group The Dolphin Project by an anonymous activist. The orca is at Loro Parque, a zoo located in Tenerife, Spain, which is owned by SeaWorld. The killer whale is confined to a small medical pool.

The orca is “in obvious distress,” according to a statement by Helene Hesselager O’Barry of The Dolphin Project.

“This video shows the amount of stress and cruelty imposed on orcas as a result of confinement to small, barren tanks.”

O’Barry thinks that the orca may be Morgan, a female who was captured off the coast of the Netherlands in June of 2010.

O’Barry stated that, “Loro Parque is the largest tourist attraction in Spain. SeaWorld owns all six orcas at the park, including Morgan.

“…I traveled to Loro Parque last year to carry out an investigation of Loro Parque’s orca display, which ironically, is called ‘Orca Ocean.’ We were shocked at the poor living conditions and commercial exploitation of the orcas and bottlenose dolphins there.”

Experts say that repetitive behaviors are classic symptoms of distress in captive animals.

In this video, a whale puts on a disturbing show by slamming its body up and down while out of the pool.

Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld, made the announcement today that the company is teaming up with wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.

According to the Miami Herald, SeaWorld’s new ride, the Mako Coaster, will display Harvey’s art and exhibits, including a mural of a mako shark. Manby said in a phone interview that the artist’s work was “great.”

“We were so impressed with [Harvey’s] work that we wanted to partner with him. Millions of people come through our parks each year. By exposing [them] to his great work, we’ll be able to help him do more of it.”

The park will sell merchandise with Harvey’s work on it, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Guy Harvey Research Institute at Broward’s Nova Southeastern University.

One of the projects sponsored by SeaWorld will be the tagging of five makos, which will allow the institute to track the sharks during their migration. The tags cost $4,000 each. Harvey said that was one of the benefits of partnering with SeaWorld.

“The mako is one of the few sharks that is good to eat. The population is at high risk and vulnerable to extinction. It’s fitting that SeaWorld should increase attention to this species.”

SeaWorld is beginning its new program with Harvey in Orlando but hopes to expand to its other parks in San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas.

Harvey has partnered with other large companies including Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin. He also has worked with hotel operators to create the Guy Harvey Outpost brand.

“It’s fantastic to align with a company with the same goals. It takes cash to care.”

Following a controversy stirred by the film Blackfish, after Tilikum the orca killed his trainer, SeaWorld has experienced a dramatic drop in attendance.

The company is attempting to shift its focus to conservation rather than circus-type performances, but the public outcry for better facilities for the whales continues.

[Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP]