Sea World

SeaWorld Shares Recent Work to Protect Marine Animals and Their Habitats

With over 40,000 animal rescues and counting, SeaWorld is a huge advocate for the conservation, rehabilitation and protection of marine life of all shapes and sizes. The much-loved theme park and entertainment company partners with state, local & federal agencies, stranding networks and zoos & aquariums in order to assemble knowledgeable and fast-acting rescue teams who aid ill, injured and orphaned animals 24/7.

Want to know what the team’s been up to lately? SeaWorld shared a short newsletter outlining its major rescue, conservation and rehabilitation efforts for July through September 2022. Here’s what you need to know.

Abby’s Return to San Diego

A retiree from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Surrogacy Program, Abby, a 15-year-old sea otter has taken up permanent residence at SeaWorld San Diego. A rescue success story, Abby’s history with SeaWorld San Diego dates to 2007 when she was rescued after being stranded at just three days old. Now, after raising five orphaned pups of her own, Abby is back home, and guests can visit her alongside five other rescued southern sea otters when they check out SeaWorld San Diego’s Otter Outlook.

“It’s important to raise awareness of just how critical sea otters are to shaping and maintaining the ecosystems of the California coast and why efforts to recover the species are so vital,” said Eric Otjen, vice president of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Diego.

SeaWorld Rescues and Rehabilitates Five Threatened Guadalupe Fur Seals and One Elephant Seal

This summer, SeaWorld San Diego celebrated the successful return and rehabilitation of six rescued seals. Among the seals were five Guadalupe fur seals which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and one elephant seal. The company worked alongside the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) to capture and rehabilitate the creatures and SeaWorld San Diego has rescued and rehabilitated a total of 36 Guadalupe fur seals since 2018. 

“Rescuing, rehabilitating and returning animals in need is at the forefront of our mission, and Guadalupe Fur Seals are no exception,” said Otjen. “Responding to animals in crisis requires a great deal of collaboration between partners dedicated to preserving threatened and endangered species, and we’re proud to work alongside partners like NOAA, PMMC and other members of the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network to ensure the conservation of these precious animals.”

Helping 10 Endangered Sea Turtles

With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and conservation groups Cayman Turtle Centre and Turtles Fly Too, SeaWorld helped 10 endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles find new homes. Part of a group of yearlings raised for an experimental captive breeding program, the sea turtles will now take up permanent residence at zoos and aquariums throughout the U.S. to help educate visitors on sea turtles and conservation.  

“SeaWorld has more than four decades of experience caring for a wide variety of sea turtles all of which are threatened or endangered which is part of our mission to protect marine animals and their habitats globally,” said Jon Peterson, vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld Orlando and head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team. “In addition to providing long-term care, we’ve rescued and rehabilitated more than 2,500 turtles with the goal of returning healthy animals back to the wild as we view recuse and rehabilitation as an important line of defense in the fight for species survival. The SeaWorld Conservation Fund has also provided more than $100,000 in grants and scientific support to 10 different turtle conservation projects across Africa and the Americas.”

Baby Dolphin Rescued from Clearwater Beach Gets New Home and New Name

NOAA chose SeaWorld Orlando to care for a baby dolphin rescued from Clearwater Beach on July 20th, 2022. The dolphin was found stuck in an entanglement of crab trap lines and was in critical, but stable condition. After receiving intensive care from SeaWorld for nearly nine weeks, Florida’s flippered friend was able to make a strong recovery.

“We have nearly 60 years of experience in the care and study of dolphins at every age and throughout their entire lifespan, from birth to geriatric care, and that knowledge and expertise is what makes extraordinary recoveries like these possible,” said Peterson. “We are very grateful to the lifeguards who first spotted this little guy struggling in the water under the pier and called authorities for help. We are equally grateful for our partners in the Southeast Stranding Network that handled the rescue and delivered him into our care. While he still has a long road to full recovery, we’re proud of the great progress he has made so far. He has captured everyone’s heart and we are thrilled to invite animal lovers everywhere to vote on their favorite name for him and join us on his journey of hope and resiliency.”

After collecting nearly 8,000 votes cast by fans online, the dolphin was named Ridgway in honor of the late Dr. Sam Ridgway, a pioneer in marine mammal medicine and science.

$300K+ Toward Shark Research Funding 

Sharks need love too. To celebrate Shark Awareness Day in 2022, SeaWorld, in partnership with nonprofit OCEARCH and the SeaWorld Conservation Fund, donated over $300,000 to shark research conservation projects. Each year, approximately 100 million sharks are killed in the wild, often for their fins which are used in shark fin soup. This, alongside the animal’s infamous reputation, are among some of the reasons that education and conservation are integral to species preservation. SeaWorld parks help travelers to interact with sharks in an up-close-and-personal way through viewing, feeding and interacting with dozens of species.

“We are privileged to care for such a diverse population of shark species and to share these amazing creatures with the public,” said Dr. Chris Dold, chief zoological officer at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Protecting sharks is not always top of mind in part because so many people don’t understand the importance of this species and how they help keep the ocean’s ecosystem in balance. So, creating experiences that enable the public to learn about sharks in fun and engaging ways is essential to better understand and appreciate them as more than just predators.”

Texas Manatee Recused and Rehabilitated

After a multi-month stint at SeaWorld San Antonio, a rehabilitated Texas manatee was returned to its native Florida waters with the help of DHL Express and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The manatee was rescued in December 2021 by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld San Antonio, USFWS, Texas State Aquarium, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Galveston Bay Foundation and Texas authorities after it was found suffering from cold stress, flipper damage, severe weight loss and other ailments. After completing eight months of rehabilitation, the manatee was transported from Texas to sunny Florida via a custom-built state-of-the-art container built by DHL Express.

“This is our fifth manatee successfully transferred through our global Hub in Cincinnati this year, and DHL is thrilled to continue supporting the effort to preserve and protect the manatee population,” said Cain Moodie, senior vice president of network operations and aviation for DHL Express Americas. “Moving manatees is an intricate process, so the speed and reliability of our air network, coupled with the extensive logistics planning with SeaWorld and their partners, helps ensure these wonderful creatures get back safely to their natural habitat.”

SeaWorld and OCEARCH Renew Partnership

Earlier this year, SeaWorld and OCEARCH renewed their multi-year partnership to continue gathering crucial scientific data in the study of essential marine species in the wild. The two organizations will continue to work together with a strong focus on the areas of rescue, research, education and policy to advance understanding in order to help ensure healthy and abundant populations.

“Our partnership with SeaWorld has been an important part of making our research possible,” said OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader, Chris Fischer. “They’ve helped us build out and broaden our science disciplines to maximize the amount of knowledge and data we collect from every animal we sample and release. Their expertise in reproductive biology is leading the way in understanding how white sharks mate, reproduce and give birth. We look forward to continuing to partner with them for many years to maximize the rate at which we can collect data to return our oceans to balance and abundance.”  

40 Years of Partnership with Florida Schools

Since 1982, SeaWorld Orlando and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) have worked together to provide hands-on education on conservation — including marine life, veterinary care, hydroponic gardening, beekeeping and environmental conservation — to future generations. In August of 2022, the two celebrated 40 years of partnership and looked forward to many more years working together.

A product of this partnership is Eco Club, a group of OCPS students who show their dedication to environmental conservation through fun, hands-on activities. “Eco Club gives students an outlet to learn about the natural world in ways that we never thought possible,” said Dawn Chehab, teacher at Millennia Gardens Elementary School and founding staff member of Eco Club. “We are so grateful for the interactive educational experiences SeaWorld continues to provide. It truly makes learning these important topics fun for the students.”