GATHERING: Assemblymember Richard Bloom introduces a bill Friday on the Santa Monica Pier that would end whale shows. (Brandon Wise brandonw@smdp.com)

GATHERING: Assemblymember Richard Bloom introduces a bill Friday on the Santa Monica Pier that would end whale shows. (Brandon Wise brandonw@smdp.com)

SM PIER — Former Santa Monica Mayor, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a bill on Friday that would end whale shows in California.

The proposed bill, which Bloom unveiled at a press conference on the Santa Monica Pier, would end orca breeding and the import and export of orcas into and out of the state. The proposed bill comes in response to a recent public outcry about the impact that captivity and performance schedules have on the giant mammals.

“These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined to concrete pools for their entire lives,” Bloom said. “It is time that we embrace that the long accepted practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement must end.”

Advocates say that intense schedules, small pools, and separation of family members is detrimental to the well-being of the creatures.

The bill was at least partially a result of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Blackfish,” which scrutinizes the lives of orca whales in captivity focusing on one that played a role in the deaths of two SeaWorld trainers.

The film’s director, Gabriela Coperthwaite, and two SeaWorld trainers were also on-hand at the conference.

“I think the movie unquestionably has galvanized public opinion,” Bloom said. “Public opinion about killer whales is largely based on our experience at marine waterparks. That’s where the average individual learns a little bit about killer whales.”

The film alone was not enough for him, he said. When he was asked to carry the bill, he reached out to the scientific community.

Dr. Naomi Rose, one of the members of that scientific community, spoke at the conference explaining that the sagging dorsal fin of a captive whale is not, as some believe, a sign that it’s sad.

“It is a symptom of captivity and the result of simple, inevitable, gravity,” she said. “A force that has little power over wild orcas who spend most of their time below the sea.”

Bloom is optimistic about the bill’s chances.

“Only in the last 24 hours, my Twitter feed has been going crazy in a way that it’s never done before,” he said. “Probably 99 percent of the people who’ve contacted me are in support of this bill.”

One of SeaWorld’s three parks is located in San Diego, just 130 miles down the coast from where Bloom unveiled the bill. SeaWorld has criticized “Blackfish” as false and emotionally manipulative, stating that footage and stories from the film were taken out of context to promote an anti-captivity narrative.

SeaWorld released a statement about Bloom’s press conference, calling some of those on hand “well known extreme animal rights activists.”

Bloom, during the press conference, said that the bill is not an attack on SeaWorld.

“It’s not trying to harm SeaWorld and its business model,” he said. “SeaWorld is a $3 billion corporate business. It has facilities throughout the United States, and I am confident that SeaWorld can carry on without this one element of the many things that it does.”

 

dave@smdp.com

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