Sea World of Texas today is unveiling a multi million dollar investment to build new, first of its kind killer whale environments, as well as new facilities to house sea lions and dolphins.
Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports that Sea World will also fund new programs to protect ocean health and killer whales in the wild.
"For fifty years, Sea World has transformed how the world views marine life," Sea World Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison said. "The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations."
Sea World has been under fire from animal rights groups since the documentary 'Blackfish' raised questions about its handling of it's marine life. Sea World stock has taken a pounding due to the protests, and slow attendance this summer which is largely due to Sea World boycotts by celebrities.
"Through up close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform hour visitors experience killer whales," Atchison said. "Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact and the depths found in the ocean, or a birds eye view from above."
The $10 million dollars in investment across the Sea World parks is named the Blue World Project because of its size and scope.
Sea World says it has also engaged a panel of marine science experts to 'bring new perspectives and ideas to the project.'
"The panel will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and well being of the animals," Atchison said.
"I have high expectations for Sea World in light of today's announcement that major investments will improve the experience and outcomes for whales both in their parks and in the wile," said California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals blasted Sea World's plans.
"This announcement is a desperate drop in the bucket move to try to turn back the hands of time," spokeswoman Lindsay Wright told Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
She says if Sea World really cared about it's captive killer whales, it would release them into the ocean.
"Sea World says its new tanks will be 350 feet long," she said. "That means an orca would have to swim 1500 laps per day to rack up the 100 miles per day a whale will swim in the ocean."