(SEAWORLD/BLACKFISH) Last week, the Orlando Business Journal conducted an online poll asking readers if their perception of SeaWorld had changed after the documentary Blackfish premiered last year.

Blackfish covers the treatment of orca whales in captivity at SeaWorld. The film focuses on Tilikum, a whale who has been involved with several deaths while being confined at the park. The film has received a lot of attention and has many people talking about the ethics of Seaworld and other marine parks.

Tilikum one of the orcas at SeaWorld sits in captivity. (SEAWORLD/BLACKFISH)
Tilikum has been involved with the deaths of three people. Photo Credit: Cowperthwaite/Magnolia Pictures

When the poll seemed to favor SeaWorld by 99 percent, a member of the Orlando Business Journal investigated further and discovered 54 percent of the responses to the poll came from an IP address from SeaWorld, effectively skewing the results of the poll in favor of the company.

Nick Gollattscheck released the following statement on behalf of SeaWorld.

“Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company and we encourage them to make their opinions known. 

If a poll is posted regarding SeaWorld, our team members have as much a right as anyone else to vote and express their opinion. We’re unsure why that’s being questioned here. 

In this case, each of the votes that came from a SeaWorld domain were cast by team members who are passionate about the incredible work SeaWorld does and the experiences our parks provide.” 

Clerks director watches Blackfish and takes to Twitter to speak out against SeaWorld. (BLACKFISH/SEAWORLD)
Kevin Smith joins the likes of Heart and REO Speedwagon by speaking out against SeaWorld. Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello

After news of the skewed poll was released, the results quickly changed and those who said they now feel negatively toward Seaworld increased dramatically.

While some tout SeaWorld’s high volume of visitors during the holidays as a sign that business is booming, there may be long-term repercussions.

SeaWorld continues to remain in the spotlight every time a celebrity speaks out in support of Blackfish and against the park’s inhumane captivity of marine animals. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Emma Roberts, and Kevin Smith have all tweeted their support for the film.

Recently, several performers pulled out of SeaWorld concerts, including the band Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride, and Trisha Yearwood, and protesters campaigned against a SeaWorld float in this year’s Rose Parade.

— Elana Pisani, exclusive to Global Animal