New Dolphin Show Set To Debut At SeaWorld

Blue Horizons Show To Debut May 29

More elaborate and spectacular is how SeaWorld is describing its new multi-million dollar dolphin show called Blue Horizons, and 10News got a behind the scenes preview of the show, set to debut just as the debate over marine mammals in captivity heats up.

While more than a dozen dolphins are the stars of the show, it also includes two pilot whales and exotic birds, as well as aerial and diving performers. It's the first new show in four years and the new show retires the former Dolphin Discovery show that ran for more than a decade.

"We're always trying to have new exciting things for our guests to see and after 13 years we said it's time to make a change to the dolphin show," said Rick Schuiteman, SeaWorld's Director of Show Production. Schuiteman described the show as a high-intensity, energetic production.

For SeaWorld, the new show is also some good news in the wake of tragedy after a trainer was killed in February during a show at SeaWorld in Orlando. For now, trainers are no longer going into the water with the killer whales, but that's not the case with the dolphins.

"There are risks with any animal you interact with, but obviously with a 5,000-pound animal, the ramifications are going to be different that a 500-pound animal," said Bill Hoffman, Assistant Curator of Animal Training.

Training protocols and the animal's behavior are assessed on a regular basis. Leading up to the launch of Blue Horizons, trainers and dolphins are spending up to eight hours a day practicing their routines. Still, February's deadly incident has renewed debate over marine mammals in captivity, even sparking a recent congressional hearing.

Responding to the debate, Hoffman said, "I think these animals provide a great tool to educate people and to teach them about animals and to gain an appreciation about them they would not be able to have otherwise."

Blue Horizons opens to the public on May 29.

The park is promoting a special $5 admission fee for children with each full paid adult admission bought online.

The money from those $5 tickets will be used to fund wildlife conservation efforts.