At least the whales have something to do while they are stuck in captivity. They must be bored out of their mind, and if there's nothing that we can do, then don't try to bore them even more! However, if there is something that can be done, such as moving them to a sea pen, then we should do that.
SeaWorld San Diego is doing the right thing, but for the wrong reason. They're not doing it because it's the right thing, they're doing it to save their reputation and bring back attendees. The whales may not be forced to perform anymore, but they're still in that negative environment. What's so difficult with releasing them back into their natural habitat?
Although public pressure was most likely the catalyst for SeaWorld's announcement to phase out killer whale shows in San Diego, the move does not address the heart of the problem. If the company truly wanted to take a stand, it could immediately end all such entertainment shows at all of its locations and shift its purpose to one more dedicated to animal conservation and research.
If you've seen any news about SeaWorld over the past few year you'll know that SeaWorld is no stranger to controversy. SeaWorld has been getting attacked from all sides by animals rights activists and politicians for years now for keeping the whales captive and as a result of people's strong feelings towards this they've been losing visitors every year. While SeaWorld is taking a step in the right direction by shutting down the killer whale show at one of its parks it does make you wonder why it isn't doing the same for the others. Admittedly, this behavior is very suspicious and doesn't leave much for people to go off of except trying to save face.
The 2013 documentary Blackfish highlighted the realities of orcas kept in captivity. In particular, that these whales are extremely stressed and this can, and does, lead to aggression. Sometimes orcas in captivity have killed people with such aggression. SeaWorld admits that admission numbers are down in their parks, especially in San Diego. Phasing out killer whale shows proves that Seaworld is compassionate to the whales. Such a move should bring the public back to Seaworld, increasing their bottom line and ending all the negative publicity.
SeaWorld, when making the decision to phase out the killer whale show in San Deigo, is just trying to keep the public safe from harm. They are killer whales after all. Only trained professionals should view the killer whales, otherwise there will be a lot of deaths and SeaWorld would of course be liable.