A park spokesman says 2,200 people braved chilly, wet conditions at the park to watch the outdoor Shamu show "Believe," a show the park describes as "accentuating the close relationship SeaWorld trainers have with the killer whales." Trainers were given a standing ovation as they approached the stage to perform.
"I just wanted to be here for this show. It's so special," said season pass-holder Russell Thomphsen. "This touches so many lives."
Despite the cheering, enthusiastic audience, the show wasn't the same. Officials ruled out any in-tank play for humans at all of the three SeaWorld parks while they await a full report from the fatal incident Wednesday, so trainers directed the orcas from platforms rather than enter the water to perform the tricks for which they and the whales are famous.
The show also opened with a photo montague memorial to fallen trainer Dawn Brancheau as several of her former colleagues wept, a tribute that will be repeated at all of today's shows.
"It was very moving," said Geislinger.
Tilikum, the only mature breeding male orca at SeaWorld, was not included in the show. SeaWorld intends to keep him.