ORLANDO, Florida (GlossyNews) — Wearied by weeks of fighting the horrendous Gulf oil spill, the U.S. Coast Guard mobilized today to battle a large leak from a giant whale in a SeaWorld theme park.
“This is massive,” said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. “An animal this size naturally produces a very big leak.”
As of this morning the leak was still spreading, setting off a scramble to contain environmental and economic damage, and raising serious questions about whether proper bladder controls were in place.
Helicopter flyovers showed a vast sheen on top of the water.
“The whale is resting the bottom of the pool,” Admiral Allen reported. “We can’t get close enough to shut off the leak right at its source, so we are exploring other options.”
Options already dismissed as impractical include a “burn off” fire and so-called “top kill” and “junk shot” operations, which inject heavy mud and golf balls to seal the leak. “This stuff isn’t going to burn,” the SeaWorld spokesperson pointed out. “And you can’t just fill up a SeaWorld whale with mud and golf balls.”
The best chance for containment now appears to be lowering a large dome-shaped urinal into the water, which officials believe could siphon off at least a portion of the leak. “This is a trained whale,” the SeaWorld spokesperson noted. “We are hopeful but realistic about how much of the leak we might capture with the urinal dome.”
In Washington, President Obama announced an immediate moratorium on whale training. “The American people need to know how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again,” the President said.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Congressional investigators disputed the “flow estimates” SeaWorld initially provided, contending underwater video shows a much larger leak.
But SeaWorld officials stressed the difficulty of making accurate estimates with this type of leak. “Think of a soda can that’s been shaken,” a SeaWorld scientist explained. “You get a lot of gas with this type of leak. That’s what causes the gushing you see in the video – the gas lift.”
Federal officials also expressed frustration at what they termed “finger pointing” and “blame shifting” between SeaWorld, which owns the whale, and the trainer responsible for ensuring the whale maintains bladder control.
“Bladder control should kick in automatically,” a SeaWorld executive testified. “This is our whale but not our accident.”
“We don’t know why the whale’s bladder control failed,” the trainer responded. “But as the whale’s owner, SeaWorld is responsible for the clean up.”
Environmental groups warned of potential wildlife harm to diving birds and plankton, while early assessments of economic damage were mixed.
“Ticket demand is OK, but food and beverage sales are suffering,” the SeaWorld spokesperson said. “It’s not an appetizing situation. The lemonade concession is all but dead.”