SeaWorld's stock took a dive more than 26 percent on Wednesday, causing the company to fall short on their

The theme park said that the low attendance is directly related to the debate over the treatment of captive orcas. SeaWorld has suffered from backlash since the CNN documentary "Blackfish" was released in October. "Blackfish" focuses on the killer whale Tilikum, who is to blame for the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. The film explores the poor treatment of captive orcas and how this causes them to act out in violence.

"Blackfish" led to a propsal of a California bill in April that would ban SeaWorld from using orcas for performances. SeaWorld was able to put off the proposal, threatening to seek damages if the law was passed. "If you ban them, you buy them," SeaWorld lobbyist Scott Wetch said.

The company is planning a "truth campaign" in order "to build and protect our brands, as well as to counter the recent media attention."

"The company believes attendance in the quarter was impacted by pressures relating to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California," chief executive Jim Atchison said.

In the first half of the year, the theme park suffered from a 4.3 percent decline in attendance. Revenue continued to plunge 1.5 percent in the most recent quarter.

SeaWorld also attributes bad weather, new attractions at other parks, and schools being released for summer late for the decline. 

Six Flags saw an attendance decline of 8 percent in this most recent quarter, also blaming the long winter. Disney theme parks saw an increase of 8 percent in revenue, bringing in more crowds while raising prices.

It will be interesting to see how SeaWorld responds to the negative backlash going forward and whether they will simply continue to discredit "Blackfish" or try to improve their treatment of marine life.

 
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