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Matt Levine

Securities Fraud Was Lurking in the Orca Pool

SeaWorld lied about "Blackfish." When it confessed, the stock dropped.

Witness the “Blackfish” effect.

Witness the “Blackfish” effect.

Photographer: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket

This post originally appeared in  Money Stuff.

If a captive killer whale, stressed by the conditions of its captivity, kills its trainer, is that securities fraud? Sure! Everything is securities fraud! I mean, the Securities and Exchange Commission will not ban the whale from the securities industry. But if someone makes a film alleging that conditions at SeaWorld parks cause stress on killer whales that leads them to lash out at trainers, and if that documentary damages SeaWorld’s brand and causes a drop in revenue, and if SeaWorld downplays the effect of the film on revenue, then sure, why not, securities fraud: