John Linn
John Linn

Just as Walt Disney was the man behind the mouse, you might say John Linn is the man behind the whale. As senior director, engineering services at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Linn is involved in all 10 of the company’s parks. His primary responsibility is managing capital development, which entails overseeing design and construction for new products and attractions, including environments for Shamu and his friends.

Linn started working at SeaWorld San Diego as a college student. He earned an engineering degree, which enabled him to work on the water filtration for marine life systems. Later he earned a graduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and has since joined the small community of experts with expertise in creating large-scale systems for aquatic animal life.

“That comes by sheer mass because SeaWorld does more than anyone else,” Linn says. He adds that the biggest difference between recreational water for humans, and aquatic environments created for animals, is that with the animals there’s more risk involved because they are living in the environment.

With less research and standards [for animal environments], he adds, “there is less opportunity to build upon work done by others.” 

Because of the complexity of the systems designed for the SeaWorld animals, Linn is very familiar with advanced treatment options such as UV and reverse osmosis, which makes him an ideal candidate for work on the Model Aquatic Health Code Project. He first worked with the CDC in 1999, when the agency was collecting samples to update the fecal response protocols. Today he's a member of the MAHC Steering Committee.

From the start, Linn says he’s tried to contribute his disciplined approach to problem-solving to the group.

“We all know why [the MAHC] is needed. There’s a plethora of codes out there and just looking at the broad range of requirement parameters … you quickly recognize that there is no agreement whatsoever,” Linn says. “It causes confusion. ... When you know that the next county over requires something different, it begs the question of who’s right and who’s wrong.”