“Blackfish” portrays a different side of SeaWorld

Caroline Madden, ‘Doah Staff Writer
November 20, 2013



When you think of Sea World the first thing that comes to mind is the whale, Shamu. Shamu performing tricks has been ingrained in the public consciousness. The harrowing documentary “Blackfish” explores the dark side of SeaWorld that will make the public think differently about those whale shows. “Blackfish” focuses on the orca whale Tilikum to make their case against whales and all wild animals being in captivity.

Tilikum was involved with the death of three individuals, including the trainer Dawn Brancheau during the “Dine With Shamu” show in 2010. SeaWorld representatives claim that Tilikum confused Brancheau’s ponytail for a toy causing him to pull her underwater. However, her autopsy report suggests there was more trauma caused than SeaWorld leads the public to believe. The filmmakers of “Blackfish” deem that Tilikum acted out against his trainer because he was stressed and unhappy due to his contained living conditions. Throughout his life, Tilikum has frequently been left alone (while orcas are social creatures) in small dark tanks for hours and has also been paired with aggressive whales.

“Blackfish” knows how to tug on your heartstrings, it is hard not to shed a tear during a scene where a mother whale is screaming for her child who is being captured and taken away from her. Another scene interviews a very tough and burly whale catcher who bursts into tears from what he has been doing– capturing and kidnapping these whales from the wild and their families.

While documentaries can often be one-sided or manipulating, what “Blackfish” shows you is hard to ignore. Another telling fact “Blackfish” presents is that orcas rarely, if ever, attack humans in the wild. However, there are over forty incidents of a captive whale attacking a human. Blackfish attests that the whales are going crazy from being held captive. They are not like dogs, wanting to do tricks for the fun of humans. Orcas deserve to be free.

“Blackfish” has gained national attention after its CNN airing on Oct. 24. After it’s airing, Anderson Cooper held a “Crossfire” segment with the filmmakers and other researchers. After the CNN broadcast, SeaWorld issued a statement assuring that their whales are healthy and happy, and that in captivity they live longer lives than they would in the wild. But SeaWorld cannot stop the public’s reaction to the film; nearly 6 percent of SeaWorld’s attendance has gone down since that airing.

“Blackfish” is a gripping documentary makes you think twice about SeaWorld. If you are thinking of going to SeaWorld, you must watch this film beforehand. “Blackfish” is a truly heartbreaking depiction of animal abuse that is all happening right under our noses.

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