The one and only time I went to SeaWorld was nine years ago in Japan. We watched dolphins do all sorts of tricks, and although we didn’t understand what the trainers were saying to the audience, we enjoyed it. I never had the chance to go see the killer whales down in Orlando, and now after watching this film, I never will.
“Blackfish” is a documentary following the life of Tilikum, a famous male orca of SeaWorld, and his numerous incidents resulting in human deaths, most recently the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
Taken from the wild almost thirty years ago as a young orca, Tilikum was forced to spend two-thirds of his life cramped in a 20x30ft tank, when he wasn’t doing shows. In 1991, according to witness testimony, he tugged on an unsuspecting trainer’s foot causing her to fall into the water, and he, along with the other whales, drowned her. While this particular whale was involved in two additional deaths, there have been other fatal incidents with other killer whales at SeaWorld and similar venues. No human fatality has ever been recorded involving a killer whale in the wild. These whales are simply not meant to be in captivity.
The film also spends time focusing on SeaWorld and their actions taken to cover up the true cause of these incidents. In every case, they blame the trainers who died, saying there was a timing error, or they just slipped in the water, regardless of the fact that there in an obvious pattern of incidents with this particular whale. Regarding the incident in 1991, the popular belief is that the trainer fell into the water. It is only according to actual witness testimony that the trainer was deliberately pulled under by the whale.
What I liked about this documentary was that it didn’t shoehorn you into activism against SeaWorld, it simply showed you the truth of what was going on in video evidence and numerous testimonies from former SeaWorld trainers. And what video evidence it did show is frankly horrifying.
Everyone, especially people who have been to places like SeaWorld and have enjoyed it, should see this documentary. People deserve to know the truth of what is happening down there.
“Blackfish” comes out in theaters on July 19th.