Tag Archives: SeaWorld

Have I been naive?


I have always liked killer whales. I dunno why I just have, therefor I watch a lot of killer whale documentaries. One day I was searching for a killer whale documentary and up pops Blackfish. After I watched it I was shocked and devastated. I had no opinion of SeaWorld before this. I went to SeaWorld once when I was eight and got lost looking at dolphins that’s it. After I watched Blackfish I pictured SeaWorld as this major greedy corporation that abuses killer whales for money and I’m not so sure anymore.

I have mentioned Blackfish a lot on this blog and throughout the short time I’ve had this blog you can see my opinion slowly begin to change. After I watched Blackfish the first time I was a wannabe ‘whale activist’ set on freeing these poor abused animals from the evil SeaWorld. I didn’t consider for one minute that my emotions were being manipulated. Looking at Blackfish now my perspective is very different.

There were a few things at the start that begin to tweak my absolute hatred of SeaWorld and adoration of Blackfish. I watch a lot of whale documentaries so one day I watched a documentary called ‘The Whale’, I would advise everyone to watch this. It’s an amazing documentary, it’s not about abused killer whales or anything like that but more about the struggle of friendship between humans and animals like killer whales and how on rare occasions that wall is broken down. Anyway, I was watching The Whale when a few scenes began to look familiar. I realised that Blackfish had taken a few of these scenes then added them in at certain points for dramatic effect. This can be seen quite a lot in Blackfish. The scenes of killer whales being captured at the start comes form a documentary about Lolita and so on.

A few other things began to pop up. Halfway through Blackfish, the former trainers make a point that killer whales are dangerous to humans and at the end there is a close up of a trainer with his face all cut and bloody. This is edited in to make it seem as though a killer whale did this when actually the trainer accidentally ran into a screen and cut himself. Even after seeing this I didn’t want to believe that Blackfish was propaganda against SeaWorld. I was set on trying to make a difference to free these animals and I didn’t want to be swayed from this.

While doing another article on the proposed ban of orca captivity in California I did a bit of research. The idea to release orcas back into the wild or relocate them to sea pens is a very romantic idea. However, that’s the problem, out of all the orcas to be transported either to the wild or sea pens only one orca has a fair chance of survival after this move. That made me think am I just wrapped up in this ‘free the whales’ craze. Is this really what’s best for these animals.

The former trainers in the documentary where trainers decades ago and things change and some of them left SeaWorld in unfavorable terms so obviously they would be willing to bash SeaWorld.

Then I finally did some research into ‘the enemy’ SeaWorld. It turns out that killer whales haven’t been captured for SeaWorld since the late 70s early 80s, nearly all killer whales in SeaWorld have been bred there and the ones that haven’t been bred there were caught decades ago. I’m not saying I’m condoning it but these whales would die if they were released back into the wild. All other marine mammals are rescued with intent to be released back into the wild and so much time and effort goes into care for them.

I started reading posts and watching videos of those against Blackfish and some of the thigns make you question if you’re doing this for the whales or for yourself? Then again the stuff against Blackfish is so one sided I feel like I’m being manipulated all over again. So now I don’t know where I stand on the matter anymore because I don’t have any inside views. I can take one side or the other but really all I know is stuff coming from someone’s biased mouth.

While watching a video with a recent former trainer he made an excellent point. So many other things are happening in the world, illegal pouching, the zoo that killed their animals and that’s only the animal side of it. If this much effort went into these things that are genuinely wrong and not a case of special effects or word of mouth a real difference can be made.

The fact that Richard Bloom is trying to ban orca captivity in California after watching Blackfish shows how powerful this documentary is. However, I think it’s really, really poor of him to make such a major change to so many lives, human and animals, after one documentary.

Currently, I don’t know where to stand on the matter? SeaWorld help so many other animals and when it comes down to it isn’t evil at all but I don’t see why killer whales and other animals have to perform backflips etc. for food. Can’t they just be observed naturally. On the other hand, if you take killer whales out of SeaWorld and into sea pens and the wild the chances are these whales will die and for no other reason than because we thought it was wrong.


The next Free Willy?


Californian assemblyman, Richard Bloom, has proposed a ban on orca captivity in the Californian state to take place. The bill would make it illegal to hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes.” It also would ban artificial insemination of captive killer whales and block the import of orcas or orca semen. After controversial documentary ‘Blackfish’ by Gabrielle Cowperwaithe highlighted the alleged abuse on orcas at SeaWorld there has been a lot of support for this bill to be passed. However, there are many who claim that this bill is irrelevant and could potentially be dangerous for the killer whales.

This proposal for the law to be passed was after the wake of controversial documentary on SeaWorld ‘Blackfish’. After ‘Blackfish ‘was released it went global after originally only been shown at five cinemas in Canada after the Sundance festival. This has sparked major backlash on SeaWorld and many are demanding the orcas be released. Richard Bloom has stated: ‘There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes. These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives. It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement.”

This is not a foreign concept at India, Croatia, Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile have banned cetacean captivity and Switzerland have banned dolphin captivity. Under this law there would be 10 orcas that would be released from SeaWorld in San Diego ranging from wild caught orcas such as Corgi aged 36 and captivity bred orcas such as Kastaka.

Green Peace member and active petitioner, Oskar Bindere, stated:

‘I am in full support of Bloom’s movement. I feel that orca captivity is outdated and barbaric. Not only orca captivity but a lot of captivity for animals, it is unfair and unjust.’

When asking Bindere how he felt towards the documentary, Blackfish that led to this proposed law he stated:

‘I did watch Blackfish. I have mixed feelings towards the documentary. On the one hand, I understand where the documentary comes from and they’re not untrue ideals they have presented. On the other hand I do feel like the truth has been twisted slightly to fit their point. That is something I do not agree with the truth speaks for itself.’

The proposal has shocked the captivity world. There has been positive and negative feedback on the proposal. However, after the proposal was made there was a reported drop in SeaWorld stock.

When Bloom was speaking with takepart.com he stated that captivity was not on his radar before watching the chilling documentary Blackfish.

Bloom states:

‘I’m not a big fan of extremists in any form. This bill came about as a result of my involvement in the issue. No one had influence over me, other than my having seen Blackfish and contacted scientists.

As for their second argument, I completely understand the economic value and jobs that SeaWorld provides. But I don’t think anybody would ever argue that we can justify jobs by supporting bad conduct.’

If the bill is passed it is reported that SeaWorld will be the ones to do the clearing up. They will have to relocate the orcas whether that be releasing them into the wild or sending them to sea pens.

After receiving word of the proposed law SeaWorld’s lobbyist released a statement saying that this is the doing of “extreme animal activists” some of whom “partnered with PETA in bringing the meritless claim that animals in human care should be considered slaves under the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — a clear publicity stunt.’

Another critic towards the idea is Marine Mammal Parks past President Billy Hurley. He stated:

“It’s very easy for some of the extremists to say things like, ‘Oh, if we had a sanctuary, if we had a sea pen, it would just be so much different.’ And the reality is that if you had a sea pen, you would still need veterinary care, you would still need qualified people to take care of the animals, you would still need to be careful about those types of environmental changes that could occur while the animals were in those conditions. The list goes on and on.’

Personally, I am for Bloom’s proposition and I am very intrigued as to what will happen when the bill is passed. However, I am very aware of the fact that there are both pros and cons.

I am aware that orcas have sensory deprivation in captivity and their lives are being shortened. However, a lot of whales will die if they are released back into the wild. I do believe that captivity led to the killer whale Tillikum’s psychosis and that eventually led to Dawn Brancheu’s death.

Orcas are intelligent creatures and, in my opinion, there is no valid argument to capture these mammals and make them perform for entertainment and money.

The backlash of Blackfish: Is it all a lie?

The world has been outraged by the horrifying documentary of Killer Whale abuse in SeaWorld, Blackfish. It has been no secret that SeaWorld has claimed the whole documentary is a lie and that it is very one-sided.

Marilee Menard, former director of the Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Aquariums, has have hit back by saying that Blackfish:

“ignores the essence of parks and aquariums — their dedication to wildlife research, conservation, education and rescue of stranded marine mammals.

Aquariums fund studies on the diets, reproduction and immune systems of marine mammals as well as evaluate contaminants affecting certain species to help understand and improve animals’ health in the wild. 

Marine parks have explored technologies to protect wild animals from fishing gear that cause many deaths each year. Also, animals in human care are surrogates for studies of wild, endangered species that would be impossible to complete without disturbing their vulnerable wild counterparts.”

This does sound like an intellectual answer with valid points. However, I think it comes down to the good vs the bad, so to speak. The first point made is that marine mammals are studied to help improve the life of animals in the wild. Fair enough. However, orcas are being taken away from their families, put in a foreign environment and forced to perform. Is this a case of the end justify the mean?

The next point made is that ‘marine parks have explored technologies to protect wild animals from fishing gear that cause many deaths each year’. When killer whales are fished from the ocean for captivity many whales die due to the flash bombs and stress of the whole event.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any advantages to killer whales in captivity. However, they are very few or far between. More often than not they advantages seem to benefit humans instead of the animals.

Also this article, which can you find here : CNN, uses images which I find quite misleading for example: A photo of Halle Berry, because obviously if a celebrity thinks it’s okay then it is.


Here is an image of Keiko, the killer whale who played ‘Free Willy’ being released. The caption explains how Keiko wasn’t ready to be independent and spent most of his time with fishermen and children, then stating he died in 2002 ‘most likely from pneumonia’ indicating that this orca would be better in captivity.


Here is an image of a killer whale who was found ‘starving’ in the ocean and was moved to Loro Parque to perform in captivity where she was fed and well looked after. However, what they fail to mention is that Loro Parque is the worst kept aquarium of all the aquariums. When the whales were originally moved from SeaWorld to this aquarium   nothing was ready and the whales constantly has problems. Not to mention that trainer, Alexis Martinez, was killed by a killer whale at this park.


It is obvious Blackfish is very one-sided. However,  I feel that for all the ‘examinations’ they do on these animals to help get a better understanding of how they operate in the wild is a little back-handed.

Yes, killer whales have died when they’ve been released from captivity into the wild but after a while these whales are no longer dependent and have had their freedom stripped away then told to go hunt for themselves so their death is inevitable in most cases.

I personally believe that no matter what facts are thrown at me I won’t ever agree to killer whales in captivity.

Whale of a time?

Killer Whales or Orcas are portrayed as cute and intelligent mammals that do backflips on cue to music and are man’s best friend of the sea.

However, after the gripping documentary Blackfish by Gabrielle Cowperthwaite, I do feel guilty calling a documentary during which three people die gripping but it’s true, many views across the globe have changed. The documentary, described as ‘chilling and haunting’,  connected with audiences on an emotional level causing petition pages to spring up left, right and centre like an Orca at SeaWorld. One example is the ‘Save the Whales’ page. Why does this documentary cause such a sense of sadness and rage for Killer Whales in Captivity?

My theory is that throughout the documentary you begin to understand the whales. Experience their torment and abuse, especially Tilikum, the Orca that the documentary is based on. When  audiences see the obvious cruelty the whales are subjected to we feel rage and injustice, not because it’s happening just for cruelty but because they’re being forced to entertain for us.

The documentary begins with showing whales being hunted by SeaWorld, ripped away from their families while the families stay and communicate to the young whale being, essentially, kidnapped. This is when the audience begins to humanise these mammals. You can see their grief and then begin to understand their family bond is similar to human. That is when the audience becomes gripped. What happens after is what causes the audience rage.

The large male, Tilikum, is the ‘star’ of the documentary. He is the epitome of the abuse that happens in captivity. Locked into a tiny box with other whales that ‘rake’ their teeth off his skin due to their frustration, having food witheld and forced to perform everyday to a crowd of oblivious spectators, I believe we feel angry throughout this documentary is because at some time or another, we or someone we know was that oblivious spectator. Happily laughing while  a Killer Whale splashed us in our seats saying ‘Oh my God they’re so smart.’ However, everything turns sinister when Tilikum kills young Keltie Burns at Sealand of the Pacific after she slips in the pool. This is when the media cover up begins and you begin to see the corruption of SeaWorld. Sealand shuts down and the whales are put up for sale. SeaWorld buys Tilikum and this is when our ‘villian’ of the story enters.

SeaWorld attains Tilikum and do not tell their employees that he killed Keltie Byrne, blaming it on the other two Orcas at Sealand. This is when the audience begins to understand the corruption of SeaWorld as they lie to their trainers. Throughout the documentary trainers, John Hardgrove, Samantha Berg, Marc Simmms and more, begin to tell their story of the questionable ethics of SeaWorld. They highlight that Tilikum was alone for most of his life in SeaWorld, away from the other whales and also other tragedies that happened in the mega corperation. John Hardgrove stated his eyes began to open to the abuse at SeaWorld ‘when we started separating moms from their calves.’

‘Contrary to what SeaWorld’s carefully prepared statements that they put out saying they’ll never separate moms from calves unless it’s medical, that’s bullshit. Total bullshit. I can give you so many examples that that’s not true. And not just my opinion that it’s not true — it’s not true. I was there for those, and I know the exact reasons we moved those whales, and it was because we had a need in another park for that particular animal, whether it was a juvenile male or a juvenile female, or a female that knew all of the water work behaviors, or a dominant female, or whatever.’

You see the female whales grieving for their young. It is heartbreaking. However, the attitude of SeaWorld was to move on and perform. The documetary continues to lead up to when Tilikum kills Dawn Brancheau in 2010, causing such horrific injuries infront of a horrified crowd. However, none of the trainers blames the whale Tilikum, they said it was SeaWorld’s actions that led to his ‘psychosis’.

After the documentary was shown at the Sundance film festival it went viral. There was a lot of backlash towards killer whales in captivity. However, there was also a lot of backlash towards the documentary itself, being described as ‘dubious’ and being one sided. Which, to a certain extent it is. It is a fact that I can’t argue against, it does only concentrate on the negative. For me personally, I do believe that the bad outweighs the good when it comes to this documentary. I understand that people believe that these mammals should be kept in captivity for educational purposes but I can’t help but look at that whales, ripped from the families, forced to perform and harming trainers as anything but barbaric.

You may or may not agree with me, you can say that these are just animals and we should worry about humans more and I do agree but I don’t see why animals have to suffer at the hands of humans and we should be okay with it because it’s entertaining. Please tell me your thoughts and if you do agree with me, please sign this petition Release the Whales. I have no romantic ideas that everyone will sign this and suddenly the whales will be free but it is start.