Documentary Blackfish

Animals should be protected while living in freedom as well. How do we go about this? It’s harder than it seems.

If you want to take a closer look at this conundrum, examine the latest controversial film and movement.

The movie Blackfish exposes the truth of Sea World. Let’s face facts, it exposes a great deal of what society is doing with animals- a captive 32-year old Orca named Tilikum, to be exact. Tilikum was taken from his family and home around the age of 2 and brought to Sea World to perform. When this happened, matriarchal bonds were broken between him and mother. After 20 years of this lifestyle, filled with a lack of emotional stimulation, confinement and isolation, Tilikum has killed three people and injured many more.

Director Gabriella Cowperthwaite created the startling documentary, Blackfish. The film documents interviews, footage and testimonies from experts showing the truth of captivity.

In an interview in the New York Times, Cowperthwaite said she approached the film with an open mind. Although Sea World declined an interview, former employees decided to shed light on the Orca situation.

Footage, used with hidden cameras, recorded Sea World trainers lying about the killer whales’ lifespans and why their fins collapse. Apparently, during interviews, Cowperthwaite discovered the Orca’s lifespan is shortened by the inability to form social connections with other Orcas in the wild. In the wild, female Orcas can live up to 90 years while males can live around 70 years. In captivity the numbers are drastically reduced with most Orcas living only into their teens or 20s. This is a damning discovery all in its own.



As far as the collapsed fins are concerned, the utilization of small tanks only allow the Orca to swim in cramped spaces. In captivity, Orcas swim in circles while performing and spend the rest of their time motionless in tanks the size of bathtubs. It is believed that it takes speed for the fins to stand erect, and speed is something that cannot be reached at full potential inside tanks and pools. Swimming distance is also compromised. In their natural environment, Orcas swim up to 100 miles a day. In captivity, swimming is replaced by performance and lock down. This is horrendous!

The irony of the anti-captivity movement is strong, however. Although freedom for the Orcas is compromised, Sea World changed the view of killer whales and gave society a look at the tender side of the animal. It was through captivity that society learned how harmful captivity can be. Captivity produces behavior that’s absent in the Orca’s natural environment. With this being said, while examining the numerous reports of attacks, it’s clear that the Orcas are not happy in their surroundings.

Currently, there is a pledge to save Orca’s lives. Freedom of Killer whales may give them the chance to return to their natural way of life and lose hostility toward humans. After all, freedom equals happiness!

By Sherrie H.