‘Blackfish’ only shows dark side of Sea World

January 30, 2014
People have criticized Sea World after the documentary “Blackfish” came out, and artists such as Pat Benatar and Willie Nelson have gone so far as to cancel shows at the theme parks. – Associated Press

People have criticized Sea World after the documentary “Blackfish” came out, and artists such as Pat Benatar and Willie Nelson have gone so far as to cancel shows at the theme parks. – Associated Press


Hannah Schilling
Managing Editor


A Sea World trainer being attacked by a whale is the shocking image shown in the opening credits of the 2013 documentary film “Blackfish.”


The sites shown and the stories told by the former Orca trainers only get more shocking.


The documentary, which has been a talking point amongst students, Sea World atendees and even the media, is coming out of Sundance Film Festival traces a 39-year history of Orcas in captivity, leading up to the 2010 killing of trainer Dawn Brancheau by Tilikum, a whale also associated with the deaths of two other people.


Viewers are shown multiple instances of Orca aggression toward the trainers, such as Orcas lunging at trainers and, in the most severe cases, killing them.


The former trainers tell viewers that whale-on-whale aggression is common and show bloody wounds to prove it.


Scientists explain that Orcas have an extra brain part that processes emotion, and the documentary shows baby Orcas being taken away from their mother while their mother makes noises never before heard to humans out of grief.


Viewers are told that the whales are kept in dark, shallow pools during the night, where they spend 1/3 of their life deprived of their senses. Sea World workers are shown in the movie spouting off inaccurate facts to patrons make it seem like the whales are better off in captivity.


“Blackfish” has led artists and bands like Willie Nelson and Pat Benatar to cancel shows at Sea World and has even led schools to cancel field trips to the park.


Sea World refused to comment during the making of the film but has since broken their silence, along with several other former trainers.


Sea World ran an ad in several national newspapers and also posted the information on its website, saying it has not captured Orcas from the wild for 35 years due to their scientific advancement.


The ad also claimed that Sea World does not separate babies from mothers except for “the rare occasion that a mother killer whale cannot care for the calf herself,” and that their whales do not suffer shortened lifespans.


Sea World claims its work has helped advance scientific understanding of killer whales in the wild, and said it has spent $70 million in recent years on habitats, which it calls “among the largest in the world today.”


But according to the film, and the audience who now stands with it, even the largest Sea World habitat cannot compare to the ocean the whales are meant to dwell in.


Though the movie shows the dark side of Sea World, the more positive side has gone unseen.


Kyle Kittleson, a Sea World trainer who left his job this month, made a video in response to “Blackfish,” claiming that the whales have incredible care and have amazing relationships with their trainers. He said he would never have described a whale he has worked with as sad or angry.


“A lot of those trainers worked decades ago, so their experience was different than mine,” he said. “Some trainers parted ways in not the best of way, and if you are a former employee, and are angry with your former employer, you would agree to do the documentary.”


As for putting the whales in an open-water pen, Kittleson said it would be very detrimental and stressful to the Orcas because they are used to the perfect amount of food, the perfect water quality at the perfect temperature, and in an open ocean pen that all changes and they are put at risk.


“People need to stop and think about what is best for the animals, not what would make them feel good and help them sleep at night,” he said. “‘Blackfish’ is meant to make you feel, not to make you think. Eighty-five percent of it is false.”


Email comments to hms017@latech.edu.


One Response to ‘Blackfish’ only shows dark side of Sea World

  1. Concerned and Annoyed Reply

    January 31, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    This is all information I read months ago on other news sites. I don’t understand how any of this can be considered an article written by Ms. Schilling. The entire thing is basically a rundown of the movie itself and a few quotes from other media sources. Please, if you’re going into journalism, write an article based on original ideas and quotes you retrieved yourself.

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