In the last 24 hours, I’ve been blowing up my Twitter and Facebook with my reactions to the documentary “Blackfish.” To be honest, I don’t even really know why I watched it in the first place. A few people had mentioned it on Twitter, and I didn’t even know what it was about, so I googled it. Then, after reading that it was about a whale that has killed people, I became even more curious and rented it on iTunes.
I didn’t realize that this film was about SeaWorld, and what it revealed left me speechless. I actually then watched it for a 2nd time with my husband right after I had finished it. Growing up, I distinctly remember visiting SeaWorld. I also remember saying that I wanted to be a marine biologist, because I assumed that was the credentials needed to swim with dolphins and whales. Obviously that career path never stuck, but that could be why this film sparked my interest. I think the most important thing that I can say about this documentary, is that our ignorance is not a valid excuse. What did I think about SeaWorld prior to watching this movie? That their whales were saved, not captured. I assumed they were found on the beach with health problems, and SeaWorld took them in and cared for them. False. All of it. I want to sit here and list off all of the horror that was talked about in this film, but I’m not going to, because I want you to watch it. Ultimately, the fact that SeaWorld has appealed the ruling by OSHA that they can’t have people in the water with the whales, is completely mind blowing. Tilikum, the whale that took the life of a trainer in 2010 (by brutally attacking her, not accidental drowning as SeaWorld likes to say), has been involved with the death of 3 people in the last 20 years. Another whale at a park in Spain brutally killed his trainer unexpectedly (a whale that SeaWorld actually owns, but claimed in court to have no affiliation at all). There was another incident that was particularly startling, that involved a trainer who almost drowned, because the whale pulled him to the bottom of the tank repeatedly for over 9 minutes. He’d come up, and ventilate, trying to get in air, and the whale would pull him back to the bottom of the tank again. It was a miracle that he was able to escape, before the whale tried to grab him again (and because I want you to watch the documentary so badly, I found the 15 minutes YouTube clip of this poor guy being held underwater). While it sounds like the whales are the predators, they have been treated so poorly, its not hard to connect the dots here. They aren’t supposed to be circus animals, and their unpredictable behavior can be attributed to their life in captivity. But the fact that SeaWorld wants to keep putting humans in the water with these whales, after so many incidents have occurred, it is clear that their motive is money. They can capture the hearts of little children, just like they did mine, by having these massive whales do tricks in a giant pool.
I felt this overwhelming call to action after I finished it, and realized that there isn’t very much that I can do personally. I’d love to go stand outside of SeaWorld protesting, but I live in Salt Lake City. The thought did cross my mind, though.
Practically, there are two things that I can do:
I can not support SeaWorld by not visiting their parks. Done. After seeing that movie, I can’t in good conscience even consider visiting SeaWorld. And, I do not want my daughter to think that this is ‘normal’ or ‘moral.’
I can tell everyone I know to watch this movie so that they will do the same.
Please watch it before you plan your next vacation to California, Florida, or Texas. Also, send a message to Macy’s, asking them not to allow the SeaWorld float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It features a giant image of “Shamu,” and in light of the conversation that this documentary has generated since it aired on CNN last week, you’d think that Macy’s would do the right thing here? Maybe, not.
Lastly, I shared this image on Facebook that I came across while I was doing my post-Blackfish research. I was honestly up half the night reading about all of this, and just couldn’t stop. It’s a really sad look at what has happened to all of these animals in captivity, and grossly wrong that SeaWorld keeps claiming that their better off with them because they are receiving “proper veterinary care.”