Tilikum. Surely, you’ve heard of him, right? Probably, the most infamous orca that ever existed, this SeaWorld star has been blamed for the deaths of three people over a span of nineteen years—two of them “killer whale” trainers. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has combined harrowing real-life footage with eye-opening interviews(from former oceanarium employees)to create a marvelously compelling expose. And, after watching it, the first thing you may think is “can you blame him?”. This documentary will certainly give any reasonable human being pause concerning visiting and supporting one of these marine life parks. And for that reason primarily, of course, SeaWorld Entertainment despises the very existence of this production. In an official response, the company has labeled “Blackfish”, “inaccurate”, “misleading” and exploitative. However, it will probably provoke you to wonder “do these highly intelligent swimming mammals belong in captivity for the sole purpose of entertaining vacationing tourists?”. I’m certainly convinced that the life these gorgeous creatures are forced to endure is confining and abusive. Is the argument of this documentary as one-sided as SeaWorld claims? Yeah, I guess it is. But you’ll be hard-pressed to contemplate how the “other side” could possibly have an equally effective response. The aggression of Tilikum will be perfectly understandable after the brisk 83 minutes of “Blackfish”. What will be much less justifiable is ever again being of clear conscience to be splashed by a leaping killer whale—before heading to the gift shop to purchase a plush, stuffed “Shamu”. The case is that strong.     Grade:  A-


4 comments on “Blackfish

  1. Mark,

    I haven’t seen Blackfish; however, Bob & I went to SeaWorld recently and I felt bad because they had ONE polar bear.  I don’t believe there are other polar bears there because one of the servers in the restaurant mentioned they had only  one polar bear.  Really felt sorry for it because everyone should have a companion so I didn’t feel it was right to keep him there.  Can’t say how I feel about the whale and dolphins.  Their shows were really great.

    When Bob & I went to Las Vegas in September 2000, we saw Seigfried and Roy and that show was really amazing.  We sat at a table and the seats we had were right next to the stage where Seigfried and Roy entered with some of the tigers.  They were so close to us, we could have touched them.  Their show was really great too.  We went to Seigfried and Roy’s animal sanctuary and it appeared that the animals are well taken of, so I guess if the animals and loved and appear to be happy, I don’t have a problem with it.


    • Thanks for commenting, Cilla. I would suggest that you seek out “Blackfish” and get a sampling of what these former SeaWorld trainers are saying. Although the trainers were unanimous in their claims of treating the animals well, they also lamented some of the conditions they are housed in as well as the unpredictability of the orcas’ moods. These animals are so large and powerful that a human doesn’t stand a chance if a whale gets aggressive. ML

  2. Very timely for Australia given that a tiger attacked at the Melbourne Zoo this past week!

    • Wow…I just googled it Simon. Scary. These animals are so incredibly strong and unpredictable. It’s made very clear in “Blackfish”—there’s not much anyone can do to help, if an orca decides to pull a trainer underwater and drown them. And Tilikum has done it more than once. ML

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