We’ve all been subjected to the magic of SeaWorld and similar sea creature theme parks around the world, the animals moving along peacefully with their trainers, who seem to be their greatest companion—a friend. We’re lead to believe it’s just an amazing world where a human and a killer whale can perform in harmony. No one considers even for a split second that these mammals are capable of killing viciously.
Blackfish is a disturbing, yet incredibly moving documentary that captures what exactly goes on behind the doors of these water works extravaganzas. We see how these animals are taken from their loved ones, how they go from swimming hundreds of miles a day in what seems to be an infinite ocean, to a dark box the size of your living room. We see the loneliness these unusually social creatures must endure, until that moment when they finally just snap.
The film opens with the real 911 phone call audio, when the body of one of Sea World’s most renowned trainers, Dawn Brancheau, was discovered floating lifeless in the water after being mutilated by the notorious Tilikum, one of the largest known killer whales in captivity—a spectacle in the eyes of millions. The film investigates how and why this attack occurred, along with countless others, including the deaths of three different trainers all by Tilikum. Blackfish presents a compilation of interviews with experts and former trainers who went in believing one thing and came out sadly disillusioned, with never before seen footage of the attacks that so often happen within the captive waters. You don’t have to be a member of PETA to realize there is something totally wrong here.
It’s heartbreaking to see the mistreatment of these animals, but terrifying at the same time. We are completely naïve to assume these 8,000 pound animals aren’t a threat to us considering the conditions of their captivity—that they’re going to just happily roll in circles, wave their fins, and call it a day at the office. These poor whales are full of life, just like us, but we just see them as silly little clowns. We’re going to look back on this 20 years from now, and wonder what we were thinking. They’re stir-crazy, they’re angry, and these self-aware creatures are about to bitch-slap someone. You can take the whale out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the whale, girlfriend.
Blackfish isn’t widely released, but if it comes around your area, I highly recommend this highly informative piece.