‘Blackfish’ Review (Eye Opening)

by on January 3, 2014

in Entertainment, movie reviews

'Blackfish' film review

The documentary Blackfish starts out with a 911 call that ends with “A whale ate one of the trainers.“  Then they show us a quick snippet of SeaWorld’s TV ad “Do you believe,” showing whales floating through the air.  How majestic.  How cute.  How seemingly misleading.

When I was young I went and saw some shows at SeaWorld and they impacted me emotionally.  Between the great music and the cool trainer interactions with the seals and whales, I was moved.

So I get the sway the animal shows have over folks.  It’s touching.

But then Blackfish starts with that 911 call, then we see trainers talking about their training for working with Shamu.  The official spin is how the staff go through thousands of training hours to work with the Orcas.  But then we hear a trainer say the actual training is if one can swim well and get along with the fish.

All the while I can’t help but think that it’s awesome to watch these folks work with these giants of nature.  These giants that have been trained to do parlor tricks in tiny bodies of water with and for humans.  Trapped in their captive conditions with nothing natural to do.

Then we’re shown Dawn Brancheau, the trainer who everyone looked up to and respected for her years of experience and she loved working with the whales.

Up until when she was killed on Feb 24, 2010 by a whale named Tilikum.  Initial reports from SeaWorld (SW) painted it as an accident on her part.  But later, video seems to show otherwise.

1970 Pugent Sound – we get to watch how the killer whales  are corralled by bombs, other noise making processes and whooping hunters as they herd the mothers and new born whales  into a cove, then circle them with nets and pull out the young orcas.

These are SeaWorld hunters, destroying family pods and in the process, some whales are somehow accidentally killed.  Those, they put rocks on their tails and sink them.

We’re told how the whales in captivity are punished when they don’t perform their trucks properly.  How they’re kept in the early years, in 20×30 foot pools.  We’re shown Sealand of the Pacific, where visitors say it’s three whales in a swimming pool.  We hear a lot of ex-trainers that seem to have different perspectives from the official spin from SeaWorld on various situations.

Blackfish - wails of orca grief

We hear about how the captive mother whales, being separated from their babies, spend hours crying in the water.  Or making never-before-heard vocals.  Turns out the mother whales were pumping out long-range vocals.  A sound their baby could hear miles away, and return to their mother.  If the baby would ever become lost at sea.

We then are shown how the trainers, “teaching” the public, are so incorrect in various “factual” presentations.  We’re shown how the captive whales tend to attack and shred each other in captivity.

We hear about Tilikum, who has been involved in three human deaths, has his sperm farmed and accounting for over 50% of SeaWorld’s born Orcas.  As they put it, it’s like breeding a known aggressive dog, ignoring the tendencies of the parent.

Blackfish shows one account after another of accidents and questionable whale handling.  A judge has ruled that trainers should stay separated from the whales, SeaWorld has contested that ruling. The movie reports that SeaWorld has had around 70 trainer accidents over the years.

Blackfish - Tilimuk's flippy dorsal is not normal

Have you noticed the floppy dorsal fin?  They have footage of staffers saying that’s normal, but in truth, it only happens to less than 1% of the wild Orca population.

The bottom line is that there’s a belief that the fish are going crazy being kept in captivity in spaces way too small compared to where they belong.

After watching Blackfish, I’m reminded of the dark side of the horse racing industry and now, after watching this film from Gabriela Cowperthwaite, I’m stunned.  Speechless.

After seeing the film, I understand why entertainment groups are backing out of performance events at SeaWorld. (Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride, Heart, Cheap Trick, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, and REO Speedwagon.)


I get why the people on the Rose Parade float needed police protection… though I don’t understand why, after all the press, the SeaWorld float was still allowed in the parade.

They don’t mention it in the movie, (or I missed it being shocked), but they have 23 Orca whales in U.S. locations.  There have been 37 Orca deaths over the years.


And then there’s this most recent piece of news, where it seems that SeaWorld was caught spiking an online survey about fans perceptions about their park after seeing Blackfish.  Wow?  {huffingtonpost.}


Here’s a curious resource, Incidents at SeaWorld Parks. (A Wikipedia link)

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BLACKFISH, rent or own on Amazon:  Blackfish offerings

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thomas Watson July 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

These extremists are not pro-animal. If animals in the wild are injured, killed by their companions or go extinct, they actually don’t give a flying fig. And if humans can never enjoy contact with animals again, they will have fulfilled their misanthropist mission.

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