Film Review: “Blackfish” by Eliseo Gonzalez c/o 14

HOUSTON_”Blackfish” is a documentary that informs the general public about the very beginnings of marine mammals in the entertainment industry. It raises legal, moral, and ethical concerns on whether Sea World is taking enough safety precautions to keep their employees safe and whether Sea World parks is providing enough resources that Killer Whales would otherwise have in their natural habitat.

Everything started 20 years ago, when this man named John Crowe captured whales as a living. Crowe says he and his colleagues were after the small ones because shipping cost was less expensive. Crowe recalls the whales reaction, he says that the whales started communicating amongst one another and that they made long sounds he had never heard before “that’s when you understand what you’re doing… it’s like kidnapping a little kid from his mother.”

After, the whales were sent to Sea land of the Pacific an entertainment theme park. Tilikum a 4 year old killer whale along with two other females were kept here for entertainment purposes and their living conditions were not accommodated for animals their size. At night they were confined in a 20×30 medal pool called a module. This prevented the whales from escaping or people releasing them back into the ocean. The module was not too comfortable for the whales the whales were immobile and often times the 2 females raked Tilikum. The next morning trainers would find bite marks all over his body. Ken Balcomb Director of the Center for Whale Research says that these events might have led Tilikum to develop a psychosis.

After an incident at Sealand of the Pacific occurred they decided to sale him to Sea World. Sea World was unaware of the incident which involved a trainer that was attacked by Tilikum much more Sea World didn’t care they only wanted him for breeding purposes. This is how Tilikum was introduced into the entertainment industry. The documentary also uncovers many more incidents that have occurred at Sea World over the course of time. A recent fatal incident involves a 26 year old animal trainer Dawn Brancheau whom was attacked by Tilikum in 2010.

Most of the documentary contains interviews by people who were there at the time of the incidents. Contributions are also made by the former trainers who oppose Killer Whales in captivity. Former trainers expose Sea World training tactics and improper work etiquette .OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has already filed a lawsuit against Sea World and has made a statement that entering a Killer Whale’s habitat is inherently dangerous because you cannot predict the outcome of being in their habitat. On May 30, 2012 Judge Ken Welsch issued a ruling on OSHA vs. SeaWorld and during shows, SeaWorld trainers must now remain behind barriers from the orcas.

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