It’s time for another documentary. A documentary of which I thought: ‘I have to share this, people have to know about this!’. And then I forgot because I have so much I want to write about. But a while back something happened which brought me tears and then I gave this post priority. And so it’s finally here: a must watch post about Blackfish.
Sometimes I watch documentaries without watching a trailer of seeing what it’s about. This was such a documentary. I knew it wasn’t about sustainability (most documentaries I’ve seen so far concern sustainability), but it was often recommended to me. I had to see it. Since I wasn’t prepared the shock was even more severe.
I hear you think: ‘Romee, now tell me what’s this about!’. Blackfish is a documentary about SeaWorld. Or maybe about the main character within SeaWorld: Tilikum. Tilikum is an orca. The main line of the documentary is about Tilikum and around that is the story of SeaWorld (you see how it started as SeaLand and you should really search for videos of it, it is the tiniest thing ever). I cried multiple times during this documentary, it is pure terror.
Tilikum was haunted down in the ocean nearby Iceland, captured and then brought to Sealand in 1983. That footage is in the documentary and it is something I will never forget. An orca family disrupted and torn apart while the baby (Tilikum) is stolen. And that baby orca then has to spend its entire life in a tank just for the entertainment of people. It is truly horrendous. This obviously drives Tilikum (like any other animal in captivity) insane and he was involved in three deaths of people working at SeaWorld. One trainer died after something happened during a show, an intruder who sneaked in at night was killed and another trainer was killed just after a show.
I’m not surprised at all and it shows how insane it is to keep an orca in a tank. Of course it’ll get frustrated and kills. One dangerous moment is also shared in the documentary, footage of a trainer who is held under water by an orca for a very long time. After all three deaths Tilikum stayed and performing in the shows.
A lot of information in the documentary is told by SeaWorld’s ex-trainers. These are people who think they’re doing a good thing and helping the animals. But after a while they find out the horrendous truth. And besides the aggressive behavior from the orcas towards people, they also show aggressive behavior towards other orcas (I mean, if I was in a bath tub with other people all my life …) and self-harm. Orcas also live a shorter life in captivity (like most animals in captivity). These orcas are kept in tiny tanks (compared to the ocean where they should be) just for our entertainment. There is nothing educational about it. And I don’t find it fun either, I tear up when I see it.
‘If you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don’t you think you’d get a little irritated, maybe a little psychotic?’Jane Velez-Mitchell
Death of Tilikum
The thing that I wrote about in the first few sentences of this post which got me in tears is that Tilikum has died. It is such an incredible sad story. This orca had to spend almost his entire life in a tank. I had hoped for his freedom one day because activists are fighting for the freedom of animals. But maybe this is freedom too in a way. Anything is better than that sickening tank. May he rest in peace.
In 2016 SeaWorld decided to stop breeding orcas. Before they did it as much as they could to make money. Tilikum for example is the father of 21 orcas. Of those only 10 were still alive when Tilikum died. Anyhow, the breeding has stopped for orcas. That’s a good thing! But for the orcas who are now still in SeaWorld it means nothing, they will suffer until they die. And also, SeaWorld only stopped breeding orcas. They still breed dolphins and other animals. If you want to know more about that I’d suggest you also watch ‘The Cove‘.
Since the documentary Blackfish (which can be seen on Netflix) has been released the visitor numbers in SeaWorld have declined. I am happy with that, but the only solution is for it to close down. Zoos, dolphinaria’s, circuses, they should all close down. One thing is for sure: I will never set food in a SeaWorld or any other dolphinaria. If you see me there, I am protesting against it from the outside.
Read more about Blackfish here.