500 Days Of Film Reviews Blackfish And Won’t Be Visiting Seaworld Again

On 24th February 2010, experienced Seaworld senior trainer, Dawn Brancheau, was killed after being dragged into the water by a killer whale called Tilikum.

Her tragic death was made even more shocking when it was revealed that Tilikum had killed before.   

Blackfish is a shocking and truly heartbreaking documentary looking at what happened to Dawn and asking why Tilikum acted as he did that day. 

Talking to killer whale experts and ex-Seaworld trainers, the film also examines the ethics behind keeping such wonderful and highly intelligent creatures in captivity.

Is It Any Good?

Blackfish gives me chills from the very moment it starts. This is a film that knows the story it wants to tell and it doesn’t mess around. By the end, I felt heartbroken, guilty and angry. 

And I knew that I wouldn’t be going back to Seaworld.

I actually feel a bit sick when I think about the times I have visited Seaworld. The first two occasions were when I was a child and I didn’t understand the implications behind the shows that I was watching. 

The third time I remember being a little more savvy and looking around the back of the famous Shamu stadium to see the area where the killer whales lived. Perhaps stupidly, I thought that (given the amount of space that seemed available) the whales would have a massive living and exercising pool. 

When I realised how wrong I was, I felt extremely uneasy. 

Back then, the trainers were still allowed to swim and perform in the water with the killer whales. And the show was spectacular. The entire experience felt so special that it moved me to tears.

The fourth time that I visited Seaworld, I should have known better.

I went because I loved the park and I wanted to take my kids there and I just couldn’t believe that a place that seemed based on conservation could actually be cruel and manipulative.

From what I know now, having watched Blackfish (and read other reports) I would never go back.

These amazing creatures are so intelligent and form such complex emotional bonds that it is no wonder that they go mad when they are cruelly separated from their loved ones and forced to live in such cramped conditions.

The fact that Seaworld gives its somewhat naive trainers misinformation to feed the public really angers me. I remember a trainer telling me that killer whales live much longer in captivity than they do in the wild because of how well they are looked after and fed. 

The reverse is, in fact, true.

I hope that, in time, Seaworld will (or will be forced) to change and that more people will realise that keeping killer whales in captivity is just not acceptable.

Random Observations

As a journalist, I am always skeptical when I feel I am being told just one side of a story. I did wonder, while watching Blackfish, if there could possibly be another side that I was missing - Seaworld’s side. 

This is why I did some added research after watching the film.

However, I just don’t think that there is any argument for keeping killer whales in captivity. I believe that Seaworld should be forced to stop its breeding programme and focus on ways to give these magnificent creatures better living conditions. 

Have you seen Blackfish? What did you think? Do let me know in the comments section below.

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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