National Geographic News
The sign at the entrance to SeaWorld in 2010.

The entrance to SeaWorld Orlando on February 24, 2010 after a female trainer was fatally attacked by an orca.

Photograph by Matt Stroshane, Getty

Tim Zimmermann

for National Geographic with additional reporting from Victor Ocasio in Orlando

Published January 13, 2014

When director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (with my help, as an associate producer and co-writer) set out to make the documentary Blackfish, neither she (nor I) were setting out to change SeaWorld. Instead, we wanted to craft a factual, compelling film that tried to explain why SeaWorld's largest killer whale, Tilikum, killed his highly experienced trainer, Dawn Brancheau, in February 2010.

We were working so hard to pull together the footage, interviews, and research needed to tell a complicated story that we had little time to think about what would happen after the film was finished. Now that the film is in circulation, everyone involved in the production has been both impressed and surprised by the degree to which it has has inspired viewers to speak up about killer whale captivity and take action, in what has informally been dubbed the "Blackfish effect."

"I don't even think I've had time to process it entirely," Cowperthwaite told me recently. Coming from the world of documentary, you're not always sure people will even see your film voluntarily," she said. "So the fact that the film has not only been well received but is also managing to do some work in the world is extraordinary."

Blackfish tells the story of how Tilikum's life tragically intersected with Dawn Brancheau's. Along the way, it goes behind the scenes of SeaWorld's killer whale Shamu shows, offering insights into what killer whale entertainment means for both killer whales and the trainers who work with them. SeaWorld has called the film "shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate," and pushed back against the revelations in Blackfish in e-mails to film critics, op-eds lauding SeaWorld's rescue and conservation work, and full-page newspaper advertisements.

Despite this counter-offensive, the Blackfish effect could get a major boost this week, on January 16, when Academy Award nominations will be announced. The film has been shortlisted for a Best Documentary nomination and a formal nomination would bring it another blast of publicity. Already, Blackfish has been viewed by millions of people in theaters, on CNN, and streaming via iTunes and Netflix. And the images and information in Blackfish (the live captures which started the industry; the physical and social stresses the animals, especially Tilikum, endure; the separation of calves from their mothers; and the aggression that occurs between killer whales and between killer whales and trainers) have surprised and shocked many viewers who have mostly thought of the Shamu show as lighthearted entertainment.

That was enough to start grassroots action against SeaWorld and the killer whale entertainment business, an outburst of public energy that has been extremely gratifying for everyone involved with Blackfish. A film that resonates broadly with the public is the highest sort of honor. But the most important question is: Will the Blackfish effect have a real and long-lasting impact on SeaWorld and the killer whale entertainment business?

Here's what we know so far. The Blackfish effect started with dozens of celebrities tweeting about how Blackfish changed their view of SeaWorld. It includes high school students making videos and raising awareness. And it inspired PETA campaigns against the inclusion of SeaWorld floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the New Year's Day Rose Parade.

Most notable, the Blackfish effect took off on social media, especially through the use of Change.org petitions. Late last year, a Blackfish supporter and animal advocate launched a Change.org petition asking the Barenaked Ladies to reconsider a planned February 2014 SeaWorld gig in light of the revelations in Blackfish. The petition quickly hit 10,000 signatures and, after considering the issue, the band canceled, saying, "This is a complicated issue, and we don't claim to understand all of it, but we don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time."

A barrage of additional Change.org petitions asking other musical acts to cancel concert performances at SeaWorld followed. To date, nine scheduled acts, including Willie Nelson, Tricia Yearwood, Heart, and Cheap Trick have pulled out.

Campaigns targeting SeaWorld's corporate relationships are also an important part of the Blackfish effect. Robin Merritt, a 24-year-old marketing and social media professional, launched a Change.org petition asking Southwest Airlines to end its decades-old partnership with SeaWorld. Last week that petition, signed by more than 27,000 people and accompanied by a protest, was delivered to Southwest at its headquarters in Dallas.

"Southwest has been a cheerleader for SeaWorld for a long time, doing promotions together," Merritt said. "And without partners like Southwest, SeaWorld wouldn't be able to keep separating orca families and using killer whales for entertainment."

Southwest honored Merritt and the petition supporters with a response, saying, "At this time, our partnership will continue." Southwest wasn't unequivocal, however. The statement also said: "We have a longstanding relationship with SeaWorld that is based on travel and bringing families together. We are engaged with SeaWorld related to the recent concerns being raised. We are in a listening and education mode with the goal of upholding our commitments as a good corporate citizen."

Other major SeaWorld corporate partners include Coca-Cola and Hyundai. And according to Change.org there are currently more than two dozen Blackfish-related petitions on the site. More than 2,100 people have signed on to ask Groupon not to work with SeaWorld (and more than 26,000 have signed another petition asking the same thing).

Other citizens fired up by Blackfish (so far, more than 3,800 of them) are even asking Toys "R" Us to stop selling its SeaWorld trainer Barbie. "We consider the Change.org campaigns inspired by Blackfish to be some of the highest impact campaigns in the last few months on our platform, and certainly among the most effective ever on animal protection issues," said Change.org communications manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum.

But, in the end, the real measure of the Blackfish effect is whether it can change the way SeaWorld does business by impacting attendance and revenues. As far as I can tell, on that question, the jury remains out.

For the first nine months of 2013 (just before the Blackfish effect really took off), for example, SeaWorld reported that attendance at its parks declined by 4.7 percent—from 19.9 million to 18.9 million guests—compared to the same period in 2012. (In addition to the three flagship SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, which feature killer whales, SeaWorld also owns nine other amusement parks.) And after an initial pop following its April 2013 debut as a publicly traded company, SeaWorld’s stock is almost 30 percent off its July high, and has been in the doldrums since October.

At the same time, revenues over the first nine months of 2013 were up 2 percent from 2012, giving SeaWorld hope that 2013 could bring record earnings. SeaWorld has said that Blackfish is having zero impact on its business. "As much data as we have and as much as we look, I can't connect anything really between the attention that the film has gotten and any effect on our business,'' SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison recently told the Orlando Sentinel.

Judging from interviews with SeaWorld Orlando guests, however, the Blackfish effect is present at SeaWorld's gates, albeit to different degrees. "We know that a lot of celebrities are rallying behind it, but that's about it," said Ashley Walter, a New Yorker on vacation with her boyfriend, Ryan Weaver.

But for others Blackfish has been thought-provoking. "It made me sad because I personally think that baby whales and all the other animals should be in their natural habitats," said 13-year-old Valentina Mendez, from Colombia, who watched the film a week earlier with her younger brother. Though her father, George, had only seen a small portion of the film with his children, he decided to leave the park with his family earlier than planned, thanks to his daughter's concerns, after they had hit the park's major thrill rides. "The truth is they didn't want to stay in the park for long," he explained.

Still, today SeaWorld said its marine parks saw record attendance levels for October through December (when the Blackfish effect was at full flood) and SeaWorld will report record revenues for 2013 soon.

Ultimately, the true test of the Blackfish effect is whether over time it has any appreciable impact on SeaWorld's bottom line. SeaWorld is a business, and real change will come if and when SeaWorld concludes it will make more money moving away from the killer whale entertainment business than it will trying to continue it. If that happens, Blackfish will have a life beyond the impact it has had on audiences, and the Blackfish effect will have meaning.

Whatever impact the Blackfish effect does (or does not) have on SeaWorld will tell us a lot about the intersection of filmmaking and real-world business. Cowperthwaite, however, believes the debate transcends SeaWorld and whatever political pressures and financial incentives it has to change. "My real hope is that we're starting to learn what we stand to gain by redefining our relationship with other sentient beings," she said. "If we can relate to them with more respect, decency, and understanding, I think that will be more far-reaching and more long lasting than anything SeaWorld does or doesn't do."

83 comments
Jessica Bellamy
Jessica Bellamy

The fact is WE DO NOT have the right to capture animals, of any kind, and demand that they perform for us. It really is that simple. You don't have to argue about whether or not the animal has rights, what you need to think about is what is right and what is wrong, and how would you see the situation from the captives perspective.

Keo Mitchell
Keo Mitchell

I used to go to National Geographic to learn about animals. Doesn't look like that anymore. 

Jordan  Molnar
Jordan Molnar

Tilikum should be released back into his natural habitat. he has killed three people and it is only a matter of time before there is another victim. he has done his part as an entertainer. he kills because he is depressed so let him go.

Jeanne Everard
Jeanne Everard

For those who say that SeAWorld provides a basis for people "caring" about orcas because they see them live in front of them.....answer me this....why do young people everywhere "care" about dinosaurs yet they've ever seen one alive? SeaWorld can EDUCATE without captivity. The movie Blackfish, if nothing else, has started the conversation about dolphins in captivity (including orcas). This is the 21st century. MANYthings we USED to do are no longer considered morally acceptable...and this captivity of large marine beings is NOW being questioned. Hopefully, the TRUE scientific community will prevail NOT the contrived circus acts of SeaWorld.

Samantha King
Samantha King

Yeah....Willie Nelson and Martina McBride cancelled at SeaWorld but always go and play for rodeos and pig out on their BBQ. Such selectivism. Oh is that what the movie is about? What is this article even doing here? This is a place for exploration, science, history, groundbreaking research and discovery. This isn't a movie review center or a place to advertise for a poorly made film (not based on the content itself, but some of the editing and the lack of focus. Loro Parque has nothing to do with Brancheau or Tilikum so that was useless unless they're targeting SeaWorld as a whole which also doesn't add up since they don't mention anything but the orcas. Also, it isn't solely about orca captivity because they didn't mention any other orca holding facility that is WORSE than SeaWorld where orcas need the change NOW, like this male who is ALL BY HIMSELF in a tank that is significantly smaller than any of the ones at SeaWorld, take a look: http://www.ecorazzi.com/2014/02/10/sam-simon-says-kshamenk-is-most-abused-orca-in-the-world/    Blackfish may have had good intentions, but to me it has missed the mark. SeaWorld shouldn't be the first target. They do better at caring for the animals than these other facilities. Either way, unless someone wants to do an article about the actual effects of captivity or anything that's actually scientific, then I say that these advertisements don't belong here. Leave the movies to Rotten Tomatoes. Tell us what really goes on with factual backup, scientific record and comparisons to the ocean. Then I'll take these folks seriously. What are you doing NatGeo??

Leah Tardif
Leah Tardif

Profitizing by means of stealing Orca's WHO DO  have the right to live in the environment in which they were born and live out there life's with there family members and swim the depths and the lengths of there underwater world is nothing short of Evil and should be considered a criminal act. It most certainly is a criminal act in the eyes of God and a ruthless act against nature...

Leslie Diffin
Leslie Diffin

10,000 signatures, Must have been every BareNaked Ladies fan in the world.

Eugene Whocares
Eugene Whocares

Um, yeah... that's nice and all but this is National Geographic right? You could have at least mentioned whether the film really is "scientifically inaccurate". Or am I to expect scientifically acceptable conclusions from the NYT? I mean this isn't a film review website, but this article doesn't have anything else in it...

Christine Alana
Christine Alana

Thank you for creating this informative documentary. When visiting SeaWorld as a kid, I knew it was wrong to keep the whales and marine animals there for entertainment. Not only is it unethical, but trainers are at risk of sustaining an injury or losing their lives everyday. 

PuraKai Clothing
PuraKai Clothing

Thank you for making Blackfish and getting these concepts into the main stream consciousness. However the truth is we need to be careful judging others.  Yes it's true Sea World lied about their business but nearly every business has a negative impact on our eco-system and negatively effects animals in some way. An oil spill nearly destroyed the Gulf and extracting oil has destroyed many indigenous cultures, and we are complicit in that destruction whenever we use gasoline. 


We're all complicit on some level, we concrete and asphalt over what were once bio-diverse habitats that many animals used to call home so we can build our houses, office buildings and drive our cars. What we need is to use the Blackfish Effect to each examine our own consumption and to spend our dollars with the companies that are the least harmful. This will have an effect not only on Sea World but it could be the tipping point that keeps us from being beholden to giant mega-corps that seem intent on destroying the world our future generations will occupy solely for the sake of short term profits. 

Joe Stebbins
Joe Stebbins

The Simple Facts


► $eaworld and all other captive dolphin parks were founded and sustained entirely upon lies


►  The Cove and Blackfish documentaries have educated the general public to the incontrovertible evidence demonstrating the death, torture, murder, kidnapping, rape, humiliation and slavery of Self-Aware Autonomous Beings in captivity


►  Social media has caused news to spread like wildfire; $eaworld et.al. will never be able to put the fires out fast enough again. 


► $eaworld is over. Their CEO knows it; he dumped his stock. The parent company [Blackstone] dumped it [SEAS].


► Consumers are becoming educated to the difference between Self-Aware cognizant social autonomous beings and house pets.


► $eaworld has resorted to using Groupons and manipulating admission statistics to try and maintain the facade. 


► But $eaworld is over. Of that you may be sure. People are becoming educated too quickly now for an organization founded and sustained entirely upon lies to endure. $eaworld is over. 



maria mills
maria mills

Whatever your feelings toward the director of the film are, the bottom line is these are IRRELEVANT. What the documentary brought to us is an ethical dilemma: Should we force these animals to perform tricks? If you are here to discuss whether or not someone mislead someone else then just stop right there and think. Ask yourself the question: do I have the right to force an animal to perform cute tricks? BTW you are forcing the animal because in the natural they don't do these tricks. no matter how much you want to spin it- they simply don't. 

Vickie Lynn Steinhoff
Vickie Lynn Steinhoff

I was young when I went to Sea World yet it did not feel right in my heart then and still does not. I appreciate the hard work and the determination of the makers of the documentary. They were people who had a story to tell and followed through So many of us fall short in that area. I feel so proud of them.

Céilidh Nicholls
Céilidh Nicholls

I truly hope this continues. Blackfish is the best thing to happen to Orcas since man started treating them as the enemy. Things need to change and SeaWorld should be on board if they care about sea mammals.

Michele Jankelow
Michele Jankelow

What ever the outcome of Blackfish on the gate/s of Sea World is irrelevant.  What has taken place is a call to concern!  A call that says enough! Sea World or for that matter any other marine park has no right to remove young orcas and dolphins from the wild for profit!  A new society is out there, one of conscience and this is no longer acceptable.  It may take time to affect the gates and the bottom line, but it will!  Look at what is taking place in Taiji and Iwate and Japan and if you see this one and all, hang your heads in shame! The world looks on in horror and all we can do is observe as these gentle cetaceans are brutally removed for captivity or violently slaughtered!

Say no more!  This is a moral dilemma and a call to help! 

Robin Merritt
Robin Merritt

Great article, Tim! I love the fact that Blackfish is making waves. It gives me hope.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me about my petition. We are almost up to 29,000! Our fight will go one. :)

Tim Zimmermann
Tim Zimmermann

Thanks for all the great comments. Always interesting to dig into the issue of captivity. 


Just want to offer a little background on how I got involved in this issue and my attitude toward SeaWorld. I have been writing about orcas, captivity, and SeaWorld since 2010, after Dawn Brancheau was killed. Prior to that I had never given SeaWorld and killer whale captivity much thought. So when I set out to write an article for Outside magazine (http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/The-Killer-in-the-Pool.html) that tried to explain why Tilikum might have killed Dawn Brancheau I knew very little about conditions at SeaWorld, and the lives of the killer whales there. However, what I learned about killer whales and what captivity means for them obviously affected how I think about SeaWorld and killer whale captivity. Knowing what I know now, I do not believe that keeping killer whales in captivity is right. 


I did not embark on my research and reporting about that topic with that conclusion in mind. I came to it as a result of speaking with many scientists and trainers, and learning more about SeaWorld and killer whale captivity than I ever could have imagined. So it is a fact-based conclusion (though I understand others can have the same information and come to a different conclusion). I suppose I could pretend that knowledge doesn't influence my thinking, and that I have no opinion. But I find that to be an unrealistic model of journalism. Instead, as a journalist, my commitment is to bringing new and accurate information to light, and to giving opposing viewpoints an airing. And that is what I always try to do, even if it does not reflect well on SeaWorld or the idea of using killer whales for profit and entertainment. 


Tim

@Earth_ist

Lara Wilder
Lara Wilder

A person who decides to boycott Seaworld should also boycott zoos where they keep tigers, lions, and other large carnivores who need the same biological needs as those orcas in the tanks: room to travel, a better social environment, etc. Elephants could also be grouped in this category because they too travel long distances, and can be very dangerous in captivity sometimes. Too many people are anthropomorphizing the orca, claiming they need to be freed now, like what was said in Blackfish. I am all for freedom for animals, but this inconsistency in regards to certain species is astounding, and speaks a lot to the propaganda and provocativeness expressed in Blackfish. It is true that many people are uneducated about the issue, and I believe Blackfish took full advantage of that, playing on audience emotion. Regardless of their intelligence, orcas should be treated with the same respect and dignity given to other animals, especially in captivity. Saying the same thing, other animals in captivity should be treated with the same respect and dignity given to orcas. Seaworld, while continuing to house orcas, is responsible for one of the most successful marine mammal rehabilitation programs and they return many animals to the ocean each year. Advocating for a discontinuation of orcas at Seaworld parks can be a priority but taking away all of their funding??

Peter Hamilton
Peter Hamilton

After the death of a whale trainer in the early 90s, activist Peter Hamilton obtained photographic evidence of the abuse of three orcas at Sealand of the Pacific, Victoria. During a covert operation Lifeforce obtained footage of the secret “holding module”. This “prison” was only approximately 25’ x 30’ x 12’. The orcas were locked up every night. They suffered physically and psychologically. Following the Sealand trainer death, the orcas were sold to Sea World.Lifeforce warn them to not put any one in the pool with Tilikum. He later killed two others. The crux of this captivity issue is that the imprisonment at Sealand led to the deaths.

This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals. There has been the deaths of at least 39 cetaceans resulting from the Vancouver Aquarium imprisonment alone. (As of August 2012 at least 9 orcas, 7 narwhals, 10 Belugas, and 13 Pacific white-sided dolphins have died. They also “loan” belugas to Sea World).

Read the Blackfish “Take Action” that includes Lifeforce campaigns to stop captivity at http://blackfishmovie.com/Take-Action

Kirk McVittie
Kirk McVittie

I would like to see this film.  We have to do better, right? 

Elisha Hilleary
Elisha Hilleary

I know I watched the film Blackfish and it was very eye opening. I've been telling all my family and friends to watch it also. I know my family and I will never visit another SeaWorld park ever again.

Bryan Geonzon
Bryan Geonzon

Strange how the video that Bradley Bergman that wants everyone to watch has the comment disabled. Someone doesn't want any criticism. 

Jessica Bellamy
Jessica Bellamy

To be fair this is learning about animals, you can't have all the facts if you ignore the transgressions of others. Animal welfare is important.

Carolyn Green
Carolyn Green

No offense, but releasing Tilikum would be a death sentence at this point. The orca has been been in captivity for 30 years, since he was only two. It is true that it's a matter of time before another incident occurs; his current living conditions and habitat need preventative action. But saying that he needs to be released into the wild is a purely uneducated and naive statement, as he will have no way of fending for himself after relying on human care for almost his entire life.

Go Home
Go Home

@Leah Tardif  Pure drivel. Animals AREN'T people and they don't have "rights". 

Go Home
Go Home

@Christine Alana  And if no one sees the animals, they won't care about preserving them. Unethical...pfff

Keo Mitchell
Keo Mitchell

@maria mills They aren't forced to do anything. If you bothered to actually get out of your computer chair and research through experience and your own investigational skills you will find that the whales perform behaviors completely on their own volition. As a previous employee who worked around orcas at Seaworld I can vouch that sometimes the whales did not want to perform. When this happened we'd do a show hold and trainers would monitor the whales until they are ready to continue. Another thing as well, these behaviors are natural for the whales and have only been positively reinforced. It is a very long process and is the same used when training a dog with positive reinforcement.   

Keo Mitchell
Keo Mitchell

@Céilidh Nicholls They are, Seaworld just donated 10 million dollars toward Research and Conservation. What has CNN and Blackfish producers donated in regards to animal conservation in result of this documentary? Nothing, if they were really out for the well being of whales and animal conservation all profits, that is after production cost of the movie had been paid off,  should have been donated to an animal conservation organization.

Keo Mitchell
Keo Mitchell

@Tim Zimmermann No, just no. Scientific journalism should only give us the facts and not someone's opinion. It is to stimulate the readers into coming to their own decision without the influence of the writer. If someone comes to the conclusion that they don't like Seaworld based off the article's objective facts then so be it. You, as a journalist, should not have influence over reader's decisions. That is the problem with media in general.

Joe Stebbins
Joe Stebbins

@Lara Wilder Also, please Google


"self aware beings"  |  "cognizant behavior"  |  "non human persons"


There are no more gray areas. Dolphin, Apes, Chimps and Elephants are all self-aware and highly cognizant to the point of autonomy. 


All other animals can (and should) be protected with local criminal laws for animal cruelty.


Please spend a few minutes and learn the difference.

Rachel Baxter
Rachel Baxter

@Lara Wilder Lara, you are incorrect here. "Lions, tigers, and other large carnivores" do not necessarily have the same biological needs as orcas. And it's not that they need a better social environment--they are extremely social beings in a way that is far more detrimental than any other animal. I do agree that other animals should be added to the captivity debate, but that must be left up to scientists, researchers, etc who have familiarity and understanding of those types of animals to bring those issues to the forefront. Killer whales are at the center of the debate right now because of the well-publicized deaths (at least the latter two by Tilikum) that occurred at Sea World and the fact that a well-funded, well-publicized documentary was made about them.  It's a reflection of what moves the general public. The killer whales got lucky here because 2 investors with money and a desire to back a film was moved by the Blackfish story and decided to jump in.


There can't be a documentary that covers the debate for all animals. I believe Blackfish went beyond anthropomorphizing killer whales. It wasn't all about how they perceive killer whales to feel. It was about the unique danger they pose to humans in environments such as Sea World as well as the aggression exhibited amongst the animals themselves that results from being in close proximity to whales of a different cultures and species. If you research beyond Blackfish you will learn about the difference between Northern Resident, Southern Resident, and Transient killer whales--how they have different languages with little to no overlap and even different genes. In the wild they don't even interact with different cultures/species. They  stay away but when in close proximity within the confines of a pool, they have no choice but to interact and often that can lead to aggression. Blackfish also touched on the separation of calves from their mothers that appears to be traumatic for them--based on their behaviors upon separation and the fact that in the wild they never leave their families. 


Additionally, you tout Sea World as "one of the most successful marine mammal rehabilitation programs" and state that "they return many animals to the ocean each year." They don't return killer whales to the ocean each year and actively oppose it in fact. Let's also remember that the killer whales in Sea World's "collection" were not captured for rehabilitation purposes. They were captured to be performance animals. Even after a court order banning them from taking whales from Washington, they moved on to capture whales in Iceland and other areas and tried to cover it up. I encourage you to watch "A Whale of a Business" done by PBS. Sea World executives lie about that fact on camera and then when presented with documents showing otherwise, they feigned ignorance of how their own names and Sea World's name ended up on the documents. I encourage people on both sides of the debate to go beyond this one documentary and research more into it. It's impossible to get the full set of facts in any one documentary. Films are limited by both time and money.

Ani MuX
Ani MuX

@Lara Wilder -- utter nonsense. Try responding to the article without a straw man argument.


First of all, many people who protest against Sea World also protest against zoos, circuses (a more accurate comparison), and even animal cruelty in agriculture. Regardless, they don't have to bring all of that up every time one makes a complaint about SeaWorld.


Second, SeaWorld anthropomorphizes orcas -- describing them as "happy" to crowds of onlookers, for example. However, the objections to keeping orcas in captivity are not limited to perceptions about how the animals might feel. There is a reason why SeaWorld does not tell every guest just how many orcas and dolphins have actually died in captivity. Not to mention the human deaths which are the subject of the documentary film. Blackfish addresses the details of these deaths including the very real possibility that industry practices directly resulted in human deaths. There was apparently enough evidence for OSHA to determine SeaWorld's practices were responsible and win the argument in court -- or did you forget that trainer deaths have been addressed in a court of law prior to the documentary? Are you next going to assert that everyone involved in the court case against SeaWorld is 'emotional'? Nonsense.


Finally, it's important to point out that SeaWorld is not a charity. The company does not invest the majority of its earnings into 'rescue' operations. In fact, the amount is quite small compared with annual profits and the 'rehabilitation' efforts are also an investment to acquire new animals because wild captures are otherwise illegal. Of course, SeaWorld also invests in wild captures from other countries which don't have laws protecting marine mammals -- like the belugas captured in Russia which SeaWorld and other aquariums have attempted to import into the USA -- captured, not rescued. The industry that profits from the captivity and display of cetaceans also funds the slaughter of dolphins in places like Taiji, Japan and the Solomon Islands.


So in future replies, try to stay on topic and address actual objections to SeaWorld instead of engaging in logical fallacies by inventing and substituting your own weak arguments as if they represent critics of captivity. Blackfish presents a great deal of factual evidence in interviews, court records, historical reference, and of course video recordings of orca attacks on human beings in aquariums.

Theresa Pugh
Theresa Pugh

@Bryan Geonzon Go to any blog that pertains to $eaworld Micechat, et al.  They will either ban you, disable your comments or attack you.  

Bradley Bergman
Bradley Bergman

@Bryan Geonzon They had to because of all the crazy activist and threats.. There is to many out there that are extreamist.. 

Jessica Bellamy
Jessica Bellamy

@GoHome Technically your right, but what a shameful way to look at it.

Nisha Malhotra
Nisha Malhotra

@Go Home Hello, yes, it's true that animals may  not have many rights at this time, but scientific evidence has shown (and not only in the Blackfish documentary) that animals like orcas are especially sentient beings, have a sense of self, can feel pain (amongst other things), experience emotion, and social interaction.  The true thing to focus on at this time is not debating whether or not what SeaWorld and other marine parks is ethical, but rather focusing on the task of ensuring that taking animals out of their natural habitat does not happen again.  Animals may not have all their rights now, but there are many campaigns and organizations (like PETA) that wish to install animal rights.  It is important to understand that animals need to be treated with respect as a living beings, not expendable entertainment.  If we can help animals from being captured and made to live their lives in captivity, or raised in an unethical, brutal way, then we can live knowing we have done something good.  Animals are not here for humans to take and use and kill and throw away at our will.  

Stephanie Deyling
Stephanie Deyling

@Rachel Baxter @Lara Wilder Many years ago there was a place in So. Cal.(Palos Verdes) called Marineland. They had the only breeding pairs or Orcas at the time and Seaworld WANTED them badly.  Marineland refused to sell them. So Seaworld went in the back door determined to get the Orcas one way or another and pursued buying Marineland.  The residents of Palos Verdes objected and protested vigorously. against the sale which was temporarily blocked. Seaworld promised the people they would NOT shut Marineland down but would continue it as before.  The sale went through. Within months, Seaworld broke their promise ,closed the park and transported all the animals to San Diego. Actually- they tried to move the animals but unfortunately many of them did not survive the transfer (As was predicted by the Marineland vets,and caretakers). Seaworld didn't care because they had their Orcas and that's all that mattered. >:o(    I know this to be true because I had a friend who lived in Palos Verdes and I was present at some of the protests. 

Theresa Pugh
Theresa Pugh

@Rachel Baxter @Lara Wilder Rachel "A Whale Of A Business" in next on my to watch list. Thank You!

Rachel Baxter
Rachel Baxter

@Lara Wilder  An to add...They move whales from park to park throughout their lives--this can be verified by sources other than Blackfish if you take the time to research. There are organizations that have been tracking wild and captive killer whales for decades. If you want to discount the trainers' recollection of what they were told about the dangers of killer whales and past incidents of trainer injuries, you can do so. That still doesn't change the facts. Those incidents of killer whale attacks are also documented online if you care to research. I also encourage people to review the court documents from the OSHA case against Sea World, the inquest from Keltie Byrnes death, the autopsy reports of Ms. Brancheau and Mr. Dukes, the Orange County Sheriff investigation documents. All of these documents are available online. (And in one place...check out scribd.com). Let's make our minds up based on facts. 

Samantha King
Samantha King

@Theresa Pugh @Bradley Bergman @Bryan Geonzon  It's true! People will attack you if you show that you disagree with them in any form. IT's terrible. No one wants to discuss this matter civilly. They can't stand to let anyone have a differing opinion. And sadly, its most of the people against captivity who are doing the attacking of others. That's pathetic. You want someone to support your cause, you don't be hostile. You be respectful and understanding that maybe they ahven't read as much as you or are still trying to figure out what they believe. Attacking them and being offensive just makes them want to not be associated with you in anyway. Not YOU specifically, but you directed as a generality lol 

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