“Blackfish,” is a documentary film about the multiple incidents, including the three deaths, that prompted the ongoing court case between Sea World, and OSHA, the “Occupational Safety and Health Admissions”. These 3 deaths, which included 2 Orca trainers, were caused by Sea World’s infamous bull Orca “Tilikum.”
I first came across this documentary when it was being named in one sentence with the highly emotional documentary ‘The Cove’ which documented the hunt for dolphins.
It gave me some high expectations for the quality of this 90 minute documentary chronicling all the wrong doings regarding Sea World and it managed to surpass them.
Blackfish, in its initial setup, is everything you’d expect from a documentary. We get the standard interview shots from people who worked for Sea World over the course of the last 30 years and stock footage from old promotional videos.
But it’s after those initial 10 minutes that we meet an old and weathered man discussing how they caught the animals back in the 70’s. How they lured families into a bay only to separate the young from their parents, with some of them dying in the process, subsequently being cut open and filled up with rocks so they sank to the bottom of the bay, that you start to realise that this is no ordinary documentary.
From that story onwards, detailing how orca’s live to become a hundred in the wild, how their young never separate from their mothers, and how it must feel for such a baby orca to be put inside a small tank to perform tricks all day, you get a real sense of how awful it must be for those poor animals.
With the origins of the killer whales and how they came to be in Sea World explained, we move on to one of them called Tilikum, a huge bull whale, who is responsible for the deaths of 3 people.
It’s here where Blackfish moves away from its initial documentational view and plays out more like a thriller.
Tilikum is regarded as highly dangerous, due in part to his time living in enclosed captures as well as the fact that he is simply too big to be held there.
It’s at times a highly emotional story, how people lost their lives, including the 2010 accident in which miss Brancheau, one of the most highly experienced trainers they had in Sea World, died in front of a crowd.
You wonder why a company like that is still in business with the facts piling up on how awful the circumstances are for the animals, as well as the amount of misinformation the park gives out (orca’s only live to become 30 ma’am, their dorsal fins always collapse) which is said because they only grow to become 30 at Sea World,and get collapsed dorsal fins AT Sea World, NOT in the wild.
On top of that, the park is highly dangerous for trainers as shown in the archival footage (which doesn’t show any footage of the actual deaths) as well as the animals.
I hope a lot of people take the time to watch this 90 minute rollercoaster of a ride and create a voice strong enough to stop Sea World in their tracks.
With the 2012 OSHA agreement that trainers can never be in the water with the animals again, as well as Sea World trying to overrule that court order, the fight is still ongoing today.
Skip seeing ‘The Avengers’ again and try Blackfish on for size.