Just watched: Blackfish

From the trailer I assumed this would be a documentary on the viciousness of Orca’s (killer whales). Boy was I wrong.

You hear from former SeaWorld trainers, and they tell you just how much is sheltered from the public eye, and how much is sheltered from they themselves, trainers in the SeaWorld system. Things are covered up, trainers are blamed, and the spokespeople just really don’t care about accuracy.

Tilikum was, from the get go, treated rather dismally. He started of at Sealand of the Pacific, a small pool floating on the coast in Victoria, BC. At night he, along with two other whales, are put into a 20x30 (foot) metal container. Some might say this wouldn’t be a problem when they are young, but these animals grow, and they get aggressive towards each other. Tilikum would suffer from the female orca’s raking, or scraping their teeth along his flesh, leaving scratches and gashes along his skin. After some time passed, they would have to starve the whales in order to be able to lure them into this building with food. Wouldn’t this frustrate you? Yes, yes it would. It frustrated Tilikum as well, and one day a volunteer trainer slipped and fell into the pool, and Tilikum dragged her under, and the other two whales joined him, and she was killed.

After this ordeal, Sealand of the Pacific shut down, and SeaWorld, Orlando, bought Tilikum. The trainers at SeaWorld were all told that Tilikum was not the one who killed the trainer in Victoria, but the superiors exercised caution with letting the trainers around him. One trainer (Samantha Berg) recalls that when Dawn Brancheau walked across the gate holding Tilikum in his pen, the superiors hollered at her to “Get away from him” and told other to “stay away”. Now, why would they do that if the whale was safe to be around?


Killer whales have a very matriarchal society, and with SeaWorld buying him for breeding purposes (which shouldn’t have been done anyway, considering he had showed aggressive behavior) he was kept with the female whales. There he would, again, suffer from raking. It showed in one scene Tilikum’s tail bleeding as he slid onto the platform to bow at the end of a performance.

As you watch the footage of the day the fateful accident happened, you can see that at the beginnning he is very attentive towards Brancheau, and does everything she asks of him right away. He misses a cue however, and doesn’t get rewarded which agitates him. Then Ms. Brancheau starts running out of fish to give him and walks around the rocky area to the holding pen to do a relationship sequence. Tilikum then pulls her under by her arm and does a barrel roll, drowning her. 

SeaWorld and SeaWorld spokespersons tried to cover it up and blame it on the trainer. Eyewitness accounts, however, dispute this statement and they have to recalculate their strategy. Eventually they settle on it being an “accident” and “trainer error”.

Tilikum is still in captivity today. He still performs.


Please educate yourself on what actually happens to these whales in captivity, and before you go blaming the whales, please understand the emotional psyche they are forced through. 

Free the Whales!