Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish: Comprehensive Analysis

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Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite was released on July 19th, 2013. In the film, the watchers get to see a continuous court case between SeaWorld and the Occupational Safety and Health Admissions. The documentary talks about an aggressive killer whale named Tilikum who was captured at a young age and was kept in captivity his whole life. It also explained multiple incidents that happened with other killer whales who were kept in captivity at SeaWorld. In a series of videos and interviews, individuals can see how little many of the SeaWorld workers actually know about killer whales and how misinformed they were about things that were happening at the park. The viewers get to see Tilikums journey of being captive and seeing why he acts the way that he does.

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Orcas are not the type of mammals that are supposed live in captivity, but instead are supposed to swim freely in an open water environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Admissions issued a court order against SeaWorld stating that “working with wild orcas is a dangerous thing to do because you never know what is going to happen”, but SeaWorld made excuses, some being that their trainers safety was one of their top priorities. Tilikum was one of Seaworlds largest and most well known orcas, but he was also one of the most violent ones. He was the orca that killed three killer whale trainers and was known for lunging at them while they were performing together. There had also been many other incidents reported at SeaWorld involving the killer whales hurting the trainers. This was believed to be happening because they were trapped in small living areas. One of the biggest problems at SeaWorld was that they never blamed Tilikum for killing the 3 different trainers and having an aggressive behavior.

Throughout the documentary, many different clips from previous trainers were showed and even what they had to say about it now. Tilikum did not originate from SeaWorld, he was originally from SeaLand which is where he attacked Keltie Byrne. SeaLand was an aquarium that put on whale shows. Two eyewitnesses were interviewed to talk about what happened the day of the accident. They stated that Katie was pulled down by Tilikum and throw around by the three orcas. They could hear Katie screaming “someone help me, I don’t want to die”. Shortly after the incident, SeaLand closed and Tilikum was sent to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. The second person that Tilikum had killed was Daniel Dukes. According to the park, this man was a drug addict who snuck into the park and jumped into Tilikums tank and no one reportedly saw him. But according to the former SeaWorld trainers there are many security cameras located around the park, including inside the tanks of the killer whales. No one knows what really happened besides the story that was reported on the news. The last incident was one of the most tragic ones. Dawn Brancheau was one of the most loved killer whale trainers. In a video recorded by a ticketholder, one can see Dawn getting drag by the forearm into the water and you can also hear her yelling “someone help me” in a tone that she knew she was going to die. When they finally got a hold of Dawn’s body, they reported that her body was dismembered by Tilikum. There have been over 200 reported incidents of accidents with killer whales and video evidence to go along with only a handful of them. The documentary consist of former workers of SeaWorld, videos recorded by audience members, and the court case filed against the theme park proving that it is not safe to work with killer whales.

After watching the documentary Blackfish, individuals can rethink the idea of places that hold animal’s captive. Many animals who are held captive, are not treated right regardless of what the place where they are being held says. The theme park SeaWorld states that “they treat their orcas with care” but most of them are mistreated, misfed, and they even separate a mother from her children. The animals that are held captive should be able to live free in the wild instead of being kept in a small area that they can’t be themselves. After seeing many incidents happening throughout the film, it should be an eye opener to many individuals to not go to support what SeaWorld is doing, because these animals should be able to live freely.

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