ByRalph Varlese, writer at
Film/TV lover
Ralph Varlese

PG-13 | 2013 | 83m

Blackfish is a heart-wrenching documentary about Oracs in captivity. Focusing on Sea World, the movie tells the tale of Tilikum, a male that was kidnapped when he was 2 years old, in front of his mother. She was trying to protect him and all the other baby whales when he and two others were taken. Three more were left for dead, sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Tilikum was then forced to grow up in a cage for two thirds of his life. The remaining time was spent doing tricks for dead fish, in a not much bigger tank.

Orcas are beautiful, majestic animals. However, when you type Orca into wikipedia you are taken to a page with “Killer whale” at the top, not orca. So, the world, or at least the Internet better knows them as killer whales. In fact, I can tell you as I type this that my spell check doesn’t know what an orca is. I am as shocked as you are. It should at least know that the boat in Jaws was named the Orca.

So, what does that name mean? Killer whale, let’s pull it apart.

First part: Killer. Okay, simple enough, don’t need to read too much into that. I stay away from people that go by the name killer, maybe take the same precautions with animals that do as well.

Second Part: Whale: a large, highly intelligent, sea mammal. Whales are capable of rational thought, feeling emotions, and having conversations.

These animals are not just whales they are also predators. They like to hunt for their food, not do tricks. Who on earth would think that it would be a good idea to capture, cage and parade them in front of crowds, almost like the Romans did with the lions? Pretty much exactly what Barnum & Bailey did with them. It is cruel, unjust and downright dangerous. Even more so since they are so smart. A lion might try to eat you, but they wouldn’t do it out of spite, revenge or insanity.

Tilikum, has attacked and killed numerous people. He is by all definitions, a serial killer. It’s not all his fault though. He has been tortured his whole life. He watched his friends, or possibly siblings murdered. He was ripped away from his family and shoved in a cell with two other, aggressive whales. They would attack him at night, and then he would be forced to perform with them the next day. The only food he received came from his trainers, who withheld his fish unless he performed the tricks, the way he was supposed to. If he messed a trick up, they refused to feed him. That is how they “train” orcas. This kind of a life would drive the sanest person crazy. Wouldn't you would lash out at your captors given the chance.

However, to make matters worse, Sea World, and all the other companies out there, like to blame the trainers for the deaths. If any other kind of animal were to kill someone, they would be put down. Instead of doing that, they pass the blame off and act as if everything is normal. They even lied to the people that work there about how dangerous they truly are. Most of the trainers didn’t know about the past deaths when they worked there. If they did know, they were under the false impressions given to them by management.

So, instead of putting Tilikum down, or better yet, setting him free, they kept him alive and performing, which is how he has racked up his body count. However, the real reason they kept him around was to stud him out. They mostly wanted him for his sperm, and boy did it get around. There are a bunch of offspring from this psychotic serial killer, and that generation has been busy as well. Imagine if they took Jeffrey Dahmer’s sperm and spread his kin around the world. That would be crazy right?

Tilikam's family tree.
Tilikam's family tree.

This documentary is so moving. I dare you to “See it” and not get emotional, or at least second-guess visiting Sea World again. If you do however, for the love of what ever you hold dear in this world, don’t sit your child on top of a killer whale for a photo op.


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