Movie Review – Blackfish

"Blackfish cover"

 

 

It was all thanks to Twitter that I first heard about this movie, and then again when I attended the London March against Taiji and the cetacean captivity trade. I saw so many of Blackfish posters on the placards which some protestors carried so I knew I had to see the movie.

I have to admit that when I watched The Cove in full recently, I had a previous understanding of what was happening in Taiji. I had no preconceptions of what Blackfish was about, other than, it featured a huge male orca called, Tilikum, who I had heard of in a news broadcast.

Blackfish deals with the topic of captive (and performing) orcas in a way that both respects the lives of the trainers who have died or been injured in the industry, as well as putting forward irrefutable arguments as to why these creatures should not be kept in captivity, never mind be forced to do tricks for our entertainment.

You do feel for the families who have lost loved ones to the industry, but I think that Blackfish does a great job to showcase why it is a disgusting and outdated industry. One that needs to be shut down. Grassroots movements exist all over the web and the momentum is swelling. The goal is simply to stop the SeaWorld’s of this world.

Like the smaller dolphins and porpoises, orcas are clearly more intelligent and socially aware than we give them credit for, with strong family pods which are destroyed in the wild when individuals are captured.  Suffering is also caused in the captive breeding programs where young captive bred orcas are wrenched from mothers, to be sold onwards in the insidious trade in wildlife.

Lies about an orca’s lifespan are propagated by employees who claim that these mammals only live for 30-35 years and thus have a better life in captivity. We know that in the wild, researchers have established that they can live as long as a human. These staff members also try and explain away Tilikum’s collapsed dorsal fin as something that happens naturally in the wild, this is simply more misinformation passed onto the paying public.

Documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove are the new platform for public awareness and long may it continue. The ex-SeaWorld trainers who feature in the film openly admit to believing and helping to propagate the nonsense which their ex-employers continue to try and sell. So it’s a big kudos to them for getting in front of the camera.

Hats off to a great film which I hope you all buy, and watch. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director, her crew and cast, have done a wonderful job here. It is as balanced a film as they could make considering that SeaWorld refused to comment, be interviewed or take part in anyway.

When two points of view are expressed with equal force, the truth does not always lie midway between them. It is possible for one side to simply be wrong – Richard Dawkins

So let’s all continue towards emptying the tanks.

 

Some of the things I took away from this movie.

  •  Over 70 accidents and near-misses were documented during training and shows.
  • Expert witness, Dave Duffas (OSHA Expert Witness, Whale Researcher), was asked whether we had learnt anything from two trainers deaths which Tilikum was involved in, which were almost 20 years apart. His chilling answer was, “not a damn thing”. So as long as this goes on trainers and animals will be at risk.
  • In a world of Blu-ray, DVD’s, streaming video channels and fantastic wildlife filmmaking, how can we continue to say that animals in captivity are essential for educational purposes? This is simply no longer true; they are there because of greed.
  • There is more a case for seeing animals in the wild than ever. I am sure there could be issues with some unregulated eco-tour operators pestering pods, but that can be still be legislated and enforced, all the while, the animals remain wild and free.

 

Sites and Social Media streams to follow

Blackfish the Movie – Official site

Blackfish FB – Facebook page

Blackfish Twitter

 

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Tilikum on show – Photo from public domain. If you know the photo credit, please let me know

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Tilikum on show – Photo from public domain. if you know the photo credit, please let me know

 

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