Seaworld Harms Oracs with Captivity

David Winchell

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Thesis

In her documentary, Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite is successful in revealing the poor treatment of whales in captivity by involving interviews with former whale trainers and also showing actual footage of whales in captivity.

Defining the Purpose

Blackfish follows the events leading up to the death of Dawn Brancheau, a whale trainer at SeaWorld that was killed by one of the whales. This documentary follows the story all the way from the capture of these whales to get them into captivity, to the death of Dawn and the events that follow. The filmmaker consistently makes it clear that keeping these animals in captivity is very damaging to their health and leads them to act out and even kill.

Expert Interviews

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Trainers Intentions

At the start of this documentary the filmmaker interviews many former whale trainers and they talk about their intentions when they first started working at SeaWorld. All of the trainers say that they had good intentions with the whales and wouldn't do anything to harm the whales. This shows that the trainers can't be blamed for the poor health of the whales or the attacks.

Experts on Health of Whales

Towards the middle of the documentary they begin to draw attention to the health of the whales and also their life span. Experts show that whales in the wild live about 40 years longer than whales kept in captivity their whole lives. Also when this point is brought up SeaWorld tries to lie and say that their whales live longer than wild whales even though statistics show otherwise. Also experts reveal that the flopped over dorsal fin is not normal and probably unhealthy. SeaWorld once again lies and says that about half of the whales in the wild have a collapsed dorsal fin even though wild life experts show that only a small percentage of wild orcas have a collapsed dorsal fin.

Trainers Feelings After Death of Dawn Brancheau

Near the end of the film the trainers are interviewed again. They talk about how they feel about Dawn's death and the way SeaWorld reacted to it. The trainers all show that they are upset about Dawn's death but also realize that the abuse the whales went through is what caused them to attack her, not trainer error. They all seem to see the negative effects of keeping orcas in captivity and think the whales are better off in the wild. Also the former trainers are mad at SeaWorld for the way they tried to cover up the death of Dawn Brancheau and because they said it was her fault. This is just another way SeaWorld lied to try and cover up their mistakes to make themselves look better.

Stock Footage

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Tanks of Whales

This documentary also shows how cruel the tanks that the whales live in can be. It shows that many whales are being attacked in these small tanks and do not have room to run away from their attacker. This leads to many whales becoming very aggressive and irritated because of their poor health and treatment. Also it shows how cruel it is to have a whale in such a small tank when normally they would have the whole ocean to roam.

Wild Whales

The documentary also shows many videos of whales out in the wild. These whales are all in great health and swimming large distances with their whole family. Also none of these wild whales are shown to have a collapsed dorsal fin or rake marks like the whales in captivity in SeaWorld. This shows that the whales being kept in SeaWorld are in poor health because they are being kept in captivity.

Whale Attacks

Towards the end of the documentary the filmmaker decides to show a few minutes of actual whale attacks. These videos show trainers being attacked in horrible ways for no apparent reason. One trainer is even dragged to the bottom of the tank multiple times by a whale and held there until he almost drowns but finally escapes the whale and swims to safety. These attacks all show the whales becoming very aggressive due to being held in captivity and their poor treatment. SeaWorld blames all of these attacks including the one that killed Dawn on the trainers.

Impact on Me

This documentary really made me realize and understand the poor treatment of the whales at SeaWorld. Also I now know that this should be stopped because keeping these whales in captivity is harmful to the whales and also to the trainers.