Orcas in Captivity

By Manny Moreno


In the documentary Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite successfully shows that capturing orcas is bad for them and can have a negative effect on their health and psychological state through stock footage of whale attacks and interviews with experts and witnesses.


In Blackfish the director shows us how SeaWorld tries to hide trainer deaths from whales that are stuck in captivity. They show several attacks and often blame it on the trainers even though the whales are just showing aggression because of their situation.

Stock Footage of Whale Attacks

Kenneth Peters: In this clip, a trainer is getting ready to perform with a whale. The trainer and the whale have known each other for a long time and have been training with each other for a while. As the trainer jumps in and prepares the show the whale grabs his foot and starts pulling him down into the water and holds him there as seen below. The trainer remained calm and escaped. This shows that captivity has a negative effect on the whales because they are showing signs of aggression.
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Footage of Whales pulling Girl in Water: In this clip a girl is just showing the whales attention. Then all of a sudden the whales pulled the girl in and held her there. They broke her arm. The whales were most likely angry that they were being held in small spaces.
Footage of whale jumping on man: In this clip, a man is riding on the back of a whale and another whale jumps onto the man and crushes him. The man was severely injured and was rushed to the hospital. This was most likely the whale being frustrated about being captured.


John Crowe: In this interview a former whale hunter talks about how they would catch the whales as seen below. At the time he didn't think he was doing anything wrong but he realized over time. They would separate the family of whales from each other and take them away. The whole time the whales would be crying. This is probably a main reason why captivity has a negative effect on them and makes the whales do things they normally wouldn't do.
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Interview with two witnesses to whale attack: In this interview two female witnesses talk about a whale attack. The whale had pulled a trainer in and drowned her. At the time the whale who was responsible for killing the trainer was being held in a pitch black container in isolation. The whale was obviously fed up and got angry. Seaworld claimed the girl slipped but the two females in the interview said that is not what happened.
Interview with Trainers wife: In this interview, a trainer from a zoo in Spain was killed by a whale sent from overseas. They talk to the wife and she tells her side of the story. The place where her husband worked at told her that he would be fine and that there was an accident. The trainer had actually died when the wife arrived at the park. The whale was probably frustrated from the long travel overseas in containment.


In conclusion, Gabriela Cowperwaithe successfully shows all the negative things that captivity can do to whale and how it can change the creatures life drastically trough stock footage of whale attacks and interviews with experts. The film made me feel sad for the whales and the families of all the people that have lost their lives in these attacks. Seaworld has been trying to hide all these deaths or say that it was a trainers fault even though the true reason for these attacks is the whales are being separated from their families and are held in captivity.