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SeaWorld Unleashes 8 Assertions About ‘Blackfish’ and Filmmakers Respond

SeaWorld Unleashes 8 Assertions About 'Blackfish' and Filmmakers Respond

It’s rare that corporations targeted in documentaries hire a film publicist to make sure that critics and journalists are informed of the company’s response to a film.  McDonald’s didn’t work to do damage control with film writers when "Super Size Me" opened, though there were rumors it would.  It’s common for industries and corporations to erect damage control mechanisms for the public.  In the famous case chronicled in the New Yorker, David Koch seems to have pulled his support of WNET because they aired Alex Gibney’s "Park Avenue."  "Gasland" director Josh Fox’s follow-up to his fracking exposé makes clear the natural gas industry’s attack on his film.

This weekend, indie film publicists had competing clients, when SeaWorld lashed out at Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film "Blackfish," the Sundance documentary that was picked up by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films.  Starting with the death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, "Blackfish" tells the history of SeaWorld and other like theme parks and notes the ways in which the conditions at these parks are harming the whales that are kept in them and are putting humans in danger.

READ MORE: Interview: ‘Blackfish’ Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Discusses Suffering Orcas, Trainer Death, and Why SeaWorld Hasn’t Seen the Movie

After keeping mum for some time, this past Saturday, SeaWorld released a list of eight problems they had with the film through film publicity outfit 42West.  The list of issues with the film came addressed to "film credits" with the subject line "A dishonest movie."  SeaWorld’s assertions were introduced by saying, "Although ‘Blackfish’ is by most accounts a powerful, emotionally-moving piece of advocacy, it is also shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate. As the late scholar and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously noted: ‘You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.’"

After enumerating their complaints with the film, the letter ended, "These are only the most egregious of the film’s many misrepresentations.  ‘Blackfish’ is similarly misleading and inaccurate in its account of the other fatal incidents in which Tilikum was supposedly involved, what happened at Loro Parque, the training and qualifications of SeaWorld trainers, and the care and living conditions enjoyed by SeaWorld’s orcas. And the list goes on…and on."

"Blackfish" opens in Los Angeles and New York this week, and it expands to other markets in subsequent weeks.  It will air on CNN this fall. 

Below are SeaWorld’s eight assertions (which, as noted above, could have been more), and the filmmakers’ response to them.  Though the situation is clearly complicated, the filmmakers rightly point out that the film often does portray some of the perspectives addressed in SeaWorld’s assertions.  Potential viewers beware, SeaWorld’s assertions involve spoilers.

SeaWorld Assertion 1

The insinuation that SeaWorld stocks its parks with killer whales captured from the wild. In fact, SeaWorld hasn’t collected a killer whale from the wild in more than 35 years; more than 80% of the killer whales at SeaWorld were born there or in other zoological facilities. 

Film Response:

It is not transparent to us whether SeaWorld has watched the film carefully. We were very clear in the film that the majority of whales at SeaWorld parks these days are captive-born. In fact, we have a graphic showing that many of those captive-born calves are Tilikum’s offspring, the whale who has a proven track record of killing 3 people.

That said, there is a whale called Morgan at a marine park in Spain which houses SeaWorld-owned whales. Morgan was caught in the wild and was placed in Loro Parque where she will be bred and perform alongside the other SeaWorld whales.

SeaWorld Assertion 2

The assertion that killer whales in the wild live more than twice as long as those living at SeaWorld.  While research suggests that some wild killer whales can live as long as 60 or 70 years, their average lifespan is nowhere near that. Nor is it true that killer whales in captivity live only 25 to 35 years. Because we’ve been studying killer whales at places like SeaWorld for only 40 years or so, we don’t know what their lifespans might be—though we do know that SeaWorld currently has one killer whale in her late 40s and a number of others in their late 30s.     

Film Response

In the wild, average lifespan is 30 for males, 50 for females. Their estimated maximum life span is 60-70 years for males and 80-90 years for females. In captivity, most orcas die in their teens and 20s and only a handful have made it past 35.The annual mortality or death rate for orcas is 2.5 times higher in captivity than it is in the wild. These are not controversial data.  

In the film, we depict what seems to be a deliberate attempt by SeaWorld to misrepresent these well documented data to their visitors.

SeaWorld Assertion 3

The implication that unlike killer whales in the wild, killer whales  in zoos or parks—and specifically Tilikum, the whale involved in Dawn Brancheau’s death—are routinely bullied by other whales.  The word “bullying” is meaningless when applied to the behavior of an animal like a killer whale. Whales live in a social setting with a dominance hierarchy, both at SeaWorld and in the wild. They express dominance in a variety of ways, including using their teeth to “rake” other whales, in the open ocean as well as in parks.   ·        

Film Response

SeaWorld does not show an understanding of basic behavioral biology in this statement. It is true that social animals like orcas do have dominance hierarchies and they are maintained via behavioral interactions. The film asserts that in the wild, whales can also flee conflict. Whales at SeaWorld cannot escape from a negative social interaction and are therefore confronted with conflicts that have proven to be injurious and even fatal.

Furthermore in the wild, these hierarchies are among family groups and are maintained with minimal aggression. In the wild, no orca has ever been known to seriously injure or kill another orca, inside or outside of their social group, in any interaction. Certainly minor injuries occur, and scars may remain (including nicks in dorsal fins and scratches on saddles), but no serious injury inflicted on one wild orca by another orca has ever been recorded, when observing live animals or in examining dead ones.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article identified the PBS affiliate David Koch stopped funding as WNYC, which was incorrect.  WNYC is a New York public radio station.  WNET (thirteen) is the television network in question
SeaWorld Assertion 4

The accusation that SeaWorld callously breaks up killer whale families.  SeaWorld does everything possible to support the social structures of all marine mammals, including killer whales.  It moves killer whales only when doing so is in the interest of their long-term health and welfare.  And despite the misleading footage in the film, the only time it separates unweaned killer whale calves from their mothers is when the mothers have rejected them.

Film Response

The calf-mother separations that are mentioned in the film both involve two of the most responsible and bonded mothers in SeaWorld’s collection, both of whom have had multiple calves taken from them. The separations are said to be driven primarily by introducing new breeding options to other SeaWorld parks and by fulfilling entertainment and other husbandry needs.

We are surprised that SeaWorld has brought up calf rejection, an issue the film does not address and a phenomenon that is extremely rare in wild orcas. In the wild, females generally have their first calf around 13-16 years of age. Because SeaWorld has bred their females as early as 5-6 years of age, these females have not learned proper social behavior, they have not learned how to mother a calf, and may ultimately reject and injure their calves.

SeaWorld Assertion 5

The accusation that SeaWorld mistreats its killer whales with punishment-based training that’s designed to force them to learn unnatural behaviors. SeaWorld has never used punishment-based training on any of its animals, including Tilikum, only positive reinforcement. And the behaviors it reinforces are always within the killer whale’s natural range of behaviors.   ·        

Film Response

Again, we are unsure whether SeaWorld has undertaken a careful review ofBlackfish. The film never depicts SeaWorld as using punishment. We are confident the trainers would not acquiesce to such overt tactics. Yetalthough these accounts are not depicted in the film, multiple trainers are aware of incidents where animals may be fed substandard amounts of fish before VIP shows to encourage their cooperation or where a male killer whale might be put in with a group of whales who have been previously aggressive with him in order to encourage complicit behavior.

We find the claim that SeaWorld killer whales perform behaviors “within the killer whale’s natural range of behaviors,” to be false. Wild killer whales are never observed performing front flips or vertical jumps to touch objects, neither have they been observed to spin 360 degrees on land. A killer whale supporting a human who rides, "surfs", or leaps from the animal’s rostrum does not fall within a wild killer whale’s repertoire either. These are unnatural, trained behaviors only observed in marine parks and reinforced by food.

SeaWorld Assertion 6

The accusation that SeaWorld trainers were not adequately informed about Tilikum. From the time Tilikum first arrived at SeaWorld, all trainers were warned—both as part of their training and in writing—that they were not allowed in the water with him. In fact, as was widely reported and covered at length in the OSHA proceedings, Tilikum has always had his own set of training protocols and only the most experienced trainers have been allowed to work with him.

Film Response

The film asserts that trainers were not told the details of what happened to Keltie Byrne when Tilikum arrived at SeaWorld and not told the details of what happened to Daniel Dukes at the time of his death. The details behind the reason for Tilikum’s training protocols were not adequately explained, and Tilikum was often characterized as having been “associated” with previous deaths, and was described, even in the OSHA trials as an animal who “was possessive of objects” that fell into the water. The OSHA legal counsel had to push SeaWorld to admit that these objects sometimes included humans.

SeaWorld Assertion 7

The accusation that SeaWorld tried to “spin” the story of Dawn Brancheau’s death, changing its story several times and blaming her for the tragedy. As the movie itself shows, it was local law enforcement—not SeaWorld—that issued the initial report that Dawn had accidentally fallen into the water. SeaWorld’s account of what happened—that Tilikum had grabbed Dawn’s ponytail and pulled her in—never varied.  And the company has never blamed Dawn for what happened. (The person in the film who did was not a SeaWorld spokesperson.)    ·        

Film Response

It is our understanding that the local law enforcement representative who claimed Dawn Brancheau slipped and fell, issued this public statement after he emerged from a private meeting with top SeaWorld officials. Video documentation exists depicting SeaWorld Animal Training staff standing directly behind him as he makes this apparent “misstatement”. We are unclear as to whether SeaWorld is accusing the Orange County Sheriff’s Office of fabricating this story.

Several SeaWorld trainers to whom we spoke claim that SeaWorld management and senior management routinely and repeatedly blamed Dawn Brancheau for being too complacent.

Seaworld Assertion 8

The assertion that Tilikum attacked and killed Dawn Brancheau because he was driven crazy by his years in captivity. Tilikum did not attack Dawn.  All evidence indicates that Tilikum became interested in the novelty of Dawn’s ponytail in his environment and, as a result, he grabbed it and pulled her into the water. 

Film Response

Although eye witness accounts and a video of events just prior to the take-down seem to strongly contradict the notion that Dawn was pulled in by her ponytail, it is most important to note that according to SeaWorld’s own Management during courtroom testimony, Tilikum was desensed to ponytails and therefore did not find them a novelty. The brutal nature of the prolonged, aggressive attack and the facts in the autopsy strongly suggest that Tilikum’s behavior was anything but novel curiosity. These facts were internally corroborated by senior level training staff at SeaWorld.

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Give me a god damn break. We are talking about 30 big dolphins. Is it too much to ask to have ten of thousands of people be able to enjoy seeing something at SeaWorld that they would otherwise never see or learn about. I despise you pussy bleeding heart animal lovers. If you have a problem with dolphins in captivity then I assume you have a problem with ANY AND ALL animals in captivity. Otherwise you would just be jumping on this propaganda bullshit bandwagon right? So let’s shut down every zoo, park and aquarium in the country so no more little animals will have to endure the pain of being watched and enjoyed by a heartless animal hating human. To anyone who supports this "documentary"……F U C K YOU and I hope you get super aids.


sea wold ducks willy

seaworld sucks cock



I would like to state to dear "orca" Im sure thats not your name. It has been proven that any animal or human trapped in a cage or put under extremely different enviroment for a very long time can make you go crazy. The point they made about tilikum is that in his genetics he has more violence. Since many many orcas or blood related with a violent orca they can have a tendency for violence to or as he did kill people. This documentary "not movie" as you put it is full of facts and knowledge that you obviously take for granted.


Seaworld and other places like it MUST to be shut down. It’s as simple as that.
Humans are the worst species on earth. Intelligence my butt! We are the only species that are avaricious, murderous, conniving and all things evil on earth. What we do we do mostly for our gain. Animals are different. The whales should be released and not abused. Hope the management at sea world is put in a cage and abused! Would serve them right! Damn them!


I have never liked seeing animals in cages and a tank no matter how big it is its not the same as the ocean how can we say we better these whales lives when evidence shows it is not true. SeaWorld should be a heart goes out to the animals that is no life for any living thing how can we pride ourselves on freedom when we see fit to take it from animals all living things deserve at least that. I mean that’s what we are born with is freedom.


Really it absorbs. Sea Globe is disappointing for anyone that isn’t a little kid or an fool.


Am I the only one that finds it hilarious how losers like Ryan try so desperately to insult others so that they may feel better about their own pitiful existences? Cheers.


For the person bothered by the title. Black fish is a translation of a native American word for orca.


Score: Sea World 0, film 8. Before reading any of the film responses, it was easy to rebut each assertion. My guess is that anyone with half a brain, who actually watched the film, would be able to as well.


This is the story of a young orca who was captured in 1968 by the Seattle Aquarium near Seattle, Washington. He was named Ishmael and shipped to Point Mugu, California, to begin training with the United States Navy as part of .


look this stuff is crazy so live your life and get over it


Do a search: sam-simon-says-kshamenk-is-most-abused-orca-in-the-world

So is this humane?



Orca Deserts United States Navy

This is the story of a young orca who was captured in 1968 by the Seattle Aquarium near Seattle, Washington. He was named Ishmael and shipped to Point Mugu, California, to begin training with the United States Navy as part of Project Deep Ops.

His basic Navy education began on May 24, 1969. Ishmael was trained to return to his station, allow handling, respond to a recall buzzer attached to his backpack, retrieve an inflated ball with an attached ring, swim through a 10 x 10 foot gate, hold his breath and exhale on acoustic command, and follow a nine-foot outboard boat.

After basic training ended at Point Mugu in December 1969, Ishmael was transferred to Project Deep Ops in Hawaii to start his deep diving assignment.

On 19 February 1971, Ishmael made a dive to 500 feet. On the next trial, he made a shallow dive and returned to the boat. On the third try, he made another shallow dive, spat out the training device in his mouth, and returned to the boat.

When he surfaced, Ishmael slapped his large tail flukes on the water (lobtailing) and hit the water with his pectoral fins. After he swam a few hundred yards away from the boat, his trainers decided to stop his lessons for the day.
Here……for the IDIOTS that think they LIKE what they are doing in captivity. Why did this orca SWIM AWAY?????? He was fed! He should have had a great life! Why did he swim away???

Be educated before you try to act like you are!

But Ishmael had a different plan. He started swimming toward the channel entrance and never looked back. He refused to respond to radio signals transmitted via his backpack. The Navy sped after him. When last sighted, Ishmael was outside the channel entrance. Despite a search for several days by boat and air, Ishmael was never seen again …at least not by the Navy.


do a search on this: what-happened-nakai-seaworld-whale-missing-huge-chunk-chin

I can't post the link here.

Kind Soul

These animals are not on earth for human exploitive, abusive pleasure. We (humans) are a sick species. Everything is for our misuse and about us. Homo Sapiens are amoung the youngest species on the planet, but I do not believe we will ever last long enough to be amoungst the oldest.

Shakeel Ahmed

Appeal: For God’s Sake, Help me
I want to say to you all friends and brothers that I agree that internet is misused by people and make false stories to seek help from people and make obstacles for true man. All the appeals I have made so for are all true. I am telling a truth because if I tell a lie , I would have to tell you another hundred lies. Friends, I want to tell you that I have contacted many presidents of world. It is truth. I want to tell you which presidents have contacted me. Germany, Chile, American state’s governor Patrick and the Kuwait’s president and Ban-Ki-Moon of UNO have written me a letter. A Costa Rica who is president of this country has contacted me. I believe that they will have contacted my Pakistani’s embassy and all agencies and from police station near to my home. If I had been working, I would have been arrested so far. I thank all the presidents of world who have replied me and believed on a true person like me and they have said that they cannot interfere in internal matters. I want to say to you to inquiry about me from agencies and police station before helping me. If I am wrong, arrest me and sue me. I am ready to co-operate you because I don’t fear because I am a true man. No one may be like me, the poor way I am living. I am sad that those who read my appeal laugh at me. May God, they don’t do it again. Plz think of helping me.
You’re Sincere,
Shakeel Ahmed,
Phone: +923455160709, +92346593721
My CNIC Number: 37405-1181727-9
My wife’s CNIC Number: 37405-9196555-2
My passport number: C2801187

Address: St#27, Obaid Cosmetics, Allama Iqbal colony, Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi Cantt, Pakistan

My Account Information:
Account Name: Raja Shakil Ahmed
Account Number: 212377015
Branch Code: 0041
UBL Cantt Branch, Rawalpindi, Saddar


Appeal: For God’s Sake, Help me
I want to say to you all friends and brothers that I agree that internet is misused by people and make false stories to seek help from people and make obstacles for true man. All the appeals I have made so for are all true. I am telling a truth because if I tell a lie , I would have to tell you another hundred lies. Friends, I want to tell you that I have contacted many presidents of world. It is truth. I want to tell you which presidents have contacted me. Germany, Chile, American state’s governor Patrick and the Kuwait’s president and Ban-Ki-Moon of UNO have written me a letter. A Costa Rica who is president of this country has contacted me. I believe that they will have contacted my Pakistani’s embassy and all agencies and from police station near to my home. If I had been working, I would have been arrested so far. I thank all the presidents of world who have replied me and believed on a true person like me and they have said that they cannot interfere in internal matters. I want to say to you to inquiry about me from agencies and police station before helping me. If I am wrong, arrest me and sue me. I am ready to co-operate you because I don’t fear because I am a true man. No one may be like me, the poor way I am living. I am sad that those who read my appeal laugh at me. May God, they don’t do it again. Plz think of helping me.
You’re Sincere,
Shakeel Ahmed,
Phone: +923455160709, +92346593721
My CNIC Number: 37405-1181727-9
My wife’s CNIC Number: 37405-9196555-2
My passport number: C2801187

Address: St#27, Obaid Cosmetics, Allama Iqbal colony, Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi Cantt, Pakistan

My Account Information:
Account Name: Raja Shakil Ahmed
Account Number: 212377015
Branch Code: 0041
UBL Cantt Branch, Rawalpindi, Saddar


omg you need a different color background/font. Its so hard to read!


Watching this, I felt more empathy for the trainers than the whales. YouTube the video of the orca drowning and killing a baby humphack whale with its mother, well, that's nature even if the orca are on the receiving end at our hands sometimes. The poor naive trainers though. Frankly I'm surprised you don`t need a marine biology degree with a focus on marine mammals to work as a trainer, but why was I thinking they acted like an aquarium would?
Clearly these trainers are prefered to be young and dumb and still think they are doing magic there. In hindsight, they all seem to realize wtf was I thinking then, but its after the fact, with plenty still involved. Clearly OSHA was on the right track, and they should go further and regulate only those with truly the proper education and knowledge be able to work with these animals.


I have never been more disturbed about the way we treat our fellow creatures on this Earth than I was after watching Blackfish. You must be one HELL of a heartless individual to think that is "ok". I would like to ask for just ONE example of how they are justified in treating these beautiful animals as they have…..


Seaworld is an amazing place, they are excellent at what they do and they are very successful. I have been to the shows with the killer whales multiple times and it seems like the whales, as well as the trainers, thoroughly enjoy what they do. I also went to the exhibit where you could view the killer whales both from above and below the water. I observed the whales playing with each other, rubbing each others bellies and swimming around with each other for approximately 10 minutes. One of the larger whales came up to the glass and stared my two year old daughter in the face for almost two minutes, she loved every second of it. From what i could tell the whales seemed extremely content to put on a show for those of us who were privileged enough to witness these magnificent animals in way that we never would have been able to if it were not for Seaworld. In regards to Tilikum, he is the alpha male of the park. I was born and raised on a farm, every animal we had on the farm that was a male and was not neutered, could not be trusted. The bulls (male cattle) we had on the farm were extremely inconsistent. I learned very quickly that with breeding bulls and breeding boars (male pigs) you NEVER turned your back on them and if you had to get into the pen with them you always left yourself a way of escape. These male animals could be your best friend one second and charging you the next. If there were females "in heat" these inconsistencies increased exponentially. It appears to be no different in Killer Whales but due to the size of these animals, the problem becomes much larger. Anyone who has experience with animals will know that the alpha male of any group of animals is not something to be toyed with, whether it be pigs, cows, whales, wolves, or any other animal, domesticated or not domesticated. Take this statistic regarding household pets: An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year2,3
Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care2
Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered-American Humane Association How many of you calling for Seaworld's head have a male dog? My point is this, working with animals in any facet of life is dangerous and comes with inherent risks. It doesn't mean that everyone who owns a dog should go out and euthanize their pet or that places like Seaworld should get rid of all of their animals, it means that we need to understand the risks and act accordingly, it seems that since the last death involving Tilikum, the procedures at Seaworld have changed and with good reason. Seaworld is an earth friendly establishment, promoting recycling and providing hundreds of much needed jobs to a struggling economy but remember, Seaworld is a business and they have to make money, they do this by providing ordinary people an extraordinary opportunity to interact with some of the most amazing animals this world has to offer and for that i am willing to pay, as long as it is done humanely and responsibly, both of which Seaworld is doing. Research it for yourself, learn about animals, don't just buy into it because they made a movie about it and don't believe it because it is popular, learn the facts. Another fun fact, PETA would have you to believe that Sled Dogs in Alaska (I am from Alaska) are tortured into pulling those sleds, one of my best friends had a sled dog team, if those dogs saw you working with any of the gear required to pull a sled they would get very excited because they thought you were taking them out, they were ecstatic not because they were tortured or mistreated but because they loved doing it. All i am saying people is educate yourselves and learn all of the facts, people throughout history have accomplished bad things with great intentions. God Bless. 1 Vote for Seaworld

Elizabeth Barajas

and even if seaworld hasn't taken a whale from the wild in forever it doesn't undermine the fact that they use terrible breeding practices. 1) tilikum (a whale with past aggressive behavior) shouldn't be used. 2) they masturbate male whales to get their sperm from them (weird) in the wild they would choose their own mate 3) the female whales who are bred years earlier than they would be in the wild..

use your brains

For the dark background against dark text comments, just highlight the text as you read along and read. It's simple! Not that hard. You click and drag and let go and read. It is not that difficult.

Fix your background

What is wrong with this website, you can't read anything as the text fades into the background


Assertion #2, from Seaworld's open letter on their site, said "SeaWorld’s killer whales’ life spans are equivalent with those in the wild. While studies continue to define the average life span of killer whales in the wild, the most recent science suggests that our killer whales’ life spans are comparable — indeed, five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50."

"— indeed, five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50."

"…five of our animals are older than 30,…"

"…five of our animals…"


Considering Seaworld has more animals than just whales, the wording could be carefully chosen.

Fuck Sea World

I love how they don't address the captivity and tiny pool living space, and not feeding the whales between and after shows issue.
Since they didn't address that, it only means they are guilty.
And they were lying again on each assertion.
Why wouldn't they? Why would they admit to the truth? That would make them look bad.

Todd Sturgell

Seaworld is pursuing a permit to remove pilot whales from the wild RIGHT NOW. If it sounds like they're assertion that they haven't taken an orca from the wild in forever is because they've realized the practice is barbaric, that's just another lie.

izumi yamada

Is there a way to change the background and lettering on this post? I would LOVE to read the article and have been following a related petition and this story for some time, but the colors of this layout are absolutely impossible to read. :-(


Blah Blah Blah, SeaWorld manipulative again !! SeaWorld Zoological team who are you kidding ? you should be stripped of your so called degrees ! you are no different than the fishermen whom murder the dolphins in Taiji Japan.


I wish we could read about SeaWorld's response to the filmmakers' responses to SeaWorld's assertions

…wait, what?


If the Sea World top execs feel it's so safe, why don't they simply film themselves swimming with the whales? I wish the inhuman scum who ran Sea World would all die prolonged an painful deaths. Amen.


This movie is amazing… at the same time it made me embarrassed to be a human. How shameful that there are people in the world that think that treating another living, breathing soul like that is ok!


What is the reasoning Seaworld does not just retire Tilikum? Maybe try to release him? The only conclusion I can come to, is Money. Tilikum IS is fact killing trainers….yet Seaworld is fighting to get him back in the water with trainers???????? huh??? Why would they even ask for that unless they are only in it for the money. If They truely cared about Tilikum, they would want what is BEST for HIM..not themselves…This whole thing show's their callasness and greed on an epic level. I am ashamed to be a human…I am just ashamed all the way around. I URGE all the people in every city, in every country around the world to get involved in fighting Seaworld….WE THE PEOPLE CAN win this battle…I am ashamed again because I signed a perition on The opening page said we need 1million signatures….yet, with 7BILLION humans on this earth…we can't fine 1 million to sign a petition?? What is wrong with us that we are so selfish and self absourbed that we can't [or don't] think or care about what we are doing to animals….ALL animals, on a daily basis….We are too busy to get involved….why??? Have any of you seen a Seaworld show? I watched one on utube the other day…the music was sooooo loud and horrible, I literally had to turn the Sound off…..I had a headache. Yet These whales/dolphins/seals ect…..have no choice but to listen alllll day every day, could any of you imagine? That alone should/would drive them absolutely insane..I am crying and I am ashamed….I hope we all are touched enough and sad enough by this story to get involved……I beg you all…


Hmmm, so many humans in here who live up to their true colours.
I find the study of human beings the most enjoying and when it comes down to all living creatures I must say humans win hands down without any competition from any other thing on this planet, what I find so hard to come to grips with is how so many humans feel they are above all else which just goes to show the attitudes of the many, not difficult to see why so many humans have no respect for much else, not even themselves.
I would love to cage you all for a while to see how you would fair out with being held in that way.
It comes to me with no surprise why I have to take sides with such intellectual animals before most humans and no wonder why I feel ashamed at times to be a human being myself but at least I have the knowledge of the many negative beings I have to live amongst.
Oh! Yeah, you may call me a moron or whatever you like as my brain can handle the petty things that others like to sling at me but you will only be confirming what you have just read, have you noticed anything with your attitude and why you are the way you are in yourself.
Now ask yourself what your intelligent level is.
Sad isn’t it, so who is the intellectual animal now.


An amazing documentary with facts to support any doubts about the film and their obtaining of information. To Rusty: I believe it was extremely important to include where Tilikum had come from because being knowledgable of orcas, which we would assume a marine park is, you would know that the whale has indeed been traumatized and could be mentally disturbed. Thus creating a hazard for trainers and as shown and described in the film, he actually did kill someone prior to Seaworld, proving my point. It did not matter if the history of Tilikum was "pre-Seaworld", the history would lead scientists to assume the whale was mentally unfit for training. So they had all the red flags that this whale should have been released to the wild and regardless, still went through with the purchase of Tilikum. I loved Orcas before Shamoo, so to assume people wouldn't care about this film without Seaworld or even know about orcas in the first place is completely ignorant.

I was so deeply inspired by this film. People deserve to know the truth about these marvelous animals! Words can not explain how happy I am that a film like this was finally made. Even in the "Free Willy" movie era, I got the notion that captivity for these animals is a terrible, awful idea. Hopefully this knowledge and truth about orcas can be learned around the world, because this magnificent, intelligent creature deserves to be know for what it truly is: not for entertainment, but for the astounding qualities it has as an animal. I loved this film I plan on sharing it to everyone I know! Hopefully there is a bright, no marine park life ahead of us!


I just finished Blackfish, what a documentary. I'm not sure if I'd ever go back to Seaworld again. That said, here's what I found weak about the film.

Clearly, Seaworld care more about the well being, strike that keeping the whale alive than trainer's life, if not the first thing they'd do is shoot the whale to save the trainer, it's a no brainer.

It's pretty much revolved around a few former trainers and expert witness against Seaworld. Many things were manipulated to make the audiences feel sorry for the whale, which is unnecessary. There's no need to show the capture of the whales 40 years ago because it's not what Seaworld is practicing, short clips would be enough unless the film maker was shooting for something else.

While I don't think I'd returned to Seaworld I still think that SW did a good job sending positive message about large marine mammals, orcas, dolphins, etc. That's why this documentary is effective, if no one cares about Shamoo this film would be just another blah, blah, blah.

Loren beatty

Sorry this is a bit late…but to Kevin…you are the very definition of an internet troll…


This is what I've been saying for years about dogs, cats, cows, horses and pigs! We should free all animal slaves! We should all follow the vegan lifestyle and love each other.


SeaWorld is spending their effort spuirting "PR ink," rather than addressing the "reality" of how large marine mammals live, interact and function within a artificial existence that cannot mimic or adequately reflect their natural environment.

If their were a "progressive" zoological organization that really cared about how Killer Whales should live they would have made enclosure modifications, social group selection, and public learning programs reflect how Killer Whales live in the wild (i.e. SD Wild Animal Park) vs. create "entertainment" shows that only serve to generate revenue.

Let's get real, SeaWorld is an entertainment, merchandising machine that uses (extorts) marine mammals for profit, not conservation. It's outreach for marine rescue and rehab is noble, but does not alter their treatment of Killer Whales.


Would love to share this article on Facebook. It looks as though it doesn't work. This needs more support and these parks need to reevaluate their methods.

Heidi McKillop

I found this documentary moving and heartfelt. I believe it is our duty to our planet and to our wild life to protect these amazing creatures. It is clear that the documentary was one-sided however this representation is a reflection and mirror to our current values in society; this is what makes it so emotional to watch. I hope there can be a balance between protecting these fascinating creatures while also giving them the respect and space they deserve. How do we protect them from poachers and humans who will destroy their natural habitat? I believe both captivty and the wild are dangerous places. Captivity it seems is unnatural, exploitive and extremely harmful to these animals; I think the trainers in the documentary should come together use their knowledge and compassion to make a safe reservoir for Orcas to exisit.

for the animals

To kevin: yes humans do perform as well. However, the difference is that we choose to. We give consent to be rewarded for performing; animals cannot give their consent. Humans do what they want when they want to animals to make a profit at the expense of the animals quality of life. It is simply not ethical.


Unreadable due to colors…. did you ever look at it????


Why did Apple Trailers drop listing Backfish under the "opened now" and from the "Top Reviewed from Rotten Tomatoes" listings?


I find it interesting that the text here on the first page of this article is hidden by a blacked background. Hacked?


Well, what do you expect when you take a hyperintellegent apex predator, give it the orca equivalent of PTSD at a early age, and trap it in a small, featureless enclosure with only occasional exposure to its own kind? I'm more surprised it hasn't killed every living thing it can reach from its tank.

To the "oh wahhh, why do they keep calling them killer whales?" crowd: Look, I've seen footage of orcas in the wild, and they are TERRIFYING. Great Whites don't have shit on Orcas. I've seen them tear 500 pound sea lions in half and then play elaborate games with the twitching, half-alive carcass. The only reason any trainer survives any encounter with an orca is because orcas can tell the difference between "half-monkey in suit that give me delicious fish when I do what it asks" and "tasty seal TO RIP APART".

And to the dude who said "oh they're animals, we can do what we want": look, I'm an omnivore. I raised cattle from a young age, and I've looked a creature in the eyes before killing and eating it, unlike most other human carnivores in the first world. But your attitude is crap. We are part of the circle of life, not its master, and cetacea are fellow apex predators that show learned behavior and intelligence beyond any other non-human animal, primates included. We owe it to them to treat them with dignity.


I don't really care if they are captive or not. Next thing you know someone will be bitching about killing cows for hamburger meat or chickens for food. They are animals and we can do with them whatever we want. I can't believe the thousands of people who get their panties in a wad for some whales!

David Neiwert

'Blackfish' was the name given these creatures by the Native Americans of the Northwest Coast, who saw them as a kind of people under the sea (in coastal mythology, they had their own tribes and longhouses). It's an honorary and mythological name.


Dark font on a black background. Was this done on purpose?


I am sickened by all of this.
We all have visited Sea Worlds , our zoos and its pains me to see any animal captive.Would you not?
I will have to seee this to hae more of a comment on it , however bottom line stop taking animals from their environment and stop be back yard breeding for lots.
We as humans always want to make a buck and Children we choose to have.
Does not mean animals do , just to fill our pockets so sad.
Please support your local animal shelters and dont wear furs!


As a zoologist I have to ask, WHAT ZOOLOGICAL FACILITIES?! I've never heard of them! Which outside body regulates all of this and makes sure everything is being checked and above board? People are not as ignorant as Sea World would like to think!

Bea Elliott

I live 38 miles from Sea World and would never consider spending my time/money supporting this place. How horrible to steal sentient beings from their homes and/or "breed" them for entertainment. Haven't we humans enough "toys" to amuse us without imprisoning others?
Sea World's property would make a fine orange grove again. Please leave Florida!


por favor dejenlos libres a estas pobres orcas!!!

tricia donegan

Sea World should be given a shovel @ keep digging that hole they have made for themselves They can not justify what they do NO species should be kept in prisons > @ they R saying they R breed in captivity ,whats the difference / Look at the Goldfish bowl they swim in/I hate to say it maybe there is a reason they R attacking their trainers


SeaWorld is just digging a deeper hole of lies. Eventually they will have to buckle and do right by stopping the orca program. But it will take a lot of pressure to get there.

mister monk strap

I think there's an error in your reporting. I believe David Koch pulled funding from WNET, not WNYC, for airing the documentary Park Avenue. WNYC is mostly a radio station.


Yeah it sucks. Sea World is depressing for anyone that isn't a little kid or an idiot. I moved to San Diego 12 years ago and I went when I first moved here that came witha s aeson pass because it was in the offseason. I was poor so I used that season pass a lot when out of town friends came to visit and I started bringing in fresh fish from the asian market and hooking up the dolphins, seals, walruses, and rays because it was better than the slimy crap the charged $12 for at the feeding booths.

Being a surfer and seeing those animals in captivity made me jsut want back my truck up to a tank and start loading. The whales at Sea World are more depressing than seeing lion at a zoo for me beause their range can be thousands of miles. Being stuck in a little pool must be terrible for them.


Is ORCA in comment 1 a pseuduonym for a SeaWorld representative or advocate? His/her points all seem both diversionary and unsubstantial. A consideration of SeaWorld's accusations alongside the filmmakers' straightforward and sensible responses makes it seem to me as if Seaworld's 8 "assertions" are all duplicitous attempts to poison the well.


Am I the only one bothered by the title?

Orca are mammals. I also find it interesting that they blame captivity for driving the orca insane, but then make a point of the offspring coming from an orca that has "killed 3 times" like its propensity for killing humans has a genetic component. I mean, technically it does in the sense that all orca are a) wild animals, and b) carnivores, and as such should be approached with caution and respect. This movie seems as sensational and exploitative as they claim Sea World to be. Why else insist upon calling them killer whales instead of orca?

And the horror-movie esque poster?

It's just tacky. Better suited for that Free Willy redux horror movie goof on youtube…or that horrible Orca movie from the 70s.

Daniel Jost


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