Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Eric Kohn
January 20, 2013 9:58 AM
  • |

Sundance Review: 'Blackfish' Ensures You'll Never Go to SeaWorld Again

Nobody from SeaWorld agreed to an interview for "Blackfish," Gabriela Cowperthwaite's searing take on the theme park's mistreatment of killer whales and the dozens of deaths that have resulted from it. Instead, the majority of its subjects are ex-SeaWorld trainers frustrated by the negligence they witnessed up close and willing to speak out. Nevertheless, based on the evidence on display in "Blackfish," Cowperthwaite's case against SeaWorld would change little with an opposing point of view. The movie makes a strong case against the captivity of killer whales under sub-circus conditions, but the stance is made even more horrifying because so little has changed in the history of the organization. "Blackfish" is less balanced investigation than full-on takedown of a broken system.

Cowperthwaite's framing device is the February 2010 death of veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was ripped to shreds by the notorious Tilikum, a whale responsible for two other deaths along with other human injuries since getting captured in the early 1980s. However, "Blackfish" tracks countless other incidents across several decades of orca whale training, all of which coalesce into a stinging assertion that SeaWorld both relies on animal abuse and carelessly puts its employees in constant danger.

It's one thing to hear disgruntled former employees and activists complain, but "Blackfish" draws much of its disturbing power from a plethora of video documentation showing various attacks. In every case, the aggressive whales initially strike their naive caretakers as well-adjusted beings. "I liked to think the relationship was about more than fish," says one former trainer. It's that presumed two-way bond that enables trainers to justify their work; the ongoing contrast between footage of grinning young trainers hopping about with whales and the tearful reminiscences they provide for the camera provides a devastating critique of the aquatic animal business.

Cowperthwaite threads recollections and archival footage together into an engrossing overview. However, because "Blackfish" barely exists in the present moment -- aside from an epilogue, the story begins and ends with the 2010 tragedy -- the limitation prevents it from injecting its story with the immediacy that the filmmaker clearly strives to obtain. Still, "Blackfish" forms an effective case against the entire institution of SeaWorld by placing it in a terrifying historical context.

As a work of journalism, "Blackfish" delivers a fierce condemnation
Flashing back to 1970, the movie tracks the initial Washington state attack in which SeaWorld hired fishermen to illegally kidnap infant orcas from their mothers. This well-documented event takes on particular gravitas in a contemporary account provided by one of the fishermen from the hunt, a man wrecked by guilt as he recalls his order to hide the accidental deaths of several whales by loading their carcasses with rocks. His candid admission stands in for the lack of similarly forthcoming SeaWorld bureaucrats.

As a work of journalism, "Blackfish" delivers a pretty damning condemnation: No clandestine maneuver on SeaWorld's part could possibly discount the destructive impact of orca captivity proven herein. The documentary's title, a reference to a Native American name for the animals, points to the majestic, reverential authority they assert in the wild, a freedom drained when they get stuck in claustrophobic tanks. "Try spending most of your life in a bathtub," someone says. "See if it doesn't make you a little psychotic."

The pile-up of anecdotes and rants make SeaWorld's entire operation look criminal. However, "Blackfish" often repeats the same assertions in its various cases of deadly incidents, deadening the argument by its final third. But even when it has already established the main line of attack, the movie retains its accusatory tone with good reason.

To justify the ex-trainers' profound empathy for the orcas, Cowperthwaite includes scientific proof of their intelligence, including a brain scan that demonstrates their "highly elaborate emotional lives." The evidence piles up in the fragments of images and factoids, including the distressing bent fins that afflict many captive whales and the assertion that no known incidents of attacks against humans have been recorded in the wild.

Because it involves the abuse of intelligent sea animals, the easiest point of comparison in the documentary arena is the dolphin slaughter documentary "The Cove," but a more relevant precedent of recent memory is "Project Nim," where an ill-fated attempt to domesticate chimps leads to the realization that you can't tame nature. "Blackfish" hails from that same school of thought, making the unsettling case that SeaWorld's live acts of entertainment are in fact a expensively veiled form of torture.

Criticwire grade: A-

HOW WILL IT PLAY? Premiering in competition at Sundance, "Blackfish" is sure to stir up controversy and a response from SeaWorld. Its news hook guarantees it can generate widespread conversation and stands to perform well in theaters with a distributor capable of playing up that discussion.

You might also like:


  • drivas2882@aol.com | September 8, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    Blackfish is a joke. It dwells on the past and gives a biased look at captivity. After its 15 minutes of fame are over and all the pc people see it and update their facebook statuses to join the cause they will forget about it and go back to their happy lives and the same few angry peta activists will continue their ridiculous fight while 12 million people continue to visit seaworld as they do yearly now. Lmao at this film.

  • .. | November 25, 2013 9:59 PM

    I really think youre missing the point. To choose to do something is great, but being aware is enough. Simply because of ignorant youth such as yourself, is why America will never improve.

  • Justin Case | August 30, 2013 10:52 AMReply

    "Flashing back to 1970", wow that's 43 years ago. I have so many questions, let's begin. Why does it matter if there is no fatally documented wild attack? Can you find one for tigers? How many people have tigers killed in zoos? Are whales more important than tigers? Is a death or two in 50 years really that bad? Is it still captivity if the animals were born there? Should dog breeders be arrested? Should people be allowed to have pets? If I release my dog into the wild and he dies am I responsible? Is it still captivity if he comes back on his own free will? Can you prove without a doubt that insects such as ants, or bees are less intelligent than dolphins? Do you lose sleep killing 15,000 animals when there is an ant-hill on your lawn? Didn't think so...

  • Rachel | January 13, 2014 9:42 AM

    1. Dogs are domesticated. Orcas are not. So there goes your entire dog argument.
    2. There's been more than "a death or two." There's been over 40 documented incidents since 1968, with at least 5 of them resulting in fatalities.
    3. Tigers and other ENDANGERED terrain animals kept in captivity (often for population-control reasons) lead somewhat comfortable lives; they are given decent space and stimulation to thrive. Creating an adequate habitat for an orca is next to impossible.

    Next time, think before you post.

  • phil | August 3, 2013 8:08 AMReply

    There is some video of the death of Sumar at SeaWorld San Diego on YouTube:

    "Killer Whale Dies at SeaWorld - Raw Video - September 7, 2010"

  • Rachel | January 13, 2014 9:42 AM

    1. Dogs are domesticated. Orcas are not. So there goes your entire dog argument.
    2. There's been more than "a death or two." There's been over 40 documented incidents since 1968, with at least 5 of them resulting in fatalities.
    3. Tigers and other ENDANGERED terrain animals kept in captivity (often for population-control reasons) lead somewhat comfortable lives; they are given decent space and stimulation to thrive. Creating an adequate habitat for an orca is next to impossible.

    Next time, think before you post.

  • Lisa Pagano, Graham WA | July 29, 2013 8:11 PMReply

    Glad you gave this movie an A. I was starting to think your writing was going wrong. This is just the surface, more will come and people will change. Keep up your good writing, please be on the whale's side!

  • Denise | July 16, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    Hi there. Just recently found out about Blackfish and just read the assertions from Sea World. I see a very complicated problem here. First, it is not natural for animals to be in captivity, and anyone who believes that are just in denial. Secondly there are rules that must be upheld or the parks shut down. On the flip side, however, education and up close and personal experiences that the parks and zoos provide help us become aware of the beauty of not just whales but all animals. The oceans and forests are being depleted and destroyed by the human race and very soon the only place to see these animals will be at a zoo or an aquarium. I, for one, at that point, will be very happy that the parks and zoos have spent all these years trying to understand and execute the proper housing of these animals. Because, they will survive the human raping of the natural world. My view on Tilikum is that he should be retired. He is obviously sick of the entertainment industry, and I can't say I blame him! The deaths that have preceded and the deaths that are sure to will follow are tragic on every level. Let's not allow the abusive tendencies of a few (animal or people) darken the beauty of human/animal interaction. I'm sure there are a lot of captive animals who really bond with their trainers and caretakers. Of course it would be better to have these experiences in the wild, but not all of us can. I went to SeaWorld when I was 18, and out of that experience, cetaceans became my favorite animals in the whole animal kingdom. The respect and knowledge I gained from that experience has lasted a life time. I went behind the scenes on that trip and saw the hospital section where they house all the sick animals. I got up close and personal with a Beluga whale. She came over to the edge of her hospital tank and rubbed up against me, she watched me curious. There was no anger or feeling of being trapped in her eyes. I'm saying here that she was loved by her people and she returned that love to a complete stranger she had never seen before. It was amazing. To summarize, I wish we didn't have to have these animals in captivity or any others for that matter, and I feel that if there is abuse it should be aggressively addressed. But, I also feel that in the future, when there are no wild animals anywhere, it will give hope and imagination to the coming generations who will have no animal experiences outside of a park. For the animals, well, who wants to live in a pool? But, rather that then not exist at all. Again, I want to reiterate that I do not agree with animal captivity, but I cannot ignore the value of what they are trying to do.

  • nicola | May 31, 2013 2:26 PMReply

    what does tilikum get out of this?

  • tursiops | April 28, 2013 2:43 AMReply

    This documentary is full of misleading lies with an agenda. It's obvious when it follows the opinions of former trainers which have been let go by SeaWorld.

  • SaraElizabeth | May 18, 2013 4:56 PM

    Excuse me, but you could not be more incorrect. All documentaries have an 'agenda', I suppose, the one this film has rings entirely true. The evidence is out there; this film, like others before it, is trying to expose the seedy underbelly of selfish individuals who have literally kidnapped these intelligent beings from their families and put them in glorified swimming pools to perform monotonous tricks for petty entertainment. And that's a pretty damn good 'Agenda', in my opinion. Why do you think that SeaWorld refused to provide an interview? Why do you think these former trainers left SeaWorld? Because having cetaceans in captivity is ethically WRONG. It is impossible to replicate these creatures natural environments in a POOL. Their lives are shorter for a variety of reasons - which you might know about if you would actually bother to do some research instead of just reading this article and arbitrarily deciding you didn't agree with it when you clearly have no idea what you're talking about. Where do you get off saying this documentary is full of lies when it is so clear you have done absolutely no research on the subject? Get your facts straight before you make such untruthful and counter-productive comments.

  • Gina | January 30, 2013 12:12 AMReply

    Can't wait to see the film and show it to my students and family. We all hope in our lifetime to see captivity and forced performances of cetaceans banned forever.

  • Laura Hillman | January 25, 2013 8:48 PMReply

    Any one who thinks Sea World does not still have thier hands in the captive industry pie is an idiot. They are called loop holes...most enviromental and animal protection laws have them if not all of them. Really people get your heads out of the sand.

  • Annelies Haussler | January 25, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    End the cruelty! There is no difference between the exploitation of orcas and other marine mammals for banal human entertainment and throwing captive humans into an arena with wild animals (only this time, it is we who are the "animals").

    I am never, ever, ever going to set foot in another aquarium again. Good-bye, Sea World. You've done enough damage.

  • Lifeforce Foundation | January 24, 2013 4:20 PMReply

    The debate continues about the orca (killer whale) known as Tillikum that contributed to a third human death. This time a trainer at Sea World. In 1991 he and two others caused the death of a trainer at the now defunct Sealand of the Pacific, Victoria, Canada. As with other orcas and dolphins imprisoned in aquarium tanks there is an extreme history of physical and psychological abuse. In this case, during evenings Tillikum and two females were lock up in a steel pen called the "holding module". It measured only approximately 25' x 30' . And it was only 12' deep. Nootka IV was sent to SeaWorld Florida. She died after 12 years of captivity. Haida and son Ky were sent to SeaWorld Texas. Haida died after 19 years of captivity. In the wild, females can live over 90 years. There are many injuries at SeaWorlds and other aquariums - some very serious. Many are not made public and settled out out of court. In 2004 Tillikum's son Ky attacked a trainer. Lifeforce is calling for an inquest into the recent death.
    Watch: Tillikum: A Time for Change

  • tursiops | April 28, 2013 2:46 AM

    and lifeforce knows so much about how to work around large marine mammals. Stop spreading your false facts, anyone who looks up non-biased research will see how well animals live under human care. Marine Parks do more for cetaceans than organizations and their agendas

  • Lifeforce Foundation | January 24, 2013 4:32 PM

    Lifeforce provided evidence to the government proving that SeaWorld was fully aware of the previous death. In 1991 Lifeforce advised them to not put trainers in the pools.

  • Lifeforce Foundation | January 24, 2013 4:25 PM

    An inquest was not done but the US government did sue over lack of safety issues and won.

  • Alfredo Kuba | January 24, 2013 1:45 PMReply


    I am a plaintiff in a law suit against Sea World (Shit World) for violating my and others like myself constitutional rights of free speech. Sea World has been doing this for over 22 years now but it will come to an end soon.

  • Alfredo Kuba | January 24, 2013 12:16 PMReply

    Stripped of their dignities, robbed of their freedom, families and everything that it is natural to them and coerced to do demeaning acts on command. All for greed and to amuse otherwise unintelligent people.

  • Lisa Cuttolo | June 4, 2013 10:34 PM

    Animals don't have peoples rights.. they're animals... And if they did, Tilikum would be in jail, or dead because he has killed three people.

  • britney | January 23, 2013 8:37 AMReply

    where can i watch "Blackfish" in full?

  • ... | November 25, 2013 9:52 PM

    Lisa Cuttolo, youre absolutely right. Animals dont have people rights. Because theyre animals. And I'll tell you what, with all we put animals through, killing them for food, skinning them for coats, and kidnapping their family members because we like to watch them do degrading tricks for less than a snack size of food, I dont blame them. You know why? Because like you said, they are animals. Quite frankly though, if I were in their situation, I dont think I would or could ever handle it as well as many of these captive animals have.

  • sara | July 23, 2013 10:18 AM

    He's in jail already, and has been for most of his life. This is why there are 3 people dead.

  • brook | June 12, 2013 1:37 AM

    Tilikum is a wild animal. He doesn't understand his circumstances. He is reacting as a wild animal should. You put a person around him- he will kill them . His "right" is to live in the wild and be wild. Humans have robbed him of that and we only have ourselves to blame.

  • Sarah | January 22, 2013 6:27 AMReply

    You can have a glimpse of live in captivity from the point of view of a dolphin (remember, orcas are the largest species in the dolphin family), in my blog entry "Captive"

  • Pete | January 22, 2013 2:43 AMReply

    For those of you saying that this is a dangerous profession that should be banned because it's dangerous. If this is your reasoning, please tell me why we don't ban NASCAR or football, or any other dangerous activity/sport for that matter?

  • And | June 5, 2013 1:19 AM

    And this is different from what we do to hundreds of other animal species how? Last time I checked pigs were one of the most intelligent animals out there and the conditions many of them are reared and slaughtered in would certainly be considered worse than those orcas are kept in. Ah, but that's right, pigs aren't considered "majestic", which seems to be the main trait most people look at when they decide which animals are worthy of special treatment.
    For the record I'm not against the slaughter of animals for sustenance, but the double standards people use when selectively being outraged over animal cruelty is pretty stupid.

  • Alfredo Kuba | January 24, 2013 12:22 PM

    the big difference PETE! is that on Nascar, Football, "sport", the participants are willing participants! They have not been forced nor have they been imprisoned, denied everything natural to them and nor have they been enslaved and forced to do degrading acts on command!
    How can you not see this?

  • Suzanne | January 22, 2013 9:01 AM

    Because those who participate in such pastimes are there by choice, the animals in marine theme parks are not. It's that simple. Surely you get it?

  • Joren | January 21, 2013 3:11 PMReply

    It's interesting reading about Seaworld knowing that they demanded one of their Orcas back from Marineland in Ontario, Canada because they didn't like how it was being kept. Given that Seaworld has a really dark history of animal abuse, I'm not sure if this speaks well(ish)of Seaworld or extremely bad about Marineland. Maybe a little of one and a lot of the other.

    Currently, Marineland keeps it's one solitary Orca in a swimming pool. At least the US has rules that they can't be kept in solitary confinement.

    I look forward to the day, hopefully in my lifetime, that places like this don't exist anymore and we simply leave ocean and zoo animals where they belong - in the wild.

  • Christine Craft | January 21, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Free Tilly!

  • Edith | January 21, 2013 1:13 PMReply

    Amanda | January 21, 2013 12:55 PM Except Seaworld hasn't captured any wild orcas for over 20 years so...there goes your argument...
    Actually Amanda, Sea World's 'Loro Parque' in Tenerife have a young wild caught orca called Morgan which they refuse to return to the wild, despite court cases by activists. The only reason they haven't captured any for display in America is the public outcry that would follow there.

  • Alfredo Kuba | January 24, 2013 1:38 PM

    I hope you are not suggesting that raping Orcas through artificial insemination, force them to give birth in prison and then enslave the new born in a prison and exploit to death these intelligent creatures is acceptable?

  • Cathy | January 21, 2013 10:25 AMReply

    How it happened..cant believe....just check http://2.gp/qmuE

  • Jessica | January 21, 2013 2:59 AMReply

    Who's rich? SeaWorld execs. Jim Atchison, CEO made $395,000 last year. James Heaney, CFO made $825,000. Daniel Brown, COO $537,000. Anybody can borrow a Nature DVD from the library, but these guys are convincing you they have a monopoly on "nature" and laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Jessica | January 21, 2013 3:00 AM

    Thanks Bloomberg Business for the names and numbers.

  • Nai'a | January 21, 2013 1:29 AMReply

    thats another thing Kirby is a one sided person. the book didint really focus well it was all over the Place. if you ging to talk about seaworld do it right, opening both sides of the arguement Keeping Those who never worked at seaworld out of it. Naomi Rose has nothing to do with seaworld company. Why add her crappy story in? Things like this should be left alone. only a few wild born orcas left and i can assure you they will be there until their deaths in old age and with their current pod. Movies like this and books like D@SW dont do anything people will continue to go to parks and share it with their children. because unlike you, we arent rich here.

  • Helmut | January 21, 2013 2:18 AM

    Who's rich?? I'm not, and completely against cetaceans in captivity, including many people I know who aren't rich either.
    Do you really have to be rich to go on a small boat out to sea and appreciate the beauty of such animals, wild and free in their natural environment? And according to you, if you aren't rich, that's an excuse to live in ignorance and refuse to evolve as a human being? Sad.
    "Movies like this and books like D@SW dont do anything people will continue to go to parks and share it with their children."
    You have no idea the influence, changes and awareness that are brought about by such books and films; and more of them will come out.
    Here is a little quote for you from Ernst Fischer:
    In a decaying culture, Art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, Art must show the world as changeable, and help to change it.

  • Nai'a | January 21, 2013 1:24 AMReply

    Nope, Still going to seaworld, This movie is nothing but another profit builder for the anticap community who continues to drag out the death of Ms. Brancheau for nothing but profit. I hope seaworld sues the pants off you guys for slander

  • .. | November 25, 2013 9:57 PM

    Na'a, i hope one day your family is ripped form you and you are all by yourself in an oversized tub, starving, with people of different ages, languages, where no one will understand you or hear your cries for help. Maybe then you will change your perspective on who needs to be sued. Until then, enjoy your freedom.

  • Julia | January 25, 2013 5:32 PM

    Profit, profit, sue the pants off... You, Nai'a, are all about money just like your precious SeaWorld, I see. And yes, the anti-cap community will continue talking about Ms. Brancheau's death for as long as it is necessary for people like you to realize why exactly she died.

  • Alfredo Kuba | January 24, 2013 1:40 PM

    You should be against any creature being captive. Not just cetaceans........

  • Roger Symonds | January 21, 2013 8:00 PM

    Nai'a, i think you being naive, seaworld will never sue knowing truth will come out. I think dragging" is the wrong word....commerating the name of Ms. Brancheau is more like it, keep spending your money at seaworld supporting there abusive methods.

  • Paul Carry | January 20, 2013 11:20 PMReply

    This is absolutely disgusting! Making money of a person's death and using it against the thing she loved the most. I hope that this movie will flop pathetically just like it deserves to. I wouldn't even think about buying a ticket!

  • Julia | January 25, 2013 5:35 PM

    And what did she love the most? Making intelligent animals do tricks for fish? Somebody should try doing it to you.

  • NameJack Sutton | January 21, 2013 7:53 PM

    I personally know the individuals behind this production and trust me they do not need the money furthermore they donate and contribute yearly more to charity then most make in a lifetime. I recommend in the future before shooting nonsense out of your mouth you verify and check the facts!

  • jerome drossart | January 21, 2013 1:10 AM

    If you managed to finish reading the entire review, you'll see that it is about a lot more than just Dawn's death. Judging the movie without even seeing it, tells me you already had your mind made up on the subject. Personally, what disgusts me the most, is making money on exploiting these intelligent animals in such deplorable conditions.

  • Steve Joven | January 20, 2013 8:53 PMReply

    Really... I think there are more important things going on in the world. Good luck with your tree hugging. I hope this film flops.

  • Hella | February 26, 2013 9:16 AM

    Why would the suffering of other human beings be more important than the suffereing of non-human species... All species all equal here, all sharing the same planet. It's people like you that have created the image that the human species is dominant to everything and everyone else. Hence the world is in the state it is. Without us there wouldn't be "more important things going on in the world". Maybe think a bit more before posting these kind of ignorant comments.

  • Julia | January 25, 2013 5:36 PM

    Really... Good luck with your navel-gazing.

  • Brian | January 21, 2013 5:11 PM

    This is a micro spec of humanity in general. Exploiting everyone and everything for profit and personal gain. I don't understand why you read the article and then posted a message that was meant to incite people who care.
    You are what's wrong with humanity. Not only do you not care you mock those that do.

  • deborah archer | January 21, 2013 11:07 AM

    exploitation of these beautiful creatures must stop the world wants to wake up and look at how these whales (and dolphins) end up in captivity if they did they would never put money into the pockets of these people

  • jerome drossart | January 21, 2013 1:14 AM

    If there are more important things going on in the world, why don't you deal with them instead of wasting you're time here?

  • john wright | January 20, 2013 8:47 PMReply

    Disgusting, Fascist so called animal activists. So only rich,elitists get to see the worlds animal wonders. Disagree and support zoos and aquariums and wear the wrong type of clothing gets you harassed to no end. Most responsible corporations treat the animals better than some countries treat their citizens. Hopefully the radical activists will remain marginalized and continue to be recognized as nut jobs by the majority of people.

  • Julia | January 25, 2013 5:48 PM

    "So, only rich, elitists get to see the world's animal wonders."
    God, this blatant self-victimization would have been charming if it wasn't so pathetic. Ooh, I don't have money to travel to Africa, so I'll go to a zoo to see a monkey in a cage and feel like the KING OF NATURE. No. Not really. Just a retard who came to a zoo.

  • Tiina | January 21, 2013 6:55 PM

    I support freedom for Orcas and other dolphins and whales, yet I'm not a rich person, neither am I vegan or an extremist.
    I developed a love for orcas from a young age, yet I had never even seen one. And the only place I ever want to see them is in the wild, even if it takes years to get to do so.

    All I want to say is that If people have a real passion for some animal or animals they do whatever it takes to get a chance to see them in the wild and not in zoos. And one will most definitely not make money the obstacle if one has real interest in fulfilling their dreams and have the least bit of respect for the animal.

  • jerome drossart | January 21, 2013 1:26 AM

    ...the majority of people.
    Yep, and the masses are asses.

  • Angela | January 20, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    Perhaps most distressing is the fact that one of the orcas captured in the 1970s--Lolita (known also as Tokitae) has spent over 40 years in captivity in Florida, living the life of a slave to entertain people. Her family still survives as part of the federally endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population in the Pacific Northwest, of which less than 100 individuals remain. She lives and performs in the smallest tank in the US--smaller than is currently legal for killer whales. She has been kept away from killer whales for most of her life ever since her wild-caught companion killed himself by bashing his head against the concrete wall of the tank--incredibly sad for a social animal to be kept from others of their species. There is a well-thought-out plan for her retirement to a sea pen where her family lives, and scientists fully support the plan, but the marine park will not let her go, even for a million dollar offer. It's so hard to think of her dying there when her family members are free. There are whales over 90 years old in the population and there is a good chance she could eventually be released from the sea pen successfully. If not, at least she would have room to swim and breathe fresh cool air and feel the rain and hear her native language spoken.

  • Dyan Kane | January 20, 2013 5:21 PMReply

    I am an animal rights advocate, currently focussed on the issue of the Taiji Japan daily dolphin and pilot whale slaughter, and Taiji 's capture of dolphins for Seaquarims such as Seaworld (sold for $150,000 per dolphin, to the billion dollar per year industry.) If we animal advocates are resourceful, we can all use the evidence in this film alone to finally drive the nail in the coffin and end the tragedy of dolphins and whales in captivity for entertainment and profit, for the very same species (humans) that tore them from their natural and mysterious life in our dying oceans.

  • Helmut | January 22, 2013 4:18 AM

    correction, one dolphin for $150,000

  • Helmut | January 22, 2013 4:12 AM


    I suggest you watch a documentary called A Fall From Freedom, it explains how parks in the US are indirectly involved with Taiji.
    And in the film The Cove some did say it was tradition, even though most Japanese outside the island were not even aware of it, while others said dolphins were "pests" eating all the fish(!) What's funny is that dolphin meat in Japan is fairly cheap, as opposed to just one dolphin fit for "entertainment" which can be sold for as much as $300,000. You figure out the big motivator behind Japan's dolphin drive fishery.

  • Luis | January 22, 2013 2:36 AM

    Your argument is invalid. The movie 'The Cove' is full of framing and misdirected information.
    So you say Taiji is selling dolphins to dolphinariums. Yeah you're right about that. But it doesn't sell to the US. If you look at all the "trainers" at the cove, they're all asian - no Americans!
    In the documentary itself, the main guy asks one of the fishermen "If we paid you money for every dolphin that you sold, would you stop the drives." Can you guess what the fisherman said? It was something along the lines of "No, this is our tradition." So if you ever want to stop these dolphin drives, focus on changing the mindset of these "traditions." It's a lot like using rhino horn for medicine, it's been a tradition for thousands of years, and many Asians are unwilling to give it up. Conservationists are trying to change that mindset by showing scientific data that it's just keratin - the same thing your fingernails are made out of.

    Sorry, I just hate when people bring up The Cove.

  • Amanda | January 21, 2013 12:55 PM

    Except Seaworld hasn't captured any wild orcas for over 20 years so...there goes your argument...

  • Ria | January 20, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    Thank goodness this film has come out. Kudos to those standing up against captivity. So many people are afraid to speak out against seaworld who think because they have so much money they can hide their dirty laundry with a few dollars more. Not this time eh?

  • Brook | January 20, 2013 1:51 PMReply

    I have spent years organizing protests outside of SeaWorld and I always sickened by how little the public really knows about this greedy corrupt company. Once you educate them they are horrified by what is going on there and vow to never go again. Most people don't know the facts and this film couldn't have come at a better time to educate the people on the dark side of marine captivity. I hope Seaworld and other marine parks will quickly become a thing of the past.

  • Jessica | January 20, 2013 12:25 PMReply

    The trainer killed by Tilikum in 2010 was the third person this whale killed: Keltie Lee Byrne in 1991 and Daniel Dukes in 1999. Three people killed by one whale seems like a lot to me! And there have been plenty of other non-fatal accidents settled out of court by SeaWorld and subject to gag orders. I recommend Death at SeaWorld by David Kirby for an in depth look at how the public display industry fails whales and people.

  • Tiina | January 20, 2013 11:10 AMReply

    @Braulio Mendez : They're not talking about humans, they're talking about orcas. Dozens and even more orcas have died in captivity and will continue to die if more are captured or if they're bred in captivity. I recommend you read the first sentence again.

  • Braulio Mendez | January 20, 2013 10:31 AMReply

    Dozens of deaths? I thought there were only three.

  • No One | January 20, 2013 7:55 PM

    A quick look at wikipedia has about 30 documented attacks on humans in marine parks. It's surprising that there haven't been more deaths.

  • Linda Raizenne | January 20, 2013 11:07 AM

    in dozens of deaths he's referring to other Orcas not humans

  • jennifer thomas | January 20, 2013 11:01 AM

    They are not just referring to trainer deaths...there have been dozens of Orca deaths..not including still-births.
    I applaud blackfish for joining all the others who have and currently are trying to not just stop this from continuing...that these wonderful creatures deserve to be left in the wild...but that Sea World is a cruel institution for the Orcas/dolphins and it needs to stop!
    If people want to see Orcas ans dolphins..then see them happy and free in the wild..don't contribute to their tormented..captive..cruel treatment at Sea World (and others that exploit and mistreat these animals)....don't by a ticket!

  • jennifer thomas | January 20, 2013 11:01 AM

    They are not just referring to trainer deaths...there have been dozens of Orca deaths..not including still-births.
    I applaud blackfish for joining all the others who have and currently are trying to not just stop this from continuing...that these wonderful creatures deserve to be left in the wild...but that Sea World is a cruel institution for the Orcas/dolphins and it needs to stop!
    If people want to see Orcas ans dolphins..then see them happy and free in the wild..don't contribute to their tormented..captive..cruel treatment at Sea World (and others that exploit and mistreat these animals)....don't by a ticket!