Before you read this post, just know that everything I write is strictly my opinion. When I reference the movie Blackfish, the only thing I took away from that was a more educated idea of what goes on. My feelings toward SeaWorld and other aquatic parks has always been the same and still remains the same after the movie.
I decided I'd try to break down my explanation in this post into sections based on some big factors as to why I don't support the captivation of wild animals at Seaworld... this means whales, dolphins, walruses, and more. I am really going to focus on the whale part for this post only because it's what I'm most educated on.
So here are my reasons why I don't support places like that.
1. Keeping an Orca in Captivity is Unnatural and Cruel.
a. When you see a pod of orca whales, it's not just a pod..it's actually a family unit...a big extended family unit. So when you remove one from the wild, out of it's pod, and you put it in captivity, even when it's with other whales, it won't be the same. Scientists that have studied the sounds that orcas make in their pod to communicate with each other actually tell us that each family has it's own language. It's almost like with people... we are all humans but some of us speak different languages. Would you like to be pulled out of your home right now and thrown into the middle of a busy street in France? You can't understand anyone and even if you make friends with them, it's not your original comfortable unit.
b. In the wild, the males surround the perimeter and stay away from the females, since the males are supposed to protect their family, duh... so when you put several orcas in a tank together, it's unnatural. This is why some whales, such as Tilikum (the whale behind the fatal attack of Dawn Brancheau in 2010) start to become aggressive. They are bullied and beat up by females and they have no where to go. How would you feel if you were a man, and someone threw you into a small room with 5 squawking yelling women that push you, pull your hair, and kick you? Well, wouldn't you snap one day?
This clip from the movie Blackfish explains more:
c. Orca brain scans show that the emotional part of their brain is active even more than in humans...that means they are more emotional and have stronger emotional bonds to their pod members. So when you pluck them from the wild and continue to breed them and keep every orca in a small unnatural family unit type grouping in a tank, it's just not healthy for them mentally and emotionally. And it makes them depressed. And even if you have trainers interacting with them, it's NOT the same....Whales are predators of the sea.... there is not many other creatures in the ocean that can kill them, so they need to be amongst their own!
2. There's a heartbreaking process behind the way they "get" their whales.
Imagine you and your whole family are together for the Holidays, ready to eat a meal. As you start to gather around the table, large nets begin closing in on you so no one can get away. Then a large stretcher-type device picks you up and away from your family. You yell for them and they yell for you. Also, imagine if you watched your younger brother get picked up and plucked away from you. You're helpless and you don't understand what the HELL is going on. This is how they get their whales. And once they have a baby captured, they let the nets down...but you know something.... the other whales don't leave. They stay and cry and watch and try to communicate with the baby. That is truly truly truly heartbreaking. If you can honestly imagine that scenario and not be completely turned off by it, then I guess the rest of what I write won't matter. But here's a clip from Blackfish that explains everything I just described above.
3. Orcas don't understand their trainers the way we think they do.
So you think this is all okay, because, you know, the whales are trained..right? Well ponder this..... here's a specific story from Blackfish where it explained something occured right before Tilikum's fatal attack on Dawn Brancheau. Tili was instructed to start following the perimeter of his pool while waving to the audience. Dawn blew the whistle to indicate it was time to stop and come back to her for further instruction. Tilikum kept going. Some observers truly believe that Tilikum didn't even notice the whistle, which hey, that totally can happen seeing as how there's loud music, a cheering audience, splashing water, and lots going on! So Tilikum continued around the entire perimeter of the pool waving. Then returned to Dawn, expecting a reward for his trick. Instead, Dawn had to do what many trainers use as a way to inform a whale that they didn't do what they were asked to. It's basically a pause with a neutral body language basically not acknowleding that any part of the trick was done correctly. And the whale doesn't get it's reward..which is food. Well imagine what Tilikum thought..."I did my trick, why am I not getting rewarded?" What happens if you neighbor tells you to mow their lawn and they'll pay you. So you start mowing and then they yell out to you to stop because they don't need the whole yard done. But you can't hear past the loud mower engine, so you keep going. You come to the door to get your payment afterwards, they stare at you and close the door. What would you feel.... Confused? Angry? Resentful? BINGO!!!!!! So at this point Tilikum was agitated and took it personal because I'm sorry but you can't explain to a whale that they didn't do their entire trick, when part of it was due to a misunderstanding. This type of thing can happen A LOT... so just imagine how confusing it is.
I hope you will watch the movie and educate yourself and help spread the word. Even celebs and well known and respected individuals are standing up again SeaWorld and others, some by spreading the word and some by backing out of appearances at the water park!
We WILL make a difference, because if we don't...who will?