Netflix Review: Blackfish



Mia Egerman, Marissa Pycha, and Cloe Hartley



SeaWorld is advertised as a family-friendly park and aquarium. They’re best known for their interactive orca shows. Although it may seem like a fun excursion at SeaWorld, the treatment of the orcas is inhumane. Blackfish opened our eyes to the seemingly harmless domestication of such creatures. The documentary focuses on the mistreatment of the orcas at SeaWorld. It addresses the psychological impact of SeaWorld’s demands on the animals.  

The documentary was informative and exposed us to the cruelty behind the production. The former orca trainers in Blackfish revealed that their job was less about the treatment of the orcas and more about accumulating a profit. Their success was driven by their ability to perform, rather than a formal education on marine biology. Although the trainers form relationships with their whales, that doesn’t dismiss the unnatural conditions that the whales are made to endure.tilikum_05

Over 100 incidents were reported of orca aggression towards the trainers. Orca’s incompatibility with captivity shows through their actions but should be evaluated as resisting confinement, rather than bad behavior. For example, the whale’s dorsal fin can collapse from the perpetuity of swimming in circles. Although SeaWorld recognizes their orca’s fins collapsing, they deny the negative effects which is contrary to what scientific studies suggest.

Since Blackfish has been released, SeaWorld has taken steps towards helping the orcas. Specifically, they have ended their breeding program, redesigned the orca enclosures to simulate their natural environment, and since devised a plan to change their theatrical shows with orca enrichment programs. The new program plans to focus primarily on orca health and conservation, however, the orcas will still be on display for an audience. All the current orcas owned by SeaWorld will live out their lives in captivity. Although SeaWorld is making a conscious effort to better the lives on the orcas, it doesn’t excuse the domestication of innocent animals.