“Blackfish” by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Blackfish” tells the story of Tilikum, an aggressive orca that killed several SeaWorld trainers. Throughout the film, you don’t develop hatred toward Tilikum, but more so toward SeaWorld’s ethics and morals. Cowperthwaite accurately captures a collection of footage to illustrate the dangers of captivity among animals–nonetheless, one of the most emotional animals. A neuroscientist in the film points out a figment of an orca’s brain, in which humans do not have, that is a base for their emotional and cognitive reactions. This portion of the brain allows them to communicate with each other and derive emotions from specific actions.
What’s terrifying is SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas while in captivity. They are placed in a highly contrasted environment in comparison to the ocean, with 20 x 30 foot modules as a sleeping area. These conditions are incredibly small for the size and weight of these massive animals. Tilikum is just an example of how an animal is lashing out against poor treatment, and not from aggression towards humans.
I thought the documentary’s organization was very strategic. Cowperthwaite allows the viewer to create their own opinions and conclusions about the practices of SeaWorld. In no way does she directly sway your opinion, just displays the true facts and footage. The severity of SeaWorld’s inhumane practices are mind blowing; with OSHA and former SeaWorld trainer’s interviews to support that. These misconceptions and harmful conditions directly correlate to orca whales showing aggression. Cowperthwaite’s documentary accurately brings this issue to the light and encourages further action and support to end SeaWorld’s practices.