‘Blackfish’ stirring up more trouble for Sea World

Tillikum Image Source: www.electric-shadow.com

Image Source: www.electric-shadow.com

Exciting news this past week! A bill has been introduced by Richard Bloom, the Assemblyman for California’s 50th district, and the chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Transportation, that would ban the use of orcas for entertainment and stunt shows like those that draw in the crowds at SeaWorld, and allow them only to keep killer whales in captivity for research, rescue, and rehabilitation.

They would also no longer be permitted to breed their orcas. Tillikum, the orca who is the main focus of the documentary, ‘Blackfish’, has sired 21 calves. One might wonder why Sea World thought it was a good idea to breed the whale that has lead to three human deaths. I don’t want to go on a rant, but these are large intelligent animals and a small pool isn’t enough room for one whale, they thought it was a good idea to bring 21 more into a captive world?

This bill would apply to everyone, not just Sea World, although Sea World San Diego is currently the only place in California showing captive orcas. Anyway, eventually, they would be required to free their orcas into the wild or an open water sea pen where they can have more room to swim and socialize than in their tiny concrete pools.

I say this is good news and a step in the right direction for our large marine friends. If you haven’t seen ‘Blackfish’ yet, I highly recommend you do. It is available for instant streaming on Netflix and I’m sure you can watch it countless other places as well.

P.S. Despite what Sea World would tell you, dorsal fin collapse is NOT normal.


Dolphin Personhood

This is pretty exciting! A draft for a new law has been presented to the Romanian government that would give dolphins rights similarly afforded to humans. These rights include the right to life, the right to bodily integrity, the right to freedom, and the right to be protected in their own environment.

Some of you may have heard about a similar movement last year in India which lead to a ban on dolphin captivity in the country. Stories like this, and films and documentaries like Blackfish, are moving things in a very promising direction. News like this brings hope for intelligent captive wildlife everywhere!

Here are a couple of articles about the dolphin personhood movement:

Romanian Dolphin Personhood Law is a Step in the Right Direction by Laura Bridgeman

India Declares Dolphins & Whales as ‘Nonhuman Persons’ by Alanna Ketler

Blackfish: A film about the largest orca in captivity and what drove him to kill

I can’t wait to see this documentary. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival while I was living there but I wasn’t able to attend. This film is about Tilikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, who has attacked and killed more than once. Tilikum lives in Sea World Orlando along with multiple other killer whales. I read somewhere that over half of the killer whales in captivity have Tilikum’s genes because of his extensive use in breeding and artificial insemination.

He, along with two other orcas, was captured from the wild in the waters of iceland back in the early ’80s. That this happened is so sad. He was only 2 or 3 years old and torn from his mother’s side. It is no wonder that he apparently has great anxiety and aggression. He is psychologically disturbed. Whales, and all cetaceans, are some of the most intelligent species on earth. There are some animals that shouldn’t be in captivity, especially those that would reside in a much larger habitat in the wild than can be provided in a park. Orcas travel the world’s oceans, live in family pods, dive deep, and have social relationships. To take such massive and sentient animals and essentially put them in a swimming pool is, not surprisingly, very controversial. The Shamu show is what draws in the big crowds to Sea World, but it is not in the best interest of the animals.

In my opinion (which you do not have to agree with), Sea World and any other place like that should not be allowed to breed cetaceans. The animals they currently own have lived in captivity so long that they cannot be released, they wouldn’t survive. But no more animals should be born into this life. It is one thing if an animal is rescued for rehabilitation and then is deemed unreleasable because of injuries or illness that wouldn’t allow it to survive in the wild. It is a completely different thing thing to intentionally kidnap them from the wild and then use them to breed even more in captivity. This is not conservation. Those animals aren’t being breed to ultimately be released and help the wild populations grow. They are being breed to be trained for a show.

I highly recommend that everyone see this film. Here is a link to showings and theaters.

Check out the trailer for Blackfish here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93beiYiE74]