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#1023194 - Tue Nov 26 2013 09:38 AM Blackfish - The Whale That Killed
Chavs Offline
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Registered: Fri Jul 15 2011
Posts: 1125
Loc: Ireland
"Blackfish - The Whale That Killed" is a documentary currently available for UK viewers in BBC iplayer @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mfx6 and shown earlier this autumn on American TV.

If you are interested in Orca and the debate about whether these amazing animals should be kept in captivity performing in waterparks such as SeaWorld, then this film is required watching. (Personally, I would say it was required watching for everyone!)

It documents several cases of both killings and attacks by whales on their trainers, with copious evidence from ex-employees of SeaWorld to refute SeaWorld's claims that any human deaths have been one-off accidents that couldn't have been foreshadowed. It makes a very clear case for captivity being a cruel and inhumane way to treat these intelligent whales. It shows a remarkable piece of film where a whale seems to be trying to drown its trainer - how he survived is somewhat of a mystery. It is not easy-watching in any respect, but it is astounding.

It has made my mind up completely. I've always been against the concept but I fell for some of the guff about it not being 'all bad' and the whales being relatively happy. Never again! These are tortured creatures.

Anyone think any different? Has anyone here been to Seaworld and would speak in favour of these shows?

I promise I won't attack you for it, lol! I'm just interested in what could possibly be said in its defence. To my eyes, SeaWorld and all parks like it should be shut down. Immediately. Am I wrong?

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#1023216 - Tue Nov 26 2013 02:36 PM Re: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed [Re: Chavs]
Gheelnory Offline
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Registered: Wed Aug 07 2013
Posts: 78
Loc: Florida USA
I wouldn't say that the parks should be shut down, but I do believe that all 'performing animal' shows WITHIN the parks should be shut down. They teach our fellow humans that these creatures exist for our amusement, and in my view that is wrong.

I do see some value in letting the public see all sorts of animals up close---IF the living conditions for the animals meet a high standard (including giving the smarter animals mental stimulation). In the case of orcas, because of their large size and the difficulty of giving them enough space to live relatively-normally, I'd vote that all whales that could adjust to life in the open seas should be returned there, and only injured or elderly whales kept in parks.

(I saw the movie and it is truly eye-opening. Very well-made.)
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#1023337 - Wed Nov 27 2013 08:39 AM Re: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed [Re: Chavs]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3655
Loc: Northampton England UK      
Well, thanks for the miserable evening, Chavs - that was a really good documentary but not easy viewing. Man's inhumanity to everything non-human. I can't decide what aspect is more heart-rending - the way the captive orcas are separated from their mothers, the way they're kept in a manner likely to drive them insane, the commercialism and deceit behind the whole operation,or... any of it, it appalled me.

So, hand on heart, I can say I've never been to Seaworld. Phew, I'd feel so guilty. But I did go to Vancouver Aquarium when last in Canada and they had an orca. I think there was only one but maybe there was another. Anyway, I remember he/she was in a "display" area about the size of a paddling pool but after the orca had done a few laps they let it back into a bigger area which included a window so that we could see it swimming with anything brave enough to swim with a predator. I don't remember much else about it, I don't think there was any hoop-jumping or other razzmatazz but if there was, my brain has wiped it. Vancouver Zoo is quite small and I don't think they keep orcas any more. They do however keep belugas and (regular) dolphins, and they do have shows with them. Such shows should all be banned imho - these creatures are really intelligent and I think it's rather degrading to make them do tricks. When really we should hand them a super-computer and let them solve the problems of global warming which we are too stupid to fix. wink
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#1023364 - Wed Nov 27 2013 04:42 PM Re: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed [Re: Chavs]
mehaul Offline
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Registered: Wed Feb 03 2010
Posts: 6453
Loc: Florida USA
For those in the US and elsewhere that the BBC doesn't reach (just kidding), the film was produced by CNN Studios and should be available with some panel discussions that accompanied it on the US airing through the CNN website.
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#1024100 - Tue Dec 03 2013 12:42 PM Re: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed [Re: Chavs]
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2064
Loc: Alberta Canada
Wow flopsy, must have been a long time since you were in Vancouver! The province has an agreement (passed in 1996) that no cetaceans caught (on purpose) from the wild will ever be exhibited there. The last orca they had died after being transferred to SeaWorld San Diego somewhere around 2001. A media circus ensued then too.

Currently there are only two dolphins, two belugas and some harbour porpoises, all rescued from things like fishing nets and deemed "unreturnable" to the wild. Some of them have amputated flippers or dorsal fins due to their injuries. And yes, you are correct that there have been dolphin and beluga "shows" but the animals are never asked to do things they wouldn't do in the wild (whereas with orca shows, at least until they stopped allowing trainers in the water, they do things like having people doing gymnastics on the animal's backs or jumping through hoops of fire or whatever). Furthermore, who is to say that asking an animal to do what it would do naturally doesn't relieve boredom/frustration for a creature who could not survive out there in the big bad ocean? Dolphins are NOT orcas and are more inclined to socialize with humans in general than killer whales ever would.

That being said, while the current Vancouver Aquarium is to be respected for the research and rescue (and beach cleanup) programs, I was more than happy to see the old Stanley Park Zoo close in the late 90's. I mean honestly, they had polar bear and black bears in the same enclosure (amongst other ridunkulous things). If anyone cares to know, the old polar bear compound has been "recycled". It's now a salmon hatchery.

The film (which I saw about a month ago) was intended to shock and incite and it certainly achieved that. SeaWorld (and their "contemporaries" past and present) are probably guilty of quite a number of things, one of them being "backwater breeders" (just like a puppy mill). Many otherwise well-meaning and respected aquariums have loaned them animals who have lost their mates only to find out that they were bred excessively. Mortality rate of orca calves in the wild is suspected to be somewhere around 40 or 50% (which is bad enough!). They only give birth approx. once every five years. A female orca does not breed until age 20 and goes into menopause around 40 (one of the few animals other than humans who live decades beyond fecundity ability), so generally the maximum number of calves per female is 5. So when you hear of animals having nine babies and they all died, what does that tell you? Knowing how familially attached these animals are, if I was one of those female orcas, I'd probably commit suicide. Some of them probably do, by either bashing their heads against the tanks or refusing food altogether.

It's all fine and dandy to buy into the "Free Willy" mindset. But the truth is, it's not quite as simple as just "letting them go". There are at least 4 different KINDS of killer whales (some marine biologists suggest they are actually different species genetically since they cannot find evidence of interbreeding through DNA). So firstly, assuming they even know which "pod" the whales came from, they would have to find that specific pod (good luck, orcas spend 95% of their time underwater lol). Three of the four "species" of orcas CANNOT SURVIVE on their own in the ocean without their pods. Is releasing them to certain death a better option? Furthermore, it is no small task to MOVE an orca. They weigh a LOT and most of them don't do well when transported.

I also watched the "panel discussion" following the televised movie. In my opinion, nobody on the panel was allowed enough time to appropriately address their "stand". It was unfair to all involved and not worth the watch, really (at least for me). I thought Jack Hanna was going to die of apoplexy during the discussion lol. I think I know what he was trying to get at, but he should have left SeaWorld out of his comments altogether.

And lastly (whew huh? lol) folks should never compare apples to oranges. Therefore, it isn't completely fair to try to compare accredited zoos/aquariums with mega-corps like SeaWorld, who from all appearances (and I've been to them) aren't all that interested in either research or education or the welfare of the animals (not just orcas).
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#1024107 - Tue Dec 03 2013 01:30 PM Re: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed [Re: Chavs]
Gheelnory Offline
Explorer

Registered: Wed Aug 07 2013
Posts: 78
Loc: Florida USA
Great post, Jan. I agree with your points.

Some relevant news: the Florida SeaWorld park is closing down its performing-orcas show "One Ocean" for at least three months (beginning in January). The report doesn't indicate that they have capitulated to the calls to stop making the animals perform--it's put in terms of 'renovating the pools'...but one can't help wondering.

Searching "Shamu show taking break" will lead to the Orlando Sentinel story (dated 2 December).
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