Friday, 9 May 2014

What happened when: I watched Blackfish

I've been thinking about starting up a series like this for a while, a 'What happened when...'series. I'll be doing random things, things that make me feel uncomfortable or life experiences and sharing them with you. 
I decided to start with something that has really changed me, and it's a very, very recent event that's changed me. I honestly can't believe how different I am now in myself than I was a week ago, yup a week
I know it's serious, but I do like to have a few serious articles on here, just so it isn't all makeup, hair and clothes. It is what it is. 
I knew before I began watching this documentary movie, that it would be sad and very upsetting, but decided to go ahead because I wanted to know the truth.

Let's start with a little backstory; I have been to Florida nearly once every two - three years since the age of four. I remember the first time I ever visited Sea World. It gave me my love of sea creatures and animals, and I knew the first time I ever saw the 'Shamu Show' (as it was back then) that I wanted to work with those creatures. I wanted to become a Marine Biologist, from the age of four. Most four year olds would say they wanted to be a singer or a princess, but not me! 
Since then I've visited Sea World every single time I've been to Orlando. To me it was the most magical place in the world, it was better then the Magic Kingdom! 

After watching Blackfish, I feel betrayed and honestly completely gutted. Words cannot describe how awful I feel about Sea World. I spend ten years of my life working towards this 'amazing' goal, (Unfortunately it was only ten years and my teachers told me I wasn't good enough to do triple science for GSCE. So that was my dream cut short) that's a freaking decade

Blackfish is a documentary movie (I call it that because it's an 80 minute documentary) about Sea World, Tilikum and the heart-wrenching cruelty that these animals have been put through, as well as the trainers who had no clue what was going on. 

The documentary shows us how the first Sea World whales were caught, they were wrenched away from their families off the coast of Washington State. The stress of this, caused some of the 'free' whales (aka. the ones who's family had been taken from them) to die. To cover this up, the hunters cut open the bodies of these whales, filled them with rocks, and let them sink to the bottom of the ocean. 

We find out that whales have another part to their brains that humans do not, it's a part than enables them to fully connect with each other. They become the closest family unit. So taking away babies and family members causes them severe pain and stress. 
(Above: Tilikum)
Tilikum is 'that' whale, the one you've all heard about in the news. He was captured as a young male off the coast of Iceland, alongside two female whales and was takes to Sealand of the Pacific in Canada. He, along with the females, was kept in a small, dark container overnight (6m deep and 8.5m wide). Here he would be scratched, bitten, hit and bullied by the females. The tank was completely pitch black. 
If Tilikum did not perform properly, they deprived him and his 'teacher' whale of food, causing him to be beaten even more by his fellow whales. 
So let's go through this, he's being forced into a metal box with two whales who hate him, and being left to starve. By humans. 
It was here at Sealand (1991) that we hear of Tilikum's first killing, a young female trainer (Keltie Byrne, 20). There are chilling accounts by two women who were watching the 'show' that day. 
Sealand soon closed after. 

Tilikum came into Sea World's possession, simply because Sea World wanted a male whale that they could use to breed more whales. They didn't take into account his temperamental past, and according to now ex-trainers, none of them knew who Tilikum was or what he had done. The documentary really goes into detail on this, the trainers were told nothing. 

Tilikum (1999) later killed a man (Daniel P. Dukes, 27) who'd trespassed/stayed after hours in the park, ripping off his clothes and mutilating him. According to an interview with an ex-trainer, Tilikum was found parading the man's body around the pool. Why did no one hear this guy screaming? There are night guards, and night trainers at Sea World. What where they doing whist this man was being mutilated? I never heard anything about this, it's yet another thing that the Sea World exec's decided to cover up. 
(Above: Dawn with whale Nalani)
In 2010 Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau (40), a veteran trainer at Sea World, after a 'Dine With Shamu' show. Pay attention to my next few sentences, because this is what has really fuelled my hate-fire. Witnesses to the incident state that Brancheau was pulled in by her arm. Sea World exec's decided to cover this up, make it look like 'trainer error' by saying she was pulled in by her hair. They decided to PUBLICLY blame this woman's death on her! After witnesses started coming forward and challenging Sea World's original statement, they changed, and changed the story time and time again. But now we know the truth. An ex-trainer likened Tilikum to a Pitbull (this is the example given), if you have an aggressive dog would you breed other dogs from it, knowing it has that trait? Tilikum thus far has had 21(!) offspring. 

Another story shown within this documentary (and this one is particularly heartbreaking); a female whale in one of the Sea World parks had a baby, she and the baby were the best of friends. Remember what I said about the brain? They shared a connection that humans can't possibly begin to understand, and Sea World decided that after a while they'd ship the baby girl off to one of their other US parks. They took the baby from it's mother. 
After the trauma, the mother was in the corner of her pool, making a high pitched wailing noise. Two other female whales would come out to check on her, but she wouldn't stop so they left her alone. 
Sea World had to get in specialists to understand what this noise was, they'd never heard it before. This mother whale was sending out a long-distance call. A long distance call to her stolen baby. 
Sea World's Orcas are taken from all over the world, again, remember the brain thing? Sea World like to promote their whale family, they are 'one big pod' or 'one family', living and breathing together. But they're not. They're a whole host of random members of families around the world that have been thrown together in a pond. They are not a family. It's like hundreds of random, lone people from hundreds of countries living together, just try and imagine how you'd feel! 
The truth is, these animals are not meant to be in captivity. I feel ashamed, saddened and deceived by Sea World, and can't imagine why anyone would still be working there. However as one ex-trainer said, he stayed for the whales, because if he didn't stay to care for them, no one else would. 

So, what do we do? I've no bloody clue. What can we do? 
To start with use this PETA page.
Ten things you didn't know about Sea World.
I'll add more links as I do more research.  
It's really changed my life. I don't apologise for this being a serious post, I always try to keep things light-hearted on here, but this is just not the right topic for that. 

If you do one thing today, go and watch Blackfish. It might just change your life. 

1 comment:

  1. So proud of this post and you for writing it! I always try and explain to people how Blackfish made me feel and I can't justify it. I've been to sea world in Orlando too numerous times and thought it was the best but after watching blackfish I could never go again. This post really summed it up to a T and although it was a biased documentary it shared light on things that nobody knew. All animals are unpredictable even humans but I can understand WHY Tilikum acts the way he does, he was bullied and neglected! Makes me so angry but i LOVE this post! X

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