Blackfish Documentary Exposes Industry Cruelty of Orca Whales in Captivity
Advocates of rights for whales and dolphins made strides last night, as the documentary Blackfish aired on CNN during prime-time hours. The film tells the story of orca whales kept in captivity at the Seaworld theme parks in California, Florida and Texas.
Blackfish is not easy to watch. Scenes of huge whales swimming despondently past human families are subtly disturbing. Then the film gets less subtle.
Mostly through the testimony of former SeaWorld employees, it shows how the whales, frustrated and bored with their captivity, lash out from time to time in acts of aggression. These eventually led to the deaths of two trainers—Keltie Byrne and Dawn Brancheau—as well as a young man named Daniel P. Dukes, who had snuck into the park at night. Blackfish also suggests that the company repeatedly attempted to cover up these problems.
If social media was any indication, the film hit viewers in an unusually visceral way. Consider a few sample tweets:
Watching #Blackfish has me in tears.
—Janell Suarez @Janell_Suarez
After watching #blackfish on CNN, I'm not going to @SeaWorld ever again. Very eye-opening and disturbing.
—Brandon Ford @bfor2384
Hey @SeaWorld there's a word for imprisoning free beings & forcing them to work against their will: slavery #BlackfishOnCNN #captivitykills
—Sandra Benjamin @BenjaminSandra
Like Suarez, a large number of viewers wrote on social media that learning about the whales' ordeal made them cry. Others, like Ford, said they would never go to SeaWorld again. And, like Benjamin, still others suggested that we should recognize greater legal rights for animals, especially highly intelligent ones such as whales and dolphins.
Most of the action happened under the hashtags #BlackfishOnCNN and #Blackfish—so you can follow the conversation for yourself through those links. There's a lot of it. #Blackfish became the number-two trending hashtag on several occasions Thursday night, placing it right between #ThursdayNightFootball and #VAGovDebate.
See the network's website for an interview with filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite, an investigation into whether whales belong in captivity, and a conversation with former whale trainer John Hargrove.
By Alex McInturff, Christine Wilkinson and Wenjing Xu
What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet's fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.
Early advertisement for barbed wire fencing, 1880-1889. The advent of barbed wire dramatically changed ranching and land use in the American West by ending the open range system. Kansas Historical Society / CC BY-ND
The authors assembled a conservative data set of potential fence lines across the U.S. West. They calculated the nearest distance to any given fence to be less than 31 miles (50 kilometers), with a mean of about 2 miles (3.1 kilometers). McInturff et al,. 2020 / CC BY-ND
- 'This Is Not Like a Fence in a Backyard' — Trump's Border Wall vs ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.
- These Are the Challenges Facing India's Most Sacred River ... ›
- Oil Spill Causes 'Major Disaster' for Ganges River Dolphins ... ›
By Kenny Stancil
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
- Are the Amazon Fires a Crime Against Humanity? - EcoWatch ›
- 'Her Work Will Live On': Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide ... ›
After ongoing pressure from environmental groups and Indigenous communities, Bank of America has said it will not finance any oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, making it the last major U.S. financial institution to do so.
- Bank of America Sponsors Polluted Air and Chicago Marathon ... ›
- Youth Activists Hit the Streets to Protest Bank of America - EcoWatch ›
- Environmental and Economic Justice Communities Target Bank of ... ›