Blackfish opened the eyes of the public to the fact that orcas, also known as killer whales, were suffering in tanks controlled by Sea World and other parks that hold orcas captive. The movie states that these suffering orcas are more likely to cause humans harm and backs the statement up by profiling various whales and there interactions with their human trainers or anyone brave (or in one case dumb enough) to share a tank with these large top predators.
As you read the above, you might be surprised to hear me write those words. You may be wondering if I want to portray orcas as human killers, using people as there play things. That is not the case at all. What I would like you to know and be made aware of is that the animals belong in the wild. Their life histories and physiology require it. There are many people who agree with me; however, there are many people who don’t.
After I watched Blackfish, I went online to see what people were saying about the documentary. There was a clear division in the arguments for and against captive orcas. The people for captive orcas would say that they are a great way to connect the public with these majestic animals. They might be right; however, there are really only 2 questions that we have to ask and answer (in my humble opinion) to determine whether these whales should be help in captivity:
1) Are the whales being harmed physically and mentally?; and,
2) Is it really safe for people to interact with captive and/or wild orca populations (when I say interact, I mean be in the water with them like Sea World Trainors)?
In all honesty, I did not have the expertise to answer that question, but I wanted to find out quickly. I want to ask last week’s guest Dr. Chris Parsons about his thoughts on Blackfish, but we ran out of time talking about marine mammals and the policies that are in place to protect them (it was a great conversation!). After the interview I told him my intentions about what I wanted to ask him. He immediately suggested that I speak to his wife, Dr. Naomi Rose, who is an expert in orca and works for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C. Naomi said she was happy to give an interview and we scheduled a time to meet.
I must admit that Naomi gave a great interview discussing wild orca populations and captive whales. In this interview she tells us the science involved in assessing the health of captive orcas as well as wild orcas. We discuss social structure, health, feeding commitments, how SeaWorld’s secrets were unveiled through a court process that resulted in SeaWorld trying to defend itself against OSHA (Occupational Saftey and Health Administration) and more! We even discuss what our ideal SeaWorld would be should it give up its practices of holding orcas captive to create a show for the public.
This is one of the best interviews on the Speak Up For Blue podcast. It’s also the longest; however, I would like ot to listen to the full interview, especially if you like to hear information on orcas.