Thursday, February 06, 2014


It's difficult to watch Blackfish, the recent film concerning the continued captvity of orcas, and of one orca in particular, Tilikum, whose life in captivity, and the tragedies that have occured since, began here in Victoria. As noted in my review of the book Death at SeaWorld, Tilikum was involved in the first death of an orca trainer, which occured at the local Sealand of the Pacific attraction in 1991. When Sealand closed the next year, Tilikum and the other orcas were sold to SeaWorld. In 1999, a dead man was found sprawled across Tilikum's back -- apparently the man snuck into SeaWorld after hours and climbed into Tilikum's pool -- and in 2010 Tilikum dragged a trainer into water and killed her.
Using interviews with former SeaWorld trainers, orca experts and others, as well as footage of SeaWorld performances -- some that went well, others not -- the film traces the history of capturing orcas for display and performance with particular attention to Tilikum, and explores whether it is even possible to safely keep orcas in captivity and whether we should even try.
Blackfish is a sad and mesmerizing film with no easy answers, but is well worth your time and attention.

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