BLACKFISH a documentary  5*****

As imdb states:
BLACKFISH tells the story of Tilikum, a notoriously aggressive orca that killed three people while in captivity. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite uses shocking footage and emotional interviews to present a convincing case against keeping these wild animals for human entertainment.

“Blackfish” is the name that the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest call the Orca or killer whale. It is far from a fish or a simple fish tale! This chilling, moving and highly educational yet gut ripping documentary is the tale of a species of marine mammal that dazzles your eyes, cracks open your heart and enlightens us all about the horrors of captivity for these royal giants of the sea. I would never again visit or support a Sea World type of park and I encourage you to do the same. This is a movie worth renting or owning for its advocacy message. I dream that every public school will show it as a part of their science curriculum. Let’s move past glorifying or making cutesie about these darling black and white swimming machines that literally kiss and wave, flap their flippers on command, take their trainers for happy rides or even stick out their tongues and audibly speak at the people in their work environs. Rather let’s acknowledge that this is a magnificent large swimming mammal destined for infinitely large sea spaces and for its own survival among the other life of the oceanic worlds below.

Believe me when I tell you: This I no “Free Willy” (although there is an apt allusion to that successful box office hit that got me to take out the tissues) or “Flipper”, thanks, Disney! Instead it discloses poignant revelations, exposes from the real people who were there for one powerful male bull Orca’s evolution, from his horrific capture to his reign. “Blackfish” shows from the inside the distortions and media corruption that underlies the myths about Orcas and their destiny.

Some of the facts that riveted me are:

vThe onset of capture was barbaric hunting off USA shores, snatching up babies, leaving behind carnage and splitting up natural families

vMother and baby killer whales stay together for long periods as the young matures

vOrcas live and speak in groups, with unique language systems, separating themselves by sound and appearance from other groups of the same species

vThe trainers of these mammals are dealing with live danger 24/7 when near the creatures or in the tanks with them

vOrcas have a superior intelligence, with highly evolved and intricate brains

vThe performers were not to blame for the maulings, mutilations or deaths causes by these whales

vThese giant regal animals who are in captivity for financial profiteering (not for educational reasons) are harvested for their sperm and further profit for the amusement parks

vThe whale’s penis is stimulated to become erect and sperm are then milked out to impregnate female Orcas; one such whale, the feature of this film, Tilikum, has sired a dynasty of other Orcas for Sea World; his penis is impressive in size, color and shape (curled at the end like a boar’s penis)

vTilikum, weighs in at 12,000 pounds and has been incarcerated in a human scale series of swimming pools since his purchase by the Sea World park; his 3 fatal attacks on trainers made news and legal battles continue against the park and OSHA; the park blamed trainer error; the truth appears to be instead that his behavior was predictable given the confining enclosures in which this massive whale was imprisoned; his behavior was not rogue, it was natural

vKeeping these grand scale beings in captivity and alive for financial gain is immoral, reprehensible and unforgiveable; it should be stopped.

As a sexologist there are no human sexual, romantic or even provocative nuances to comment about from this film. As a scientist and advocate for fair treatment of any form of life I can say that “Blackfish” moved me deeply.  When I see the true familial, cultural and natural rights of living things being violated I feel angry and sad. Not unlike other sentient, intelligent and beautiful creatures, Orcas are perhaps more not less than us.


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