SeaWorld is undoubtedly one of the most popular theme parks in the United States. For many children, SeaWorld is a haven where they can see marine animals in all their glory—including dolphins, whales, penguins, sea lions and stingrays among many others. Aside from its animal shows, the park also features rides, family restaurants and programs that give visitors a chance to interact with the animals.

In 2013, a documentary was released in order to unveil what’s behind this seemingly innocent theme park. The film follows Tilikum, one of the killer whales that perform at SeaWorld and who has been involved in the killing of three individuals while in captivity. The last of Tilikum’s victims was one of the park’s most experienced trainers, Dawn Brancheau. In response to the tragic death of one of its employees, SeaWorld claimed that Brancheau’s death was the result of an unfortunate accident. Apparently, the whale mistook the trainer’s ponytail for a toy and dragged it into the water, drowning the trainer in the process. In contrast, witnesses who saw the incident claimed that Brancheau was pulled into the water by her arm.

Blackfish aims to show SeaWorld’s inhumane treatment of its captive whales and other marine mammals. Killer whales, including Tilikum, are ruthlessly captured in the wild and confined in the park and made to perform for guests. Both whales and its trainers are put at risk for the sake of the multi-billion dollar theme park industry.

The documentary intends to uncover what’s behind the “Free Willy” shows and cute stuffed whale toys that make up SeaWorld’s deceptively harmless and fun image. The directors wish to show how captivity negatively affects the killer whales’ physical and psychological health, turning them into unpredictable and hostile creatures. Unfortunately, the risk that trainers and visitors are exposed to are downplayed by SeaWorld in order to keep their business running.




One of the best things you can do to support killer whales and prevent future human casualties is by spreading awareness. Unfortunately, most people are still unaware of the cruel operations behind ocean theme parks. Former whale trainers are also speaking out on behalf of the captive animals that they used to work with. Most of these trainers have blogs and websites that you can visit to learn more about how you can help in putting a stop to animal captivity and protecting animals in the wild.

Check out the Blackfish website here: