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Why "Blackfish" is Misleading, Unoriginal, and Stupid

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

"Blackfish," the Documentary About Seaworld

“See Blackfish!” they say, especially if you watch videos on YouTube featuring captive dolphins and whales. “A haunting, mesmerizing, psychological thriller,” one critic raves. The film opened to a warm reception at the Sundance Film Festival as well as probable Oscar buzz, and it was scheduled to air on CNN.

But is everything in the recent documentary film Blackfish true?

Is everything in the documentary film "Blackfish" true?

Is everything in the documentary film "Blackfish" true?

Before the film came out, my review of the trailer was met with flagrant opposition. A few commenters offered some valuable information about the subject (which I include here) but most declared that I was ignorant and stupid for assessing a film that I hadn't seen.

When I first viewed the trailer, I found it highly unsettling and knew that many novices to the subject of animal behavior, animal welfare, and captive animal criticism would retain many unflattering, one-sided views of more than just the famed aquatic parks. Even the director of this film has stated, "We sometimes hear of dogs mauling other people, but in these cases, we don't seem to hear about them attacking their masters," which is completely incorrect.

Many of the critics of my article erroneously presumed that I was also new to the subject of Seaworld, orcas in the wild, and the controversy of captive cetaceans because of my lack of emotion that matched theirs, but I’ve followed it for over three years, starting with the grisly photos of Kandu V’s death. The trailer simply embodied the debate, and that’s what I sought to respond to.

But here’s the thing—I was really providing my assessment of a mindset that is rapidly gaining momentum in our society.

Now that I have seen the film, did it haunt me, move me, or rub my nose in some truth I didn't know when I wrote the review of the trailer? No, I have seen at least 80% of the footage that Blackfish offers on Youtube. In fact, Blackfish even left a lot of things out. I found this very surprising, as I had heard that even readers of David Kirby’s Death at Seaworld would see and learn new things. After many lectures in my comments and past following of this topic, I felt as though I’ve seen this documentary before. Did I ultimately prematurely criticize Blackfish for non-existent elements with my trailer review?

Let’s review my main original points:

  • Does Blackfish make the argument that orcas, which are presented as friendly and harmless to humans in the wild, attack humans because they are suffering from psychosis in captivity? (Yes.)
  • Does Blackfish dedicate a large portion of its running time to exploiting the deaths of trainers (and others) for shock value even though most viewers are really only concerned with the welfare of the orcas, not humans? (Yes.)
  • Did Blackfish romanticize and anthropomorphize wild orcas? (Yes.)
  • Was neuroscientist Lori Marino not presented as a staunch animal rights activist and advocate, but simply as an objective animal mind researcher? (Yes, and those who were enthralled by her claim about the killer whale's "special emotional brain part" really need to read the second chapter of Are Dolphins Really Smart? by Justin Gregg.)

Was "Blackfish" a brilliant documentary? (No.)

All biases aside, the movie seemed to me to be of average PBS TV documentary competency. The film mainly consisted of interviews and footage which, if not seen before, might be considered emotionally powerful. Most people who would be inclined to watch this film are likely to have an emotional reaction to some of the footage, but this is absolutely no testament to the filmmaker’s directorial ability. Gabriela Cowperthwaite (the film’s director) picked a hot-button and emotional subject that features universally adored, cute, or magnificent sea animals which (unlike farm animals) we rarely hear about any harm coming towards. Due to this, it’s likely that Blackfish will receive accolades just like The Cove did, despite its banality. I found a lesser-known film that is also anti-captivity, called A Fall From Freedom (2011), to be more interesting and educational. It also deals with the same conflicts, plus others.

Orca Attacks in the Film

For inquiring minds, scroll to the end of this article to see the orca attack footage that was used in the movie. The actual attack and subsequent death of Dawn Brancheau was not shown.

Misleading Claims in Blackfish

So here we finally have it: not only did this film reinforce my previous views that I psychically deducted from only seeing its trailer, but now I have actual evidence from the film itself to add to my adverse reaction. For my first example of Blackfish’s contradictory elements, I would like to present exhibit A:

“What we’ve learned is that they’re amazingly friendly and understanding and intuitively want to be your companion, and to this day there’s no record of any orca doing any harm to a human in the wild.”

The footage where the orca is seen interacting with human children and a dog is deceptively used to justify the above quote that states orcas are amicable and respectful to humans.

In actuality, this juxtaposition is insulting to the true nature of killer whales and even unintentionally puts stock into the idea that trainers have special connections to the animals (a notion that seems to be criticized by the film).

Luna in Nootka Sound

This orca was (ironically, despite never having been in captivity) ultimately a victim of people overly romanticizing and spiritualizing its existence.

This orca was (ironically, despite never having been in captivity) ultimately a victim of people overly romanticizing and spiritualizing its existence.

What is not explained at all is that this footage features an abandoned, juvenile orca named Luna that was a local celebrity and was named by an 8-year-old contest winner.

Why is this significant? Orcas, like you and me, require close bonding and directional teaching in their youth. This young orca was a lost, wandering, playful child seeking socialization from anyone who would give it. In other words, this animal does not represent an average, well-adjusted-pod dwelling orca. Attempts were proposed to reintegrate Luna back into its pod, but they were impeded by the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations who considered Luna to be a reincarnation of a lost chief, and Luna was later sucked into the blades of a tugboat (due to its playfulness and lack of wariness of humans) and killed.

This orca was (ironically, despite never having been in captivity) ultimately a victim of people overly romanticizing and spiritualizing its existence.

Footage from Blackfish

The footage is touching and shows how this friendly animal made a bigger impact on people than other killer whales did.

Blackfish also makes a false claim about killer whales: That, as a whole, they are leerier of human presence and generally keep to themselves in natural conditions. The film asserts that these animals have differing lifestyles (termed "cultures"). Most of the resident orcas in the film are mainly piscivores (fish-eaters), some even opting to eat only one species of fish. There are other orcas called transients that have a much larger range and are not very well-studied, and I doubt too many people get the opportunity to get into the water with them or would want to.

These transient ones are the orcas you see killing dolphins, seals, and baby grey whales (by prying them from their mothers, drowning them, and eating only their tongues).

Considering the fact that whales are said to be as self-aware and intelligent as orcas and dolphins, I wonder if they emit a similar crying sound, such as that we hear in the documentary (said to be one of the most depressing elements of the film) during this unfortunate ‘cultural practice’?

Blackfish criticizes SeaWorld for lying to the public, denying the animals' aggression, and perpetuating the orcas' image as a "cuddly toy” (a term used in the movie while SeaWorld's plush orca gift shop is shown). But Blackfish utilizes the same emotional manipulation to convince the viewer that the animals are normally friendly and inquisitive. The film also enhances the horror of captive orcas killing people by using Luna’s uncommon scenario out of context. It's clear that despite intensive research, the director has little understanding of animals.

These animals are not orca fans.

These animals are not orca fans.

The Myth of the Peaceful Orca

All too often I’ve heard and read that orcas won’t kill people in the wild. More than once I was told that Dr. Ingrid Visser routinely swims with them in New Zealand (so how harmful can they be?).

But how can we make such bloated claims about a largely little-studied species? Not only do humans seldom encounter orcas (as they tend to spend most of their time in cold or open waters), but the animals have demonstrated their ultra-conservatism in their ways of life (an important evolutionary mechanism). Orcas aren’t particularly interested in humans most of the time, nor do they have a palate for our unusual land animal flesh.

People often make an awkward comparison between orcas and sharks. But sharks are solitary and much less intelligent and are responsible for many human attacks and fatalities (given that their populations are far larger than orcas'). Sharks are present in the warm and shallow waters that humans enjoy (often being much closer than people realize), and there are up to 12 shark species that pose a risk to humans. Trainers spend significantly more time around the orcas and orcas must pay attention to them since they have their food, which is a totally different dynamic.

Therefore, I disagree with this idea of friendly orcas and their alleged refusal to attack humans in the wild. An orca attack is possible, but their lifestyles appear to make it less probable. We had no attacks by pilot whales (a species of dolphin, like orcas) until one dragged a curious snorkeler underwater off the coast of Hawaii (in a similar fashion to a featured attack in the film by the captive orca Kasatka), albeit this terrifying attack was likely to be more play-oriented.

I drill this point home because the film is asserting the idea that these normally passive animals are killing out of psychosis caused by captivity. Undoubtedly, captivity changes the behavior of animals, and this is especially true when they are acclimated to constant human presence. While I don’t doubt or deny that captive orca whales would be negatively affected by the capture processes presented in the film, or by a life where social strife cannot be alleviated by retreat, to insist that a "killer whale" kills out of psychosis is dubious. We do not nor will we ever fully understand the psychology of these animals well enough to be certain of what is going on. However, the trainers in the film gave what sounded like a reasonable explanation of why Tilikum was frustrated the day of Dawn’s death.

Blackfish Claims that Tilikum has "Killer Genes"

One of the interviewed trainers says:

“In a reputable breeding program, rule number one is that you certainly would not breed an animal that has shown a history of aggression toward humans. Imagine if you had a pit bull who had killed…that animal would have likely been put down…”

To accompany this statement is an animated graphic accompanied by whimsical carnival music to suggest the bizarre absurdity of what SeaWorld was doing. The real absurd thing is for this ex-trainer to make a comparison between an orca whale and a domesticated dog in the context of genes and behavior. Of course, the reason dogs are massively successful with humans is due to their flexible genome that dramatically shapes their traits and behavior, and this trait is not shared by all animals. For instance, you cannot breed away a spotted genet’s extreme aversion to human handling (and this is why they failed to become a popular pet), and cognitively complex animals such as elephants make even poorer subjects of domestication.

Hey, Remember Me?

There's been so much hate against SeaWorld these days, it's almost as though people have forgotten about Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium who shared a tiny tank with four other dolphins.

There's been so much hate against SeaWorld these days, it's almost as though people have forgotten about Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium who shared a tiny tank with four other dolphins.

Not only was that statement stupid, but it contradicts the main message of the film—that a killer whale's killing is a surefire indication of so-called psychosis (defined as abnormal behavior) instead of the unpredictability of a wild animal. While I’m no expert in genetics, genes do not code for so-called captivity-induced "madness." If I am onboard with the idea that captivity-stress is the cause of the killing (as it could be), why would this trainer suggest that a more placid male orca’s sperm would be a better way to carry out the breeding program? Would this orca be genetically immune to captivity-stress and pass that on to its offspring?

While this documentary is about orca whales, discussions about other captive animals are absent.

While this documentary is about orca whales, discussions about other captive animals are absent.


Blackfish predictably ends with an interview suggesting that the callousness of families who obtain enjoyment from seeing animals up close in captivity is the real crime. While this documentary is about orca whales, discussions about other captive animals are absent, and the overarching message remains ambiguous. Instead, it closes with a romantic shot of a trainer taking a trek to see wild orcas and exclaiming how tears began to well up in his eyes.

I’ve never seen orcas in the wild, but I have been whale-watching to see humpbacks, and I didn't have this reaction. Ironically, this form of tourism, bound to increase when people start seeing animal parks as sinister, is more likely to negatively impact wild orca populations.

What is Blackfish Right About?

I’m of course not going to claim that Blackfish is entirely inaccurate or useless. It may surprise some that since I was young and forced to watch them, I’ve always abhorred killer whale and dolphin shows. I've always preferred seeing fish and animal exhibits without performances and cheesy music.

I’ve always felt that SeaWorld would do a better job presenting the animals in a more educational context such as is done in more traditional zoos.

I’ve always felt that SeaWorld would do a better job presenting the animals in a more educational context such as is done in more traditional zoos.

I’ve always felt that SeaWorld would do a better job presenting the animals in a more educational context such as is done in more traditional zoos. Regardless, the park clearly strives to be a leader in entertainment, competing with the Disneyland parks that are within close proximity of the Orlando location. I do not dispute the claims of SeaWorld glossing certain elements over, such as the danger element of working with the animals or the nature of the attacks that took place, nor am I equipped to. I will have to take their word regarding lot of what was said in the movie, such as Tilikum being the main perpetrator of the attack in Sealand of the Pacific and his even more cryptic role in the death of a person who broke into the park.

I also know that SeaWorld did skew some things closer to my understanding, such as the natural lifespan of orcas (in the documentary, it is stated they can live up to 100 years or even more, however, the NOAA Fisheries website states that 30 is “typical” for males and 50 for females, with both capable of reaching 60-90, so I’m not sure why it is said that this is similar to a human’s lifespan or why the person being interviewed started with the jarring number of 100).

Any person working with any large carnivorous animal (or even those that aren’t, such as elephants) is also at risk.

Any person working with any large carnivorous animal (or even those that aren’t, such as elephants) is also at risk.

I understand the type of public relations tactics that are necessary to keep a business afloat. I do believe and have argued in the past that while working with these massive carnivores is clearly potentially life-threatening, this danger is not unique. Any person working with any large carnivorous animal (or even those that aren’t, such as elephants) is also at risk. In my mind, it is up to the public to decide with what and how someone can choose to risk their lives, and I guess that’s what took place. Blackfish introduced me to only one really surprisingly thing, that the trainers did not have to train for very long before getting in the water with the animals. What is a perfectly valid criticism is that in trainers, television personalities and good looks should not be valued over experience, animal behavior awareness, and intelligence.

Some animals do well in captivity, and others don't. This is the most important thing to remember after seeing Blackfish.

Some animals do well in captivity, and others don't. This is the most important thing to remember after seeing Blackfish.

Animals in Captivity

Some animals do well in captivity, and others don't. This is the most important thing to remember after seeing Blackfish. I would say that some animals may even thrive, others do okay, and some have major conflicts. For killer whales in captivity, I believe that what impacts them even more than space constraints is social imbalance and the breaking up of family groups. It might dawn on some viewers that while killer whales are clearly living in a tiny fraction of space (compared to the thousands of miles that they have in nature), this limitation also applies to every non-sessile animal in captivity.

This has contributed to the spread of anti-zoo and pet criticism. This subject is not so simplistic. Most zoo animals show the signs of having sufficient well-being, given that the enclosure size is adequate ("small" compared to the wild but sufficient anyway), enrichment is effective, and the five freedoms are met. It is a complex subject that I will examine in more depth in other articles.

Recently I've warmed up to SeaWorld.

Recently I've warmed up to SeaWorld.

Can SeaWorld Improve?

Recently I've warmed up to SeaWorld. They announced that they have employed a killer whale treadmill, something similar to an endless swimming pool for humans, that may offer a new and enriching way for the animals to feel like they are swimming long distances. This has expectedly met a lot of misguided criticism. This device is certainly not going to simulate life in the wild, but it has the potential to give the animals exercise, a new stimulating way to play, and perhaps even offer a distraction from negative social strife.

My comments may be interpreted as a defense of captive cetaceans, but I simply would like to see captivity improve as much as possible. The release of most of the captive orcas is impractical and SeaWorld can no longer capture healthy dolphins from the ocean (a fact I do not believe is mentioned in the film).

The idea of releasing the animals into sea pens is promoted by most activists as the most humane option for non-resalable animals.

The idea of releasing the animals into sea pens is promoted by most activists as the most humane option for non-resalable animals.

The idea of releasing the animals into sea pens is promoted by most activists as the most humane option for non-resalable animals. We are lectured about this at the film’s conclusion, but it could also prove deadly for animals whose immune systems are not accustomed to ocean water. There is a presumption that captive animals yearn for the open ocean.

I am hopeful about SeaWorld’s attempt to find new ways to enrich their animals' lives and hope it continues. This attitude might also benefit other captive animals. Most of the detractors want to see SeaWorld disappear, and that, of course, would also erase their rehabilitation programs, which include the releases of manatees. It would also render thousands of animals that are not all poorly cared for homeless.

That is a pretty destructive and dumb wish for anyone to have, in my opinion. Many have emphasized the fact that orca breeding won't last in the long run and exists on borrowed time, due to the lack of genetic diversity. I wonder why people invest so much emotion in an issue that concerns about 48 orcas (32 captive-bred) where the problem may eventually resolve itself. The main thing that people should remember is that captivity can always improve, while nature, which is not perfect, cannot.

Blackfish reinforces no novel arguments in the noisy captive cetacean debate, but rather just re-illustrates them in 2013 HD.

Blackfish reinforces no novel arguments in the noisy captive cetacean debate, but rather just re-illustrates them in 2013 HD.


For those who’ve said that Blackfish succeeds as a “psychological thriller,” did we see the same movie? Perhaps to those completely unfamiliar with reality, the movie will seem shocking, and that's probably where most of the emotional reaction stems from. This film doesn’t leave much room for free thought, and instead assaults the naïve viewer with an incomplete perspective, while also encouraging a flawed view of zoological facilities and animals in general.

Blackfish reinforces no novel arguments in the noisy captive cetacean debate, but rather just re-illustrates them in 2013 HD.

Attack Footage Used in the Movie (1971)



© 2013 Melissa A Smith


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 19, 2020:

Soph: Another angry comment that takes the time to say how bad the article is but can't name a single reason why.

Soph on July 16, 2020:

This article is a joke and I didn’t even bother finishing it. As a filmmaker myself I saw nothing wrong with this film. It was educational and highlighted a horrendous act against animals. The makers of this film CLEARLY did their research. Reel Rundown how dare you allow this garbage on your website. The author of this article has turned a blind eye to a clear and fair message that the film provided.

Bill Gates on December 10, 2019:

You have no understanding of orca physiology yet you act like you’re so smart and know everything about it and just blame the behavior of the CAPTIVE whales on something you don’t freaking understand. And you’re profile pic sucks.

Harry on December 10, 2019:

With all of your information what proof or history do you have to back your evidence up.

Tommy on October 28, 2019:

Honestly, this has to be the most uneducated article I've read. You make wild accusations without any references, you assume much. How is treadmill going to improve an animal's life who was put against their will. You say that capturing was not as bad as it appeared in the documentary, did the part where they said 3 whales died skip you?

Novi on October 14, 2019:

I think it's funny how the author is such a child. People have different views than you, get over it. Personally i believe that keeping Orcas is very unhealthy to the animals in question. An example of an Orca being negatively effected by captivity is an Orca named Morgan. Morgan had exhibited many irregular and harmful behaviors whilst in captivity (these behaviors are known as "escape bahaviors) which involved ; Ramming her head against the concrete wall of her pool, Beaching repeatedly and biting the walls of her enclosure (which caused significant dental trauma). Is blackfish so stupid? Or did you not understand the documentary? Also try to respond without calling my view stupid. you can do it if you try.

Paula on October 05, 2019:

Human primates have no right to put, or keep orcas in a tank for their entertainment. Even with a treadmill! Orcas have their lives, humans have theirs. The idea that we have property ownership over them is the biggest delusion of all.

James on September 02, 2019:

This review is completely uneducated and wrong, simple

Janet on March 13, 2019:

People should educate themselves. Keeping orcas and other dolphins hungry and ‘compliant’ to the trainers wishes, kept in concrete pools often without sun shade is cruel. The behaviours observers are artificial. Check out where some of these orcas come from: Russia. Do you think they want to spend their life in a concrete tank with chemicals swirling around them to keep the water ‘clean’? If the animals are wild caught they have been ripped away from their family members. Lolita in the Miami Sequarium was ripped away from her family 48 years ago when she was only 4. She performs for the crowd numerous times a day and is kept in the smallest orca tank in the world (actually illegally too small) with no shade from the sun. She’s earned that facility over $160 million for her misery. She’s a Southern Resident Orca, an endangered species. She can be released back to her family - her mother and siblings are still alive. But the facility doesn’t want to give up the the income.

Then there’s Morgan the orca in Loro Parque who was to never be bred from ... but because that facility wanted ‘new blood’ that was ignored. Her calf, Ula, is deformed and very poorly. The facility rarely lets them be together because Morgan, the mother has to perform for the paying crowd. Oh ... except for when they want to film a PR clip for the website or to prove that things are just fine, which they are not. There is a clip of Morgan who had jumped out of the concrete tank she was kept in because she was being bullied by the other orcas in the tank (she’s younger and smaller than them). Fancy preferring to be out of the tank and all the associated health risks rather than being in the water with the other orcas.

Check out “Russian whale prison” on the internet - orcas are worth $6 million each in China. One minute swimming free with your pod or family, the next stuck in a filthy swimming pool that is also your toilet, hence the chemicals used to stop infections from the animal waste that stings their eyes. You think this is a life? I don’t think so.

Check out also the drive hunts in Taiji, Japan. That’s where dolphins are captured for the paying customers (up to $160,000 a pop) and those rejected ‘cos they aren’t juveniles, etc are slaughtered using a particularly cruel method - check out “The Cove” movie. As you can guess, I totally disagree with the capture of these beautiful animals. Then there’s the dolphins caught off the coast of Indonesia only to be used in their short miserable life in the travelling circuses of Indonesia, kept hungry to perform for the crowd and made to jump through hoops on fire and to pose for selfies and be touched and cuddled like toys.

It’s cruel. Check out The Dolphin Project which will give you lots of information, if you’re interested. Also Google ‘Free Lolita’ and ‘Free Morgan’ and ‘Free Corky’ ... the list is endless.

These animals had their freedom stolen from them.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 09, 2019:

Melissa A smith killer Cool.

Melissa A smith killer on February 08, 2019:

i hate you melissa A Smith

Gerald on September 05, 2018:

This article is misleading and stupid.

To sum it up she doesn't agree with Blackfish's message, she thinks that Seaworld are wonderful pet owners who allow people to visit their pets and she is completely uneducated about orcas.

Tabby on November 01, 2017:

I want to thank you for this awesome article! I am very proud to be standing with SeaWorld and I’m happy to know there is still people like you out ther supporting it. I enjoyed your article and I am currently writing a paper about this issue as well. I want to thank you for educating yourself properly and not assuming the movie is correct. Your article is very well put together! Well done!

7 on October 03, 2017:

Thanks for the well thought out opinion on the Blackfish documentary

Jonathan on November 01, 2016:

As an amateur documentary filmmaker I can safely say that after reading your article I respectfully disagree, despite it's obvious bias I found it to be a very engaging and touching documentary. The problem with Blackfish is that it only gives you half of the story but if Sea World declined to comment for the film, it's not the filmmakers fault. As far as using stock footage to mislead the viewers, I can say as a filmmaker that this is done with the right intentions, the point of using the footage isn't to try to mislead the viewer but rather to fill the void of a visual that isn't available. Film is a visual medium and it's considered crucial to give some visual aid to give the narrative a much better view for the viewer. The documentary itself works because it made people ask questions that they never thought to ask about what seemed to be a perfectly harmless amusement park.

Boycott SeaWorld on September 08, 2016:

Blackfish does a fine job of displaying the dangers of keeping a wild mammal in captivity and the constant lies that seaworlds spins.

arhsim on August 21, 2016:

Thanks for the critical view on the blackfish, which, while working up an emotional momentum, erodes the fundamental aspect of unbiased journalism.

But then, how do you highlight a problem (done so well by Blackfish) about orcas within captivity without providing a emotional aspect to cause an impact? Would a more accurate depiction of orcas in captivity have been enough to rile up enough public opinion towards forcing Seaworld to take action (esp. as you have already pointed out, most of the videos were already avaiable and did not cause enough impact)?

Would you not agree, that the heavy emotional (and sometimes inaccurate tone) led to a better outcome for the orcas than was possible with a factual approach to the documentary?

Was it wrong for the documentary to be more of a propaganda tool forcing Seaworld to take action?

Julie Sczesny on July 06, 2016:

Regardless of which side you're on - I'm pleased that Sea World took my idea of the Orca Treadmill seriously! I'd given them the information based upon the Endless Pool Swim Spas, which are stationary - but give you resistance via jets. I'd also given them my designs of how the Orcas & Dolphin could use it on their own, as desired. The human version can go up to 4MPH.

I personally, am concerned about US humans heating up the oceans, more than any captive Orcas. Why? Because warming of the oceans can kill off ALL the Cetaceans within a few decades! Then the only ones left WILL be at Sea World, etc.

In the Grand Scheme of Earth, each & every one of us must play our part in preserving the fisheries, Cetaceans, Elephants, Big Cats, etc. & humans!

So everyone needs to get off their blame game & DO SOMETHING TOGETHER! Obviously there's passion, to save Cetaceans.

Why not funnel that energy together, for the betterment of them all?

This "He said, she said," isn't going to fix anything. YOU, WE, together, can.

Hope what I've said, posted, puts the danger of the Orcas, Cetaceans, US, into perspective. Arguing won't fix things. ACTION is needed!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 03, 2016:

Great Lindy!

Lindy on June 14, 2016:


I realize I'm a little late to the party here, I just read your article after reading about Seaworld's decision to remove orca shows from their parks, and to stop breeding future generations. I was curious; the stance Seaworld took against Blackfish seemed to adamantly refute any claims that the documentary was based in accuracy at all, and yet their policies are changing regardless. I guess I wanted to take a chance to consider the other side of the argument.

I watched Blackfish and it strongly impacted me, but I'm also young and tend to take emotionally loaded videos to heart so it's kind of a given. I hadn't considered the inaccuracies of some statements; the emotionally manipulative ways things might be presented, or the simple fact that parts of the documentaries argument were somewhat contradictory. This article really allowed me to think more deeply on these subjects.

I just wanted to thank you, really, for writing an article that clearly outlined your personal problems with the way the information was presented, while also staying away from topics you might not have as much information on. I feel like you presented your thoughts in a way that didn't come across as too aggressive or pointed but really, simply another take on an issue that has been argued to hell and back.

I'm not sure if I entirely agree with everything you've said, or everything Blackfish presented, but I appreciate that you've given me an opportunity to think and consider other facts.

The rest of the comments here seem to forget that you are in fact an author of an article they chose to read, and they don't seem to want to take the time to learn anything new. You've constructed an interesting alternate viewpoint and encouraged me to think critically of this topic, and maybe not blindly accept that these documentaries must be 100% correct at all times.

I have my own opinions regarding captivity, Seaworld, and so on, but I just wanted to say that your article was a very interesting and insightful read and I hope you aren't letting these other thoughtless comments dishearten you or affect your day too greatly.

Everyone wants to know that animals are being treated fairly in captivity, but it is also ironic how little thought the same people will have towards animals in the wild. The debate regarding this is complex and I'm not nearly educated enough or know enough about the topic to forge my own path, but I thank you for pointing out the area of concern anyways.

All in all, I guess my point is, that whether or not I agree I feel like your argument has shaped my outlook in some way, and that's a sign of a well presented point of view.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 05, 2016:

It's been a while since I've gotten another stupid comment like yours Wanda.

Wanda on June 05, 2016:

How much did Seaworld pay you to write this?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 27, 2016:

Thanks Aldrea.

Aldrea on May 25, 2016:

I just want to say thank you for this article. I cited it in a paper I'm writing about the gross inaccuracy of Blackfish and the harm it's done to the zoological community. No matter how many comments you get from idiots who believe the first thing that CNN force-feeds them, I wanted to let you know that you've helped me to construct a 10-page argument that will hopefully change some minds. Thank you.

kramartini on May 02, 2016:

I wonder how many of the critics of Sea World go there very often. As a season passholder, I attend Sea World San Antonio monthly, and make sure to attend at least one or two orca shows each time, always arriving early and staying late so as to get a view of the orcas' unscripted behaviors, not just their conditioned performances.

My first-hand observation over a period of years has yielded exactly zero reason to believe that the orcas are anything other than content where they are. Certainly nothing to indicate that they are psychotic or that they bear any ill will towards their trainers. Indeed, every observation I have made has led me to believe that they enjoy playing with their trainers and getting free food all day.

I am amazed at how gullible people are to be to believe that a person can force a 4-ton animal to do anything it is unwilling to do. The theory that the orcas are slaves being coerced into performing unnatural or harmful behaviors is pure fantasy. (I mean where are the whips or cattle prods?)

This last point is perhaps Sea World's best defense, and their path to the future. While they have announced the end of theatrical shows, this does not mean the end of all killer whale shows. The shows will still take place but, instead of flashing lights and music, the audience will be given presentations of their natural behaviors. For example, the big screens will show footage of wild orcas jumping out of the water, and then the orcas in the tank will perform a similar behavior. Next, the screen will show orcas beaching themselves, and then the orcas in the tank will do a slide out. And so on. The final result is that the orcas will be doing pretty much the same thing as they do now. The only difference will be in the context presented to the audience.

Yerbad on April 05, 2016:

I went into this article wanting to hate it but it was worded in a much more civil manner than the title would imply, so good job. On a side note I would say that over the past few years you seem to have gotten a bit more defensive when it comes to comments.

Also, to all the people saying that capturing animals is wrong.... Why? Why is capturing animals objectively wrong. We won evolution, if any other species were in our position they would capture us for meat or labor or entertainment or whatever.

TL;DR Good article, you have nothing to prove so stop being so defensive, and capturing animals is okay.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 31, 2016:

I know why I wrote this article. I wrote it because I think Blackfish is misleading, unoriginal, and stupid. I don't need you to tell me to think about why I write things. That suggests I have no self-awareness.

GoPackGo on March 31, 2016:

I understand your criticism of the film as emotionally manipulative and poorly researched. That's fine. What I have an issue with is that all the solutions and amendments t to the issues that face orcas in their parks are only necessary to remedy a problem that they created. I truly don't care what methods the film maker used to draw attention to this issue, because it needs to be addressed.

These are wild animals who are apex predators that travel 100 miles a day in the wild. It is unethical and stupid to put them in comparatively small tanks, and to use conditioned responses to imply that the animal is happy, or that they love and understand people. What poorly justified rationale do people use to convince themselves otherwise?

Yes, Sea World may rehabilitate some injured animals. What does that mean to me if they are also cruel to them to turn a profit? It tells me that they are doing the rehabilitation programs for P.R. Their response to blackfish misses the point entirely. By attacking the film's credibility and creating controversy, they are diverting attention from the ethical issues that plague their business model.

Probably the most despicable thing in the response is when they claim that the animals they captured were in compliance with law. I don't care what the law says, this is an ethical issue. Pulling wild animals from a happy and healthy existence in the wild is wrong. I don't know if baby orcas were really taken from their mothers, or if they really weighted down orcas that died in the process. I would imagine both are true. Baby whales were likely selected because of logistics involved with transport and training. The more telling part of the capture is the treatment of the dead animals. Why would Sea World sink them for any other reason than hiding a deplorable activity?

I guess my point here is, what are you trying to accomplish by attacking the film? Why would you pick this particular battle? If captive orcas are a problem, then what is wrong with making a documentary that plays on people's emotions to highlight an issue like this? Is Sea World not doing the same exact thing by lying and making animals seem like they are happy in captivity or by presenting them as anything other than wild animals to protect their profits?

I guess I just don't get people. Humans would bottle and train rainbows if they could. Please think about why you wrote this article. Not to be offensive, but to me it looks like click bait.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 02, 2016:

Zeldaz-- Let's see I started sometime between never and wtf are you talking about?

Zeldaz on January 25, 2016:

You are a terrible, long winded writer. And yes, you should be paying better attention to spelling, syntax, correct use of verbs, and grammar if you want to be taken seriously. Using quotation marks to indicate a quote that does not exist that is sloppy and unprofessional. How long have you been pretending to be a journalist?

Kyle Soler on November 03, 2015:


reading a few of your articles I have started to think differently about dolphin captivity maybe SeaWorld is right and maybe the activists are wrong. more people need to read your articles and is dolphin captivity going to stop and is it worth stopping.

ps what's your thoughts on Richard O' Barry and his mission. on August 10, 2015:

Thanks for the enlightening review. It pretty much summarizes my own beliefs on SeaWorld and "Blackfish." I seem to recall there being some controversy when the film first came out, in that quite a number of folks who were interviewed for the doc were irate because their words were heavily edited and completely misrepresented by the filmmakers in order to spin their argument against SeaWorld.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 01, 2015:

That was supposed to say 'psychically'. And implored is not perfect but yo get the gist of it. So my grammar isn't infallible? Is that what you came here to say? Phew, I thought you were going to present an argument that would force me to reconsider my views but instead you've dedicated your time to weed through my writing, indicating you have no rebuttal but still wanted to display your anger. Thanks and be gone.

quitbeingajackass on August 01, 2015:

I think you need to brush up on your understanding of not only orcas, but also people, animals in general, and the English language.

For example: '...Bindi is ludicrously being implored that she is "shaming her father's name"...'




beg someone earnestly or desperately to do something.

And "physically deducted."

Last but not least, your mindset is the only problem I see here. You presume much and inquire little.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 24, 2015:

Thanks for sharing your review on Blackfish and never been to Sea World. This was well written. Voted up for interesting!

Sallie on July 03, 2015:

I just watched ut on netfkix because i was really bored. It was okay i suppose, although calling an animal family a culture made me laugh and dismiss thewholethong. Alas, i don't really care much about seaworld, it always seemed expensive for what you get. Ill day this for the documentary, it made me want to go to Seaworld.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 30, 2015:

Jim--My criticisms are important because of the rampant hypocrisy regarding captive animals in general, that doesn't mean that I believe any of those things are good for orcas, and they aren't. I just want people to think critically, most of us aren't in a position to harshly judge other forms of animal exploitation. I would say that we now know the ramifications that wild captures have for cetaceans (and these are not present at that extent for other animals that I approve of sustainably removing for captivity) but they are no longer a part of SeaWorld's business model. I think, given the past tragedies it's even more important to derive the benefit now that we've partially succeeded at captive breeding.

jim on May 30, 2015:


while i don't disagree with your review, I think your responses fit neatly with other ideas I've read on your site but don't begin to address the elements of Seaworld's model that 'Blackfish' viewers found so distasteful. These are the capturing of wild orcas and other sea mammals (a process that often leads to the deaths of animals and always leads to the breaking of undeniably close-knit families or pods), the separation of juvenile whales from their mothers (to suit management and corporate priorities that have nothing to do with animal welfare or scienc e), artificial breeding of young whales, the conditions in captivity, etc.

I think there is a lot of soft-headed romanticize of 'the wild' and a lot of false anthropocentric biases in the modern animal rights movement and your assertion that determining the preferences and subjective realities of animals isn't as simple as many would have you believe is right on. But can you really doubt that separating a mother from her baby is traumatic and wrong for these animals?

Allan Philip from Toronto on May 14, 2015:

Thanks for the enlightenment. They are very social creatures and I collected quite a few photos on my many crossings from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. There are a few Orca families residing in the Straite of Juan de Fuca.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 27, 2015:

"Just to clarify, I never at one point insulted your writing or your education, nor did I ever accuse you of animal cruelty."

I know that, those who you've complained I was harsh with have. Now, this is my blog, and if I want to use CAPS and sarcasm, I will. You don't have to talk with me and I don't have to talk with you. I've been dealing with these clone comments for years now. I've left a lot (not all) of trashy comments from your 'side' here, and anyone who expects me to reply to them gracefully after insulting me or this article is a fool. The last thing I do is expect someone to be nice to me when I personally attack them on their blog. I just hope that the accuracy of my statements will set in, over anything else.

Alice on April 27, 2015:

God, rocking out the capitals and sarcastic comments now are we?

Just to clarify, I never at one point insulted your writing or your education, nor did I ever accuse you of animal cruelty.

In fact, in one of my earlier comments, I commended your writing.

But I did ask you a question. Not a loaded one by any means. If anything, I was trying to understand an opinion that I find hard to comprehend. Being firmly anti-captivity, benefits of enclosing whales in tanks are difficult to instantaneously come to mind and I was hoping you would share your view on this matter. Perhaps there were some facts I had missed. This is an opinion I am still waiting to read.

I also never said you were absent of compassion. But perhaps 'animal' compassion escapes you a little judging by a few comments you had made. Just because I am compassionate to the whales in captivity does not mean I interpret myself as a heroic individual. But I do think it is important to try and give animals a voice instead of giving them a life sentence and dubbing it 'education'.

Your response reaffirms my original point: your comments reek of arrogance and superiority. Your incessant need for sarcasm, unnecessary capitals and thoughtless insults are all ridiculous decoys to avoid answering my original question.

Finally, if you are willing to make this statement, "The possibility I might NOT be wrong is absent from your mind", why don't you stop doing yourself a disservice and provide an opinion that will actually make me question my own.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 27, 2015:

"I said respond with as little arrogance and patronisation as possible."

That is exactly what I did, particularly when you accused me of being "arrogant", that I 'sicken you' with my human superiority advocation, and that I fail to understand animal's emotions capabilities. WITHOUT EVEN PRESENTING AN ARGUMENT, you have decided that you and those who follow your beliefs are inherently correct.

Do you know what a "loaded question" is? A question where an unjustifiable assumption is made. You essentially gave me 'loaded criticism'. You've essentially told me that I need to explain why I'm so wrong and arrogant about everything. The possibility that I might NOT be wrong is absent from your mind.

In addition, you WHINED (yes WHINED) about yourself, and why you're so right and you're sick of my criticism. YOU have compassion (alternatively, I don't, I'm a sociopath I guess), and that's why you're so heroic.

You suggest that I have some crazy need to thank people who compliment me and get angry when people (like you) start insulting me, my writing, my education, and my morals, in addition to accusing me of animal cruelty...YOU DON'T SAY????

Self awareness points: 0

I treated you with so much respect by refraining on getting angry and just deleting your comments.

Alice on April 27, 2015:

Also, I'd like to ask you about your incessant need to applaud supporting comments and condemn those that do not align with your own.

Topics like this should spark healthy debates where facts and opinions are shared respectfully.

Telling individuals to "stop whining" is a disgusting display of arrogance.

People are taking the time to read your article, ask you questions and share their opinion in hopes of some sort of respectful rebuttal. Why not give them that?

You cannot shame a documentary for being one sided when that is all your comments epitomise. Try opening your eyes, consider the comments made, explore the reasons why people are anti-captivity and abolish your assumption that animal compassion equates to stupidity naivety.

Alice on April 27, 2015:

Oh Melissa. I gave you one job.

I said respond with as little arrogance and patronisation as possible.

Here is a question that you might deem fit enough to answer (and kind enough not to delete).

Can you list the benefits that captivity has on orcas? I am not asking this question to stump you or test your knowledge, I am merely interested in your ideas of captivity's beneficial effects on these animals.

Once you have done that, would you be kind enough to analyse whether your idea of benefits significantly outweigh the detrimental cons that captivity has including premature death, hyper aggression between whales, severe boredom etc.

I look forward to your response.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 27, 2015:

Hi Alice, because your comments add nothing to the discussion they are being removed. Thanks for reading!

Alice Han on April 27, 2015:

Also Melissa,

I find your responses to people expressing an opposite opinion to yourself to be rather offensive, insulting and ridiculously arrogant.

Having read such a well-written article (while I disagree largely with its contents), I expected your responses to be as educated and structured.

How wrong was I. You are a prime example of arrogant. You fail to see anyone else's point of view, you fail to understand the emotional capabilities of these animals which are largely similar to that of humans and you also show a classic case of human-superiority which makes me sick.

I'm sick of people like you using the term 'animal activist' as a dirty word. People do it all the time with 'feminism' too, making me feel silly and uneducated to support such a view. I am proud to say that I am an animal activist, it doesn't mean I'm a hippy, it doesn't mean I'm batshit crazy with a house full of cats. It simply means I have compassion for animals and fail to see our race as being superior to the rest of the majestic creatures on the planet. I think that is something to be proud of.

There is no opinion that you have made so far that I would be proud of making myself.

Try to respond to my comment with as little arrogance and patronisation as you can. I know it will be hard.

Marc on April 10, 2015:

I am not sure if anyone has already said this (which I am sure someone has had to by now) but going to sea world or the zoo creates a connection between people and the animals. This connection, beyond doubt in my mind, help protects them from capitalists that would hunt them from extinction. Your points on how naive the viewers on Blackfish were were spot on, so I can't even imagine how clueless they would be without SeaWorld. Why would any average person know or care about a black fish that swims around in really cold wide open water?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 17, 2015:

I don't feel like wasting my time explaining everything to you. I thought I was very clear that I was talking about brain anatomy of different species NOT being an entirely accurate way to measure cognition. Did you not read the preceding sentence?

"We can't even figure out what makes human brains so unique as to produce such an enormous difference between other animals."

Try thinking rationally, do you really think I was trying to say that ALL brains don't show complexity? Even insect brains are extremely complex. Our brain features are not as -significantly- different from animal brains as we are behaviorally different from animals, and we only know to sort out unique brain features -because- we know of human capabilities. This is the exact reason animal rights liberationists love to harp on brains, because looking at them alone, humans don't appear to be very 'special'. I got this information from them! I'll leave you to explore some more of my articles if you really need the answers to your pressing questions, but I've tired of this argument.

Erik on March 17, 2015:

You seem to have a hard time staying on topic so let me break it down for you..

You said:

"Looking at our brain anatomy alone, no one would have been able to guess the sophistication of the human mind" That is a statement in and of itself besides any comparison although you used it for that purpose.

I simply pointed out you're completely, horribly wrong:

From the article I linked:

"They found that the brain's complexity is beyond anything they'd imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study."

If you don't understand this distinction in brain anatomy(density of neuron and fiber connectivity) in humans between that in other animals, that is due to your own ignorance, and not an adequate argument. Maybe you should educate yourself some more?

took all of two seconds to google...

But it also brings up a fascinating question i.e. what is your criterion for why an animal and not a human should be held captive? You say "I'm certainly against this attitude people have about animals having a 'right' to be free or zoos/pets being immoral"

For you why do humans have these "rights" yet animals do not?

Seemingly, although I may be wrong in this assessment, for you it comes down to mental function. But here you have a problem, because you've just argued one cannot delineate easily between humans and animals. Clarification would be helpful...

You do suggest you're pro-captivity(by explicitly stating you're not against it, but rather "shows") in your article. And I have yet to see your orca anti captivity article, or am I missing something?

Again I don't really understand your position. You're awfully unclear.

To put it simply, do you think the current conditions for orca captivity are or are not okay? Do you even think it's achievable? It's a simple yes or no answer..

You expressed some half hearted reservations, but nothing near an indictment against the actual practice of captivity...

Now you are changing your tune a bit, albeit in a weird sort of rationalization.

Regarding ethics, of course it's an ethical issue. Crimes are generally based on ethics, not on random whatever!! Or do humans' treatment of animals have no place in ethics? You're certainly welcome to take that position although I would disagree with you vehemently.

And as usual, you put more words in my mouth, I never said there is no point in arguing with you. Of course there is.- to point out the flaws in your position, your cognitive dissonance and self contradictory positioning.

I also never said the scientists I mentioned(Rose wasn't even one btw) should have the only word. My point was that you have chosen the Seaworld tactic as labeling them "activists" in order to detract from their scientific opinions which is wrong.

Consuming animal products has nothing to do with this discussion-simply another red herring.

And what Pseudo-science would you be referring to with regard to the science? As far as I know, P.h.d.s, which the aforementioned scientists hold, are not handed out for pseudo science.

At any rate, it's nice to see you half heartedly admit orca captivity is as you put it a "crime" and I look forward to your in depth analysis of the subject. It's certainly far more important than whether orcas are "cuddly" or "peaceful" or not....

Finally I take exception with your opinion(as well as too many other opinions to address in one post) that nature cannot "improve".

What does "improve" even mean to you in this context?

Is evolution and natural selection not improvement?

It seems to me you have not thought very deeply about what you espouse but instead have built a fort around what you view as your right-animal captivity- and attempted to justify everything in that vein.

A more objective approach would be more satisfying, but I'm not sure that can be expected with someone with such a vested interest..

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 17, 2015:

"Not impressed...."

I don't care. Did you even read your link? It doesn't say ANYTHING about the human brain in comparison to non-human brains and any anatomy features that show what makes humans so much more complex. I never even suggested to you that I am 'pro-captivity' in its current state but rather I view orca captivity as a non-ethical crime as long as the same humane standards are followed for them as all other animals and improvements are continually being made and I think they should be. I'm certainly against this attitude people have about animals having a 'right' to be free or zoos/pets being immoral, and certainly that SeaWorld should be closed down (the inevitable result of any such boycotts). But there is really no point in arguing with me or anyone else, according to you, who isn't Visser, Marino, or Rose because they have degrees and the biggest mouths. You also better not be consuming any animal products, that is against Marino's orders. In fact, much of this pseudo-science is grounded in the research of the whacky John C. Lilly, also more credentialed than I and undeniably intelligent so who can argue with him? The discussion is over, I lose.

Erik on March 17, 2015:

I have listened to both sides of the debate, done research, and made up my own mind so once again please refrain from trying to label me a parrot. It is a logically weak tactic you employ time and time again and belies any claim to integrity in discussion.


You think captive orcas' behavior is normal? Please elucidate as I have not seen you explain how.. If that is your measuring stick(not a bad one I admit), then you lose that argument handily.

There are plenty of scientists(visser, balcomb, etc.) who are eminently more qualified to speak on the subject than you and disagree with your position. Marino, who you seem extremely attracted to, has a P.H.D. and over 80 scientific publications. Do you have even one?? Your unfair slander of them aside, they are actual scientists, unlike yourself, who have studied these animals the majority of their lives, and are extremely well respected in their fields. To whole handily ignore and dismiss their points as you do shows your lack of objectivity in the whole matter.

It is known that captive orcas do not have anywhere near the same lifespans as wild orcas:

Brain anatomy is certainly an important determining factor when one is speaking of intelligence, self awareness, etc. It is generally accepted cetaceans like orcas and dolphins are self aware- a trait exhibited in less than a handful of animals throughout the animal kingdom.

Additionally, your claim about the human brain couldn't be more wrong:

How easily you whole handily dismiss any evidence contrary to your preconceived and self serving notions of subjugating other living creatures is itself an impressive feat of pseudo intellectualism.

Your last paragraph is again a misrepresentation of my comments. You first attribute to me something I did not say, then when corrected, double down with red herrings and more besides the point tangential arguments. Seaworld can survive without orcas being held captive, don't be ludicrous.

In all of this, it is notable that you fail miserably in presenting a case for keeping orcas captive- it appears you have made no attempt at all. Instead you attack what you deem "activists"(that are actually scientists) and argue around the point, all the while implying all is good in the fishbowl.

Not impressed....

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 16, 2015:

"You've failed to even qualify what exactly that means."

Here's what it means. Behavior is far more important than looking at brain features. Looking at brain anatomy is a highly misleading way to make your ridiculous, gobbledeegook conclusions such as 'greater sensitivity to emotional well being'. Why don't you explain what that means or show a peer-reviewed source that does? You don't get to speculate how their brain works to further your slanted bias. The real scientists, not your propaganda leader Lori Marino, are smart enough to know we barely know anything about what these structures mean for the animal currently, maybe forever. We can't even figure out what makes human brains so unique as to produce such an enormous difference between other animals. Looking at our brain anatomy alone, no one would have been able to guess the sophistication of the human mind. So no, nothing of real substance is 'indisputable'. Lack of or presence of brain features tells us little without behavior of the animal. But why go with science when Ric O Barry and crew have told you how to think? I'm sure the anti-SeaWorld blogs have told you the evidence is 'indisputable'. I don't think you came up with that nutty conclusion on your own, right?

"I never said "SeaWorld is getting shut down"

And just what the heck do you think is going to happen to a facility that loses money yet needs to house extremely expensive animals? The thousands of animals because of the, yes, 30 something orcas SeaWorld has? I pray the garbage being spewed doesn't affect the killer whale's habitat expansion, and they don't get hauled away to die in someone's feel-good sea pen.

Erik on March 16, 2015:

There is nothing "pseudo scientific" about what I posted. In fact that is scientific literature written by people who have much more schooling and experience than either of us in neuroscience. The findings are indisputable.

If you'd like to ignore and dismiss cetaceans' brain complexity as having no significance than that's certainly your prerogative, but it demonstrates your bias as well as ignorance. Saying that you prefer to look at " the animal within over brain features" makes you look, frankly, stupid. You've failed to even qualify what exactly that means. You do realize the brain is the seat of cognition and consciousness, not the liver, don't you? And if you're talking about enclosures than I could only think you're either blind or callous not to have a problem with orca enclosures

According to your previous comments, there are only 48 orcas suffering in captivity, so it's no big deal, the number is small. What an animal lover you are!

For you, inbreeding orcas, breaking familial bonds, drilling teeth, drugging dolphins and orcas, and keeping them in ridiculously small enclosures where they swim endlessly and listlessly in circles and display abnormal behavior is just peachy so long as people like yourself are entertained(or profit) at the end of the day. Those are the facts and you have done nothing to address them.

It is an ethical issue. Your refusal to fully address it and instead attack advocates is telling of your person and values.

And of course, you repeatedly misrepresent what I say. I never said "SeaWorld is getting shut down", that is more of your bologna being served up. I am happy they are getting the point that the public is not going to support these practices. Their CEO recently stepped down(not before suspiciously selling millions in stock and now facing shareholder lawsuits it should be added). They should stick to rescuing wildlife, I can support that.

It's unfortunate your refutation comes in the form of a five year old, full of typical kiddy insults and language, and void of real substance.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 16, 2015:

"You need a course in reading comprehension apparently."

No, that wasn't my greatest reply, how can I say this...your comment literally bored me to tears because it's similar to 90% of the comments I've received and have read and it just made me not really care. I'm sorry if that sounds rude.

And please don't get my started with the pseudo-scientific propaganda you've been brainwashed with.

I seriously didn't know about this:

"There is no "another"."

I don't remember talking to you. You people all seem the same, like suckers from the same banana plant. If you're so satisfied about SeaWorld's stock going down then I wonder what the point is of bothering me. I usually don't waste my time arguing with people if they have an extreme minority opinion that no one agrees with. According to you, SeaWorld is getting shut down. Congrats on destroying those animal's homes, awesome job. Now move on. Haha, I should just delete the comment section but I can't bring myself to.

Erik on March 15, 2015:

You need a course in reading comprehension apparently.

And ironically you saying you prefer to look at the animal "within over brain features" is not very illuminating.

What exactly is that supposed to mean? Speaking of not knowing what someone is talking about...

Of course you don't agree with me, you state you're pro orca captivity, that says it all.

Fortunately, those that view these particular animals in the selfish light as you do(to confine and make them subservient for profit and entertainment or whatever self serving personal gratification it brings them) are losing this war in the long run.

Just take a look at Seaworld stock prices and attendance, both down.

Also, when one goes ad hominem accusing someone of "whining" is only a sure fire sign you don't know what you're talking about.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 13, 2015:

Erik I don't know what you're talking about with the first couple of sentences.

I prefer to look at the animal within over brain features, because they don't tell the whole story. No I don't agree with you, regardless of your whining.

Erik on March 13, 2015:

There is no "another".

That is the first comment I have ever made here or to you...

And it's not useless.

You forget, or ignore, you're just as much an "animal" as the creatures you are happy to assign and justify a subservient role to.

The paralimbic(emotional processing) area of a cetaceans brain is larger than that of a human's, which makes sense given the familial culture and bond(arguably more so than that of humans, at least most of them).

In addition, the frontal lobe, responsible for abstract thinking is in many cetaceans just as large and for others, larger, than humans.

The parietal lobe, the portion of the brain responsible for making sense of emotion is large in cetaceans, and in dolphins larger than a human's..

Cetaceans are one of a small handful of animals known to show self awareness.

I could go on and on, but the point is that these mammals(like you and I) exhibit all the signs of intelligence and an even greater sensitivity to emotional well being than humans..

Instead of spending so much energy justifying and rationalizing orca captivity, why don't you advocate for the animals that suffer under these horrible conditions?

Anybody who thinks keeping cetaceans, especially as large as an orca, in such squalid conditions is definitely off their rocker, would you not agree?

You seriously think what Seaworld does to these animals, violating so many of their natural behaviors and culture, in bathtubs for God's sake!, is okay??

For what, greed and profit....

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 12, 2015:

Thanks for another useless comment Erik.

Erik on March 12, 2015:

Anyone who rationalizes keeping orcas in what amounts to a fish bowl is off their rocker.

It appears somebody forgot they're an "animal" too..

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 28, 2015:

If that is so true, why are you wasting your time whining about this blog continuing to exist? I didn't realize that I was supposed to remove my opinion just because it's unpopular or was posted for over a year. I will continue to support my opinions despite the massive amount of bullying attempts your ilk has made. You probably would have gotten mad if I just deleted your comment, which I probably should have. I compare modes of death, animal or otherwise. I can't figure out why anyone other than a simpleton couldn't see why. Especially when it was essentially argued to me that the criteria of which deaths should or should not occur is based on whether or not it 'sounds sane' to someone's ears.

Dennis Hastings from Olympia, Washington on February 28, 2015:

It looks like you are going to lose this fight. Comparing the deaths at SeaWorld to roller coasters and tipped over vending machines is rather silly, since they aren't animals. Regardless, attendance at SeaWorld is down. Keeping huge animals in a fish tank is going to become less and less lucrative over time. What's surprising is how adamantly you are defending this practice. This blog topic has gone on for years now. I'm not totally against keeping animals in captivity as long as they can roam free in a decent space, but the era of Orca captivity is coming to an end.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 27, 2015:

"A person has died. An amusement park worker died from a whale attack. Does that sound remotely sane to you?

Uh YES IT ACTUALLY DOES. People also die on roller coasters, because they tipped over vending machines at the snack bar, or even because someone's dog escaped from a fenced-in yard and mauled them. Are you trying to argue your point by pointing out its 'weird' that someone died due to an attack by a dangerous animal that they've been hired to work with? That makes no sense whatsoever.

"And Andrew from above was mocking you and your article. FYI"

WOW I DIDN'T KNOW THAT! Thanks for telling me!

tritri on February 26, 2015:

I've never been to sea world. I was never a fan of animal captivity.

I completely disagree with "This film doesn’t leave much room for free-thought". This isn’t north Korean propaganda, the whole point of this documentary was for people to think.

Also, OF COURSE there are animal attacks in the wild. It’s called the wild for a reason. You’re basically leaving civilization of the human world into the animal’s home. I live in Texas where there’s a gun in everyone’s home. With that said what would you do if someone decided one day to go exploring on your property?

There are about a million of other ways to make a multi billion dollar company, just ask the Kardashians. None of those millions of options include trying to capture, train, and domesticate an animal that weighs over 10,000 lbs.

A person has died. An amusement park worker died from a whale attack. Does that sound remotely sane to you? Someone’s daughter, sister, mother, wife died. Do you think she would have died if the orca whale was where it belonged?

Again, people are at risk of dying all the time (as you have pointed out) but a car crash is slightly different from being drowned by a killer whale in a pool of salt water for hundreds of people to see. Or do you feel like it's the same thing?

The movie for me just made me stick to my original gut feeling that animal captivity is wrong.

And Andrew from above was mocking you and your article. FYI

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 22, 2015:

Katara (is that your real name or Sokka's sister?), the research I cited was about killer whales. You'll have to make your argument with the scientists that did the study.

Katara on February 21, 2015:

All I want to point out in this comment is that by bringing tourism boats into the wild, it is not disturbing the dolphins and orcas any more than regular boats, which we have plenty of. Dolphins use every chance they can get to ride in the wake of the boat, and it's certainly more humane than keeping them in captivity. I'm thirteen at the moment, having gone on a cruise when I was twelve, and our boat was nearly a mile away from the dolphin pod where we waited. The dolphins chose (emphasis) to come up and see us, hundreds and thousands of them, and seemed truly happy. I've read about how dolphin pods include not only close families, but distant relatives, cousins, and grandparents. This makes me wish I was a dolphin; I could be with all of my extended family whenever I wished! No, tourism boats don't disturb them, they simply give them an opportunity for fun, and, most importantly, giving them the choice to have it, not being forced to.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 17, 2014:

Andrew-- Keep thinking that way and you'll drown in your ignorance.

Andrew on December 17, 2014:

You're right! This documentary is wrong. I think captivity is a great thing now. Let's torture all the orca's... hell, let's torture ALL the animals for some profit.

Yeah, it romanticized orca;s, which means it's totally okay to keep them in captivity.

Dogs attack their masters. Let's keep orca's in captivity!

Oh my god, you are so right. The fact this documentary made me think differently about keeping wild animals in captivity was such a bad thing. Let's try to dispel the good work this doc has done!! In fact, let's just kill EVERYTHING!!!!!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 11, 2014:

Chris- I don't work with animals professionally. I'm thinking about taking vet tech courses but that's it.

"its wise to derive a conclusion from evidence, not the other way round."

It should be noted that in your responses you've stated no evidence or facts, and you crippled your argument with emotionally subjective phrases such as: " I believe that there are countless animals that are incredibly fascinating and outshine the human race in many aspects."

I've actually looked into the facts regarding the animals I'm sure you're thinking of. Elephants, chimps, corvids, cetaceans, honey badgers, prairie name it. All the animals that are being held in higher regard for possessing 'theory of mind', fancy communicative techniques, or self-awareness. The only reason you find any animal to 'outshine humans' is because you elevate their abilities, ironically, due to a human sense of superiority. Allow me to explain. Many people associate traits such as ethical altruism to humans, so when they view it occurring in an animal, they often make hysterical phrases such as "we humans need to learn from them", failing to see the irony that this rare occurrence in an animal is being commended because it reminds us of ourselves. Humans more often abide by our defined cultural morality, yet we like to only notice when we don't, and when an animal does, we give them all the credit because we are self-hating and feel we are superior at the same time. I've written about this strange phenomenon before.

It is likely that you are harboring some misconceptions about animals and their abilities from scientists that fall victim to the mentality I've described and, not unlike the pseudo-scientists that tout homeopathy and acupuncture, editorialize the results of valid scientific research to push agendas like the 'non-human rights movement'. There are many parallels with animals and humans but no animal possesses the sophisticated mind to have an artificial, limitless meaning language. None. This might sound impossible because the associated movements have enjoyed obscuring or flat out lying about this fact. Therefore, I do not view any cetacean as much different from a dog, that of which are highly complex in their own right.

Since you've spoken about the enlightenment and understanding of the autonomous nature of the individual, let me dispel some of the dogmatic myths about dogs (no pun intended).

-Dogs have not adapted to live in a modern human's household. We like to fantasize that dogs are genetically designed for co-habitation with us, but this concept only goes so far. Dogs simply -tolerate- aspects of modern living like being left home alone for hours, just like any of my exotic pets tolerate the unnatural elements of their lives. When we domesticated dogs for various purposes, we simply modified (removed or enhanced) their traits that were already there. Being alone was never there. In fact, their sociability increased. Dogs are neotenic, meaning we've selected for juvenile traits. They naturally mesh with humans because they are wolf puppies. If you've ever watched anyone playing with a baby of nearly any warm blooded species, you will see that they accept human care quite readily. So again, this illusion of domestication and dogs being 'for us' is actually just us playing around with preexisting traits.

-It doesn't take thousands of years to domesticate animals. As the Russian fox experiment showed us, we can express 'neotenic' traits but that doesn't mean the foxes become human toys. They are actually still foxes, subject to nearly all the elements of care that a non-domesticated fox would receive. This only becomes easier since a domesticated fox is more willing to work with a human (ex. satisfying enrichment needs with leash walking).

- Dogs have been bred in some ways that I find inherently cruel. Domestication is not some infallible process that turns wolves into human toys. We've produced, and failed to question, producing extremely popular pugs and bulldogs that suffer a poorer quality of life physically. The reason for this is the failed idea that domestication causes animals to be "engrained into its nature and the animal is fully adapted". Make no mistake that this element of domestication causes suffering.

"You can't hold the capturing of a naive (used in the zoological sense) orca comparable"

I won't make the argument that bettering the animals' lives applies to orcas, they clearly have problems in captivity right now. On the grounds of an animal being naive, I say every animal we keep, including those which are domesticated, are naive, permanently. If my bird flies away the result will be pretty tragic. My bird certainly does not have the awareness or decision-making ability to choose what he wants. He cannot weight the positives and benefits and realize that leaving my house would cause him to suffer and die, a lot like a very young child. Animals are actually very similar to young children. Human infants also have no language and until 6 months, do not possess self-awareness. Some of the most impressive animal studies have put animal's cognitive traits up there with our toddlers, but toddlers still have language. Even at this extremely early point in human life we have a rich awareness while 20 year old dolphins can't keep up. This is why they're animals. This is why we (should) consider them not 'persons' or 'slaves' in captivity. I reject the idea of comparing their treatment with humans.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 11, 2014:

@ 'The Truth'

Your old comment fell into a spam filter as did many others, I didn't find out until now.

Chris on December 11, 2014:

Hi Melissa,

I take you are a trainer? or at least work with animals?

Without meaning to sound rude, I think in an ethical debate such as this, its wise to derive a conclusion from evidence, not the other way round.

I think that the concept of disregarding an life form's entitlement to its own free will due to it being not akin to humans is surely narrow minded. A great progression in political philosophy was 'the enlightenment' and the understanding of the autonomous nature of the individual. It's why we have technology and aren't farming barley for a land baron right now. I think that people need to learn to apply this concept to the treatment of animals.

I am Utilitarian in the respect that if animals need to be sacrificed in order to keep humans fed/safe that is something that just happens, and that is the way of the world, be it macabre. But you say that you take an animal to the vet against its will is good (which it is) but then you put that on par with holding an animal in captivity, and you make the claim that many animals have better lives in captivity. I think its important to understand in this instance that government against the interest of something (whether it be a nation, individual or an animal) but for what you think is better, is a dangerous route. In some respects it's dangerous to hold that mindset. It's the 'you don't what's good for you' complex. You can't hold the capturing of a naive (used in the zoological sense) orca comparable to the natural slow process for example that makes a dog domesticated. One is engrained into its nature and the animal is fully adapted over thousands of years of domestication due to a mutually beneficial relationship of give and take (from the hunter gatherer times) and the other is an entirely parasitic nature in which only one party benefits.

John Stuart Mill talking about liberty and the shift of power to the individual 'What was now wanted was, that the rulers should be identified with the people; that their interest and will should be the interest and will of the nation. The nation did not need to be protected against its own will.'

How can you claim to protect something against its own will when its own will, will bring it to no harm? The animal has no necessity to be in captivity, and people claim these animals were born in captivity, but thats not the solution or the answer to the problem, thats the root.

Also, I would like to pick you up on the use of the word akin, meaning of similar character. I believe that there are countless animals that are incredibly fascinating and outshine the human race in many aspects. Many show that they are infact akin to humans, its like saying you can do what you like to whatever isn't human because its basically not as superior as our race. If you think about it that is the same mentality of superiority that has caused many horrible and desolate times for our race, in nearly every culture.

As I said before I take it you work with animals, I am interested to know in what profession. If you don't mind me asking

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 10, 2014:

I can't help but make it sound defensive.

"do you believe its your liberty to hold something against it's will?"

Yes, as long as that 'thing' isn't a human, since there is no extant animal that is akin to humans. I do many things to my animals against their will, including taking them to the vet. We do this knowing that animals do not understand the benefits. That can apply to captivity too.

Chris on December 10, 2014:

Well put!

I see your point entirely. I was just wanting to get a better insight into how you see it. I don't necessarily agree, but I see it.

One other thing, you say that it would be an obstruction of your freedom to remove you from your animals, but you are holding them in captivity (and although you have discussed the economic and survival benefits of doing so) do you believe its your liberty to hold something against it's will?

Can I just really stress, this isn't an attack, I felt your reply was somewhat defensive. Don't feel criticised, it just interests me what people think about this sort of thing.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 09, 2014:

"Do you think it's wise, or ethically sound to deny a creature of sentience and great intelligence a natural freedom?"

Hi Chris, I don't hold the opinion that cetaceans hold a much higher 'sentience' or 'intelligence' than domesticated dogs and I, and I'm sure you as well, highly approve of denying them their natural freedom. In my view there is no such thing as a 'wild animal' in the sense that people talk about. All animals are equal. Even animals that have been bred to be pets are not 'truly' pets. They all enjoy freedom but they can also enjoy captivity conducted in a sensible manner. In many cases captivity can be superior. This probably isn't the case for all of the orcas but it can be improved. I think this is all wise and ethically sound. SeaWorld is a money-making entity that has saved far more animals than killer whales it has unintentionally caused to die prematurely. We can take that as a learning experience to improve the lives of other captive animals and those needing rehabilitation. The benefits also include employment of people who want to work with animals and encouraging an interest in the natural world overall.

"but I find that 99% of the problems on this earth come down to people obstructive others' freedom with their own freedom."

Nature is rife with death and suffering. That's how it works. Natural selection begins with the mass slaughter of animal babies that are either 'unfit' or unlucky to provide a selective pressure for the healthiest individuals to reproduce. This also applies to wild killer whales, as despite having virtually no predators or recorded infanticide among pod members, infant mortality may be as high as 50%. Humans are the only animals to remove themselves from this system and we can attempt to provide animals with it too. As for liberty, you would be removing mine if you try and separate me from my animals. You wouldn't be doing them much of a favor either.

Chris on December 09, 2014:

Hi Melissa,

It's common for people to see a documentary and flock in their herds to fight and die for a cause they heard about 10 minutes ago. So I'll try not to follow that. I guess its just human nature.

I personally saw the Blackfish documentary and felt very moved by it, however at first it appears to glorify being a trainer. My eyes lit up when I saw the relationships these people had with orcas. I even thought that it could be something I could do. However, later on the documentary revealed all sorts (whether it be lies or truth).

Whether or not any of it is lies or truth is not central to what I want to say, and don't take this as an attack, merely a subject of debate.

Do you think it's wise, or ethically sound to deny a creature of sentience and great intelligence a natural freedom?

The way I see it is that we are flying around a ball of fire, on a giant rock flying through space (To put it simply). Can we not just leave it out? I mean sure there is a business/industry behind it, but I find that 99% of the problems on this earth come down to people obstructive others' freedom with their own freedom. And before the universe can take a blink, all life on earth will be dead, gone and all in vein. So why not just try not to keep our liberty and leave others' liberty alone?

I hope you don't see this as an attack. I'm trying to keep my bias in my pocket because I am interested in hearing the response to the question i asked you in the middle of the comment.

Thank for your time

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 04, 2014:

Thank you Taylor, I'm glad that I could help with your work. If you didn't know, I have a more recent article about these issues here:

Taylor T on December 04, 2014:

Melissa, you have challenged my views on the subject of Orca captivity, and I greatly appreciate that. I'm writing an argumentative research paper for my English course and my point of view was going to argue why they shouldn't be in captivity, however we still have to describe the other side of the argument, and now I have some very intriguing information to use. So, thank you! I definitely see how valid the point of captivity being able to improve and nature not being able to do so. While watching the documentary, I was thinking about the whales who're captive born and how they would most likely, if not indefinitely, die if released in the ocean. Perhaps Sea World and other marine parks should take action to reunite all the family members in one place, so they aren't so socially disturbed. Improving the care for orcas and all the other marine mammals in parks like SW would be a step in the right direction. I also wonder if the orca "treadmill" could possibly prevent dorsal collapse in captive born male orcas. Or even reverse it in elder males such as Tilikum.

jlh88 on December 01, 2014:

I have some correction on Luna's story. There's a documentary on him called "The Whale" on Netflix.

The residents of Nootka Sound wanted him reunited with his pod and the documentary portrayed the idea many of them did not like the idea of the government putting him in captivity, which was the proposed plan B. When a capture was organized, apparently at the last minute, officials behaved in a way that suggested they were going to ship the whale immediately off to a park. Pretty much every person interviewed in the documentary were happy the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations kept Luna out of the the netted sea pen he was being coaxed into.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 14, 2014:

Good for you Nicholas! Most people find it impossible to separate their emotion from critical thinking. I've deleted many comments that were ridiculous and there are still plenty left.

Nicholas Pollock from Columbus, Ohio on November 14, 2014:

Aside from your title (which has been mentioned already), I think this is a well written and thoughtful piece that attempts to cut through the hysteria present multiple angles. I am still on the fence about captive orcas. I am an emotional person, so I was affected quite a bit my the imagery in the film, but I am self-aware enough to know that these tactics can be used to manipulate viewers. In the end, I go back to a maxim I live by: the truth lies in the middle. I automatically give more credence to any opinion that doesn't claim to have all the answers.

Reading the comments on this piece does bring up a larger question: why have people become so radicalized in this country? Extremism has infected every level of our society, especially politics. Everything has to be right or wrong, black or white. Why is not possible that Sea World does some things right and some things wrong? Attacking anything as all wrong leads to defensiveness and has no hope of effecting positive change. It is why nothing ever gets done in this country.

Dave on August 20, 2014:

You sound like you want to justify going to Seaworld still. Do you feel good?

Breck123 on July 24, 2014:

@ Eli- Did you read the article? Most of the orcas in captivity are BRED IN CAPTIVITY! The ones that were collected from the wild where collected in the 70s! They no longer do this!

Eli on July 24, 2014:

Unfortunately a long and boring article that might confuse people who are searching for information on the inadequate and cruel ways animals are kept in parks as Sea World, Discovery Cove or Seaquarium.

I agree with some comments above that mention about the title being "supportive" to keep wild animals in captivity and the fact that you wrote at least twice as much as you needed to say what you wanted...

It's a shame that someone that seems well informed still has such ignorant point.

Do you know that orcas at SeaWorld spend most of their time floating at the surface of water, while in the wild they spend up to 95 percent of their time submerged in the depths of the ocean?

Do you know that lots of the orcas were taken away from their habitat and and confined to a small concrete tank? They say that all animals either were born there or taken away because they were sick or injured, and that's a LIE!

This article supports cruelty & you should be ashamed of it.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 13, 2014:

Thanks Kaleb.

Kaleb on July 12, 2014:

People are so gullible sometimes. It takes one indecent for people to go up in arms about something so stupid... I don't know if it is me being heartless or everyone else being emotional, or both, but the people who bash your article don't see value in keeping animals. The only reason we can treat cancer like we can is because we keep rats. The only reason medical breakthroughs come out like they do is because we experiment on animals. For god sakes, we keep monkeys and put them in some pretty crappy conditions to learn about the brain.

Hollywood really must control the world, because one movie can make people go nuts.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 02, 2014:

I saw the film MONTHS ago, as I've stated in this review. READ JD.

JD on July 01, 2014:

Why exactly don't you just remove this stupid page? You said you'll only start caring when the incidents become more frequent? What kind of sane person says this? Also, as was mentioned before, you're completely missing the main point of the film. You also can't review a film before seeing it. Basic order of operations.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 01, 2014:

Dan Lewis-- I have heard of dogs attacking their owners, so case closed.


It's a dumb statement anyway, because no one owns these killer whales. They interact with many trainers and I doubt any one person is perceived as the 'pack leader'. What 'archives' are you checking? An attack doesn't always result in a fatality, so if you were checking those lists you might have failed to realize that people are often attacked but survive. Of course, fatal attacks are more commonly not the dog's owner, which is why I frequently state how stupid it is to attack exotic pet owners when most of the fatalities involving them ARE the owners.

The director did not say it was rare, she said we don't seem to hear about it. Well I seem to hear about such things, whatever that means. She's just ignorant to a lot of things involving animals. Killer whales are not dogs. They do not have that type of hierarchy with humans.

"Sometimes people are wrong about things. Even you."

Not this time, try again.

"Starving animals to train them to do unnatural things is a bad idea, especially if the animal is an orca."

Then you lied about agreeing with me, nice.

Dan Lewis on June 30, 2014:

I essentially agree with you, but it appears that your desire to be absolutely right in ALL things has caught you up, badly.

You mentioned the director of the film talking about how we rarely if ever hear of dogs attacking their owners.

That's the truth, dude. Scan the news archives.

We rarely hear of such events. Deal with it, please.

If you won't recognize the truth, why should we?

Sometimes people are wrong about things. Even you.

Starving animals to train them to do unnatural things is a bad idea, especially if the animal is an orca.

H on June 26, 2014:

The only reason any wild animal should be held in captivity is for conservation or science. This is clearly not the case with orcas and dolphins. They should not be in such places for a source of our own amusement and it is not surprising incident like this happen - they will always be wild after all.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 25, 2014:

belleart-- You are baffled because you don't understand that EXPLOITATION does not always mean an animal is being harmed. When dogs are being owned and walked on leashes they are exploited. A cat having its kittens removed and adopted out is exploitation. Do you care to argue against this? Tigers can and HAVE been successfully kept as pets, period. It's not a politically correct thing to say but it is the truth. There are some people that thing tigers are more 'magnificent' and 'majestic' than a regular cat so they can't be a pet. In the real world a tiger is just a giant cat and the same rules apply: Food, water, shelter, exercise, mental stimulation. Sometimes pet cats don't receive that last one!

belleart from Ireland on June 25, 2014:

I am absolutely baffled by you. I started reading this and thought you had some great points, albeit portrayed in a somewhat wrong way. after reading some of the comments though I went to check out some of your own hubs, like you suggested in the comments above. All I've seen is hypocrisy. You have hubs on ho to help animals and ones on how to exploit them: How to have a tiger as a pet? Your fighting the wrong battle if your not going to pick a side.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 18, 2014:

Thanks Andrew W. You're the first person to actually COMPLIMENT me on responding to the comments.

Andrew W. on June 18, 2014:

Great article, great responses to responses, and did not leave a response unanswered. Also justified all your opinions. Well done

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 15, 2014:

Rosana, that's been covered:

Killer whales can't be domesticated, I don't care if it's a 500th generation. Certain traits predispose animals to human use, yet not even they have been shown to never attack humans. Even cats have attacked humans. It's silly for anyone to believe that any large animal is 100% safe.

Rosana on May 15, 2014:

Hi Melissa,

I just wanted to answer your question from the evolutionary biologist perspective.

"Are domesticated animals really that different from exotic (maybe you meant wild?) animals?"

The answer is yes. Dogs have been domesticated for at least 15,000 years now. The first domestications were from wolves that showed to be docile and obedient . They were used to hunt for food and protection. Since then we have been domesticating dogs for all purposes, and especially for recreation. Even though dog breeding was and continues to be "necessary" little we know about linked genetic traits. As you might have heard many fancy dog breeds come along with terrible genetic diseases, this is simply an indication that we don't know enough about dog genetic pathways and evolution of their genes. Now transfer this to killer whales, has the killer whale genome sequenced? No, do we know which traits are linked with "eager to please"? No, are we inbreeding this animals and causing genetic diseases? Very likely, just like we have done with dogs. Therefore, from the genetic stand point breeding animals when we don't know anything about their genetic material is wrong, exactly the same as creating dog breeds that look pretty. And last but not least, would you trust a fourth or fith generation of a domesticated wolf? I certaintly wouldn't, why would you then trust a fourth generation domesticated killer whale?

Greg on May 06, 2014:

It's interesting to me that many pro captivity observers insist on the agenda of Blackfish being to shut Seaworld down, whereas Cowperthwaite herself has clearly stated many times over that this is not the case. What they would like to see is an end to the practises of Seaworld as demonstrated in the film, much of which remain unadressed by Seaworld in it's supposed rebuttals, such as:

- The intensive and frankly incestuous artificial breeding which they persist with, milking animals like Tilikum for sperm to impregnate females often directly related to him.

- Seaworld's general insistence on putting the sacred dollar above all other considerations, including the safety of employees.

- Seaworld's so called 'educational qualities' which include misinformation about the lifespan habits and even physical condition of the animals ('oh yes, dorsal fin collapse is very common', 'oh, they tend to live much longer in captivity')

- Seaworld's refusal to deal honestly with the public about the dangers their trainers regularly face, covering up any incident of violence by the animals against the trainers unless absolutely forced to reveal it, and putting the most positive and transparent spin on it when they so.

Most of all, it would be nice to see Seaworld enter an actual dialogue with the anti-captivity movement, rather than just attempting to smear and discredit them with half-assed attempts at rebuttals and general character assassination and misinformation. For a company which claims to care passionately about the animals in its care and the people who work with them, they seem awfully quick to dismiss former employees - even recent ones - who don't toe the company line.

Warhead77777 on May 05, 2014:

I've read that you are considered speaking from bias, but I realize that you speak because you have beliefs. Why would anyone post this much information if they didn't believe in it? Since you believe so strongly, you are of course a bit bias.

It effects what information you show us, but not the form you show it in. Anyone who has a cause or an idea is bias in this way, you just are very clear about it and work around it to make your points clear.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 04, 2014:

Josh Q, thanks for telling me my link doesn't work. Here is another one:

You are against animals in captivity but I and many others aren't. Capitalizing the word wrong is not an argument.

Joshua Q on May 04, 2014:

People have been studying them for 30+ years? Thats kind of a long time in my opinion.

They said there has been no reported (intentional) attack by an orca, they did not say it is not possible. It sounds like you're saying it can not ever happen ever according to the film. It is a comparison. I would not look so deeply into it. People have swam with orcas in the wild, and from what I have seen they avoid us for the most part. In bathtub, they can't avoid us. They also cannot do much socialization there either.

There are different "cultures" as you stated, and they speak different languages, just like us. Putting multiple orcas together is like putting 2 people in a pin who do not speak the same language.

Luna is not the only orca to be friendly to humans. I have seen other videos of orcas doing exactly as Luna had. At least I am pretty certain the video was taken after Luna died (sadface).

Have a link to the whale pulling the snorkler under? The one here did not work. Was this a captive whale? I thought I read or watched a video on it. It was domesticated, or captive, so I am wondering if it is the same whale.

I don't know why everyone wants to argue about Blackfish or prove something. Regardless of lies and deceit or w.e the claim is, the message is there for the taking. THIS IS WRONG, to use an animal for profit is wrong, to take an animal from something as vast as the ocean and throw them in a swimming pool is wrong. There is no need to dismiss ANYTHING in Blackfish in my opinion. I have read a few articles of people trying to discredit Blackfish and the director/producer, but honestly I don't care. I see images that are disturbing and I see a beautiful animal suffering. I care about the animal, not the movie or the lies or deceit or w.e. Only the animal(s)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 04, 2014:

Thanks Greg. I was trying to demonstrate my perspective having not been new to his subject, and why it might seem so shocking to a newbie. Yet I'm also far from an expert, and have been following these matters for about 3 years. I will look it over again eventually.