Blackfish is a highly controversial documentary about a Tilikum, a disturbed, captive killer whale, whose complicated emotional unrest resulted in the death of three trainers. Blackfish shows us why keeping intelligent mammals such as orcas in captivity is a dangerous practice, and about the inhumane inner workings of theme park organisations. The documentary contains shocking footage of the above.
Despite being commonly known as the killer whale, orcas rarely attack humans in the wild. Orcas live and hunt in family groups or “pods“. A pod can be defined as those orcas that are usually seen travelling together. Resident orcas belong to a specific regional pod may number from around 5 to 50 individuals. Transient pods can have 2-6 individuals. Pod continuity extends across generations. Every pod has maternal structure and surprisingly its own unique dialect! In the documentary it was observed that orcas belonging to different pods suffered from the inability to communicate with each other in captivity.
Killer whales are among the most intelligent marine mammals. Killer whales, or orcas, have the second-largest brains among all ocean mammals, weighing as much as 6 Kilograms. It’s not clear whether they are as well-endowed with memory cells as humans, but scientists have found they are amazingly well-wired for sensing and analysing their three-dimensional environment.
Scientists are trying to speculate how killer whales are able to learn local dialects, teach one another specialized methods of hunting and pass on behaviours that can persist for generations, longer possibly than seen with any other species except humans.
Blackfish shows us that orcas are being exploited by theme park organisations. Their impressive intellect and superior ability to learn has made them victims of extensive, monotonous training routines that result in the gradual development of emotional stress.
In the documentary, Tilikum is said to be responsible for the death of three trainers. The whale’s history is also narrated in the documentary. Tilikum was captured in the wild as a calf and was subjected to a dull life in captivity. The trainers also comment on how his personality changed over the years. Tilikum was also a victim of harassment by the other dominant whales in captivity, and was often attacked. From a timid calf, he become an aggressive adult. The most shocking part of the documentary was how the park officials covered the murders! Yes they called them a series unfortunate training accidents.
Blackfish is one of the best documentaries pertaining to animal cruelty. A viewer will be fascinated the incidents discussed in the documentary and the complex human-like psychology of the magnificent orca.