Last weekend, my brother and I watched this film BlackFish. A documentary about the incident that happened at SeaWorld Orlando where an orca, named Tilikum, attacked its own trainer to death.
The movie was a compilation of testimonials from former trainers in the said amusement park about what really happened that fateful day. They shared important facts that are often denied to the public. How these killer whales are treated in the confinements of SeaWorld. How they were captured and ended up in that dungeon against their will. How they behave differently in captivity, a clear effect of taking them away from their natural habitat. There are footages showing orcas attacking their own trainers, not because of some violent nature or anything, but due to agitation and irritation. According to researchers, no killer whales in the wilds were reported exhibiting such behaviors because it is not in the nature of these creatures to be aggressive. They even suspect that Tilikum has developed psychosis due to his traumatic experiences inside the pool.
And do you remember Keiko, the one who played Willy in the movie Free Willy? He had that signature collapsed dorsal fin, right? These cases only happen in captivity. Researchers assured that 100% of male orcas in their natural homes have erect and straight dorsal fin. It is not normal for these orcas to have such defect. It is an obvious sign of poor health. This rare occurrence happens due to lack of enough space or water for the orcas to swim on and move about.
It is so saddening to think that people do such inhumane things just for the sake of what? Entertainment? Profit? It is heart-breaking to see what they made out of these naughty but gentle creatures.
I have always been fascinated by these beautiful creatures. I first saw them in that film Orca, that classic movie that starred Richard Harris (yes, the same man who played Albus Dumbledore). Then, the Free Willy series. And since then I fell in love with their cuteness. I so adore these cuties that I once dreamt of becoming a marine biologist if only to have a chance of close encounters with them. I still dream of seeing them and touching them, if possible. It still is number 1 on my bucket list. No, not watching them performing and indulging the audience in the confines of some fancy theme park but observing them swimming freely and breaching as high as they can across the vastness of their natural home. And yes, protecting them in my own simple ways.
image from web