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Old 11-01-2013, 12:59 PM
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I really enjoyed this documentary a lot! Just curious did anyone else watch it? Did you like it, didn't like it? Thoughts?

I was shocked when they discussed about the former head trainer of Sea land using punishment training methods with an Orca, that thought had just never entered my mind as a possibility or anything anyone would do, even back in the day.
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:34 PM
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Haven't seen it yet, but I believe part of the thrust of it was captivity made the orcas psychotic and that's why there have been attacks... which seems like a stretch to me. Maybe there are attacks because people are spending many many hours in the presence of a 10,000 lb predator? Sure they haven't attacked anyone in the wild but then they're rarely in a position to. If you spent hundreds or thousands of hours swimming right by and touching wild orcas, one might kill you some day. Secondly, I believe several of the attacks are by the one whale Tillakum. Sometimes particular animals are more aggressive or whatever... it happens with any species.

And IIRC it says SeaWorld is immoral by putting its employees at risk etc. Which is even dumber... these trainers are actually working with the animals, they talk with other people working right with the animals, and probably know quite a bit about orcas. I'm pretty sure they know as much or more about the risks then you or I, and they still choose to do it. Or are they all going to abandon their jobs after watching this documentary? I mean, if you we can't let people swim with orcas anymore because of a few incidents then what are we going to do about logging or commercial fishing??

I do plan to watch it soon and I hope it's not as silly and sensational as I think it is.
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:45 PM
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I have not seen it , but will have to !


AND

I read the title and Immediately thought , GRRM better be writing Winds of Winter and not another side project about the Blackfish .............
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:04 PM
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I watched it... I'm not sure what to think. I watched it trying to keep an open mind. It's obviously a very emotionally charged documentary. There was basically only one guy to speak in any kind of opposition, and he had I think all of two clips where he didn't really get to make his case. I also tried to remember PETA could quite easily put together a boo-hoo, doggies in crates kind of documentary - and I believe the HSUS was involved with this documentary, at least were big supporters.

That said, there's obvious problems that come up in the documentary. Keeping orcas in captivity is bad for their health. Their lifespans are cut almost in half. Some kind of only 3% of males have tipped dorsal fins in the wild? Maybe that's insignificant, but it's an obvious physical affect of captivity.


The one guy they had arguing to the contrary made the point that he believes there's something wrong with Tilikum in particular that has made him the result of three deaths. And Tilikum was used as a breeding male so a huge percentage of the captive orca population now has Tilikum in them, so if there's legit something wrong with him he could have passed it on. There was one other death featured in the documentary that wasn't Tilikum. And several attacks by other orcas.

After I watched it I did some reading. Orcas haven't killed people in the wild but they HAVE attacked and injured them. So the attacks in captivity, is that a behavioural difference than what happens in the wild? By nature of humans interacting with them and training them, things will happen... dog trainers get bitten sometimes... it's just much worse when something happens by an orca than if you were training, say, a parakeet.
Also it seems like returning captive orcas to the wild doesn't go well for the orca. They tried to return Keiko (Free Willy) to the wild and were never unsuccessful. Keiko died in captivity. If he HAD lived longer perhaps they would have succeeded, but again with the shortened lifespans playing a part. Keiko was kept in an ocean pen which one of the ex-trainers recommended doing, but logistically I think there's legit concerns with that. An ocean pen still isn't big enough, how many of those pens can you have? And what happens when an ARist cuts the nets (which Sealand was afraid of) and the orca gets into the ocean and can't survive? Should you just humanely euth all the captive orcas instead..?


It does seem like orcas in captivity is not good for orcas in the long run. But then where do you draw the line? Ultimately no zoos? There are species who are highly highly endangered in the wild, species that are only around right now because of captive breeding programs... so do you just say boo to that, some species are meant to die out..?

I don't know the solution. It was a thought-provoking documentary, that's for sure. Not balanced at all, but that wasn't the point. It was to cause a very distinct reaction. I think they succeeded based on a lot of comment threads online I've read about it


ETA: I wanted to add, in response to the above - the criticism against Sea World for how they don't really prepare their trainers is, I believe, fair, given what was presented by the ex-trainers in the doc. They were selected for their skill as an entertainer, and how well they could swim... not because they were talented trainers.

Fran interned at a Sea World IIRC and I know she has some strong feelings on this. Hopefully she'll chime in.


ETA2: Also wanted to add... the last fatal incident involving Tilikum, the ex-trainers made several notes about the video of her accident where the trainer made some apparent errors and resulted in a frustrated animal. Then they were outraged that Sea World called the result an accident of trainer error. It seems to me like trainer error must have played a part, or the other trainers wouldn't have acknowledged the few things that happened. I don't think that means the attack was "her fault" (which I think is what they object to - Sea World is taking the track that this is the victim's fault) but it does seem like there were contributing factors that, if they hadn't happened, the end result wouldn't have been the same. It's a horrible accident and honestly, Tilly had killed one trainer and one other person. If he killed one trainer, that's probably just one trainer too many and he should have been retired from any kind of water work at that point. Fault rests with Sea World for encouraging it to continue, and it sounds like the trainer may have inadvertently caused Tilikum to be frustrated and he acted out as he apparently only knew how... by killing her.
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:17 PM
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I should watch it but not sure i will.

I know several who have and do work for sea world. Old neighbors works with the whales but is not a trainer that does shows. Not sure really what she does.

My brothers ex worked one in California and is in Florida now doing manatee research I think for them.

They both enjoy it and do it because they loved marine animals. Captivity is never ideal but I don't know what an answer is. Many zoos and sanctuaries are breeding programs for certain animals. Where do we draw a line?

It would be great if thy had parks on the ocean they could fence in huge areas but unlikely to happen.

And with giant animals in little area someone is going to get hurt or die occasionally. It happens.
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:48 PM
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I thought part of the deal with Tillakum was that the first two deaths were iffy... I know I read in one, they never saw what happened, they just found a drowned guy in his pool. In another, another orca attacked someone and Tillakum was maybe involved. I'm on my
Phone so I'm not fact checking. Even if right that seems negligent considering what's at stake... Can't help but think that sea world truly thought the trainers were safe though. Even if they otherwise don't care, Why would they set themselves up for a PR nightmare over one whale?

As far as keeping them in captivity, maybe theyre fine but I can't help but think its cruel for Beanies reasons, plus it just seems so finitely restrictive. If they were put out in a seapen part time, or if they closed off a bay for their habitat i wouldnt mind. i just think to myself that I'm somewhat fat and lazy and even I like to run through a forest or field sometimes.

I hope no one thinks they should all be rewilded, really not practical. The young ones were mostly/all born in captivity, so have no wild family, which is a big setback, and the older ones are likely to be Keiko 2.0, though maybe if he hasn't died if pneumonia. (I wonder what went through his brain when he discovered he had endless space for the first time since he was a calf.)

We could just ban breeding/ importing them though, I wonder if you can sterilize them.
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:54 PM
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I haven't watched it, but we have discussed it at work a bit. From what I've heard, it's VERY one-sided and may or may not be completely true. I'm going to leave it at that until I actually see it for myself.
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:59 PM
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Everyone has been talking about it but I don't have many channels on TV so I couldn't watch the show. I really want to see it though. Anyone know if it is or will be available online or elsewhere for people like me to watch?
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xandra View Post
I thought part of the deal with Tillakum was that the first two deaths were iffy... I know I read in one, they never saw what happened, they just found a drowned guy in his pool. In another, another orca attacked someone and Tillakum was maybe involved. I'm on my
Phone so I'm not fact checking. Even if right that seems negligent considering what's at stake... Can't help but think that sea world truly thought the trainers were safe though. Even if they otherwise don't care, Why would they set themselves up for a PR nightmare over one whale?
The "official" story on the first death (at Sealand) was it was the two females who killed the trainer and Tilikum was just in the pool. But eye witnesses said no, it was the big one with the bent dorsal fin - which would have been Tilly. Of course, you can sometimes wonder about an eye witness account. He's the biggest and he had a bent dorsal fin, therefore he would have made the biggest impression, and they could have been mistaken as a result. The mind does tricky things.
Trainers said after they got Tilikum at Sea World, they didn't think anything of it, but there were higher ups that reacted... strange. Like one person was walking past the pool with him in it and said "Oh, hi Tilly, hi Tilly" and one of the higher ups started screaming GET HER AWAY FROM THERE. Why would he react like that if they weren't worried? I'm sure they probably convinced themselves they were fine, because he was more or less going to be a goldmine for them (and is as their breeding cash cow.) Businesses don't always make decisions about what's actually best for their companies or their employees if the potential payoff is $$$$$.

As for the mystery (I believe homeless) guy - in the documentary the ex-trainers talk about how many cameras they have set up around the tanks and how there are nightwatch people who watch the tanks. The ex-trainers basically don't buy that nobody saw what happened with the homeless guy. They think somebody had to have heard/seen something and if nothing else there has to be SOME kind of video... but obviously it was covered up. They portrayed the guy instead as a crazy homeless guy who climbed into the tank naked and he drowned or died of hypothermia. However, the official autopsy report did say Tilly had maimed the guy... bitten off his genitals was one comment I remember... and from what the documentary claims, Tilikum ripped off the clothes rather than the guy climbing in naked (because the clothes were found in the tank, IIRC.)


I do think it's worth watching, guys. It's upsetting, that's for sure, and yes, it's one-sided. But it's thought provoking.

One thing I definitely have a problem with after watching the doc - dividing up the family units. I get that in captivity it's not entirely realistic to keep the family units together but no. No. It shouldn't be done.


AmberH, they showed it on CNN and that's the only way I happened to catch it (I saw them advertise it during football as it happens.) I had seen the ads for it online when it was originally released and thought I would like to see it but probably would not have sought it out were it not on CNN... you might be able to see if it's on Netflix or anything like that. I'm not sure.
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:13 PM
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I'm really enjoying reading everyone's input.

What I thought while watching the movie was about how at the very least, Sea world shouldn't be allowed to breed Orcas and separate them from their parents. As highly bonded social animals that spend their lives together in the wild it seems incredibly ignorant to sell off baby animal's to other zoo's.

They have footage of the one Orca female mom after Seaworld sold her calf to another park of her making long range vocalization's and distress vocalizations for hours.

They also have a neuroscientist in the film discussing the fMRI scans linking Orca's emotional response centre (sorry layman term I know that's not the correct term) that is actually higher in capacity and more formed then humans. Leading the neuroscientific community to conclude that Orcas lead highly emotional lives. To separate a calf from a mother seem's beyond barbaric, knowing in the wild they spend there entire lives together.

What I really took away from the film was the series of events that Tilikum has gone through in captivity. At seaplace or whatever it was called in Victoria, BC the training methods used pair training with a trained Orca, and when Tilikum did not complete a behaviour both were sent away without food for the evening. They were stored overnight in very small shipping pods and Tilikum frequently was covered in teeth rakes by the other Orca.

There are eye witness accounts in the film from people who witnessed Tilikum pull under and kill the trainer at seaplace in Victoria BC sharing their accounts of never being followed up with by an investiagtor. I guess they could just be making it up, but I don't think they were.

I agree the film was biased in that the one former trainer got a very small percentage of time to speak vs everyone else that was pro. the story line. However there were good accounts of the day of the attack that the whales had been going after each other (previous to this, tilikum had to be separeted from the females because they were attacking him so frequently and he was too big to get away, plus it's a small pool where was he going to go). They said the day of the attack Tilikum had missed the bridge to get his fish for his behaviour (didn't respond to the whistle maybe didn't hear it). Dawn's bucket was also almost empty and the ex-trainers commented on how the whales an hear more ice clanging around near the bottom and know that the reinforcement is almost done. He didn't get reinforced and then shortly after pulled Dawn in and killed her. My impression if anything, and it's just my 0.02 is there were a lot of past traumatic triggers on that day ( aggressive behaviors by other whales before the show, not being reinforced for a behaviour he performed could deffiently trigger the same frustration as when he was not being fed as punishment).

On the flip side I have to give kudos to seaworld for sueing the really crummy little aqurium here and taking back custody of their Orca citing Marineland as not being committed to advances in Orca care and training and mental stimulation.

The downside is now Marineland has just one Orca female living alone in social isolation, something illegal in the states but not in Canada.

I don't know if captivity alone contributes to psychological stress to Orca's but I'm sure any Orca that is cut off from it's family pod (especially back in the day any Orca's who were caught in the wild) is going to be under extreme distress. It also in my opinion is equally traumatic be seperating captive born calfs from their mothers as they would never have to live apart in the wild and have evolved to have this bond and family unit for however long they've been around for.

Whale on whale aggression is a big problem in captivity according to the ex-trainers, and there's a lot of footage of that in the film with several Orca's being killed by other Orca's in their enclosure.

Even though it's biased I thought it was a great film!

I don't know what the solution is, but I do think mothers and calves need to stay together for life, and if that can't be accommodated then that park shouldn't be allowed to breed.
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