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Propaganda Behind Blackfish

Updated on April 24, 2017

SeaWorld has been under scrutiny since the documentary called Blackfish was distributed. Blackfish is a film that interviews past killer whale trainers and scientists that agree that the captivity of the mammals can provoke violence within them. SeaWorld took to their website to discuss important points that Blackfish made in the documentary. SeaWorld makes the point that Blackfish leaves out important information or gives wrong information. Blackfish does not include the years that these trainers where working at SeaWorld, but from the information given by SeaWorld it is known that many of the interviewees have not worked at SeaWorld for decades.

There is a recent SeaWorld trainer named Kyle Kittleson who responds to the propaganda within Blackfish. Kittleson speaks out about the questions that linger in the heads of Blackfish audiences. The main question that everyone has is, why does SeaWorld not move the Orcas to an open water pen? Kittleson describes the harm that moving killer whales to a harsh environment will potentially kill them. Removing these animals from perfect water quality, perfect water temperature, perfect amount of food and placing them in water that changes drastically and exposing them to germs and bacteria that their bodies do not know how to fend off.

There are people who believe that SeaWorld not only caught Tilikum but also continue to catch killer whales from the wild to this day. The killer whales that they have at the parks were collected over four decades ago and SeaWorld has not collected Orcas from the wild for over 35 years (“Why”). Blackfish creates an environment that manipulates their viewers into believing their propaganda.

Throughout the documentary, Blackfish uses certain scenes with frightening music or with incorrect voice overs that makes the audience believe that these animals are psychotic. Two in particular that Kyle Kittleson speaks about could change the minds of many anti-SeaWorld advocates:

  • There is a specific scene where Samantha Berg is describing her time riding a killer whale with a video of a young woman riding an Orca but not only did Kittleson say that this woman is not Samantha Berg but also SeaWorld. The young woman in the video is Holly Byrd who spoke out about the Blackfish scene. The audio of many scenes does not correlate with the videos being played.
  • Another scene portrays killer whales as violent animals because it shows a trainer, John Hargrove, with a bloody face and terrifying music playing in the background. Kittleson points out that this incident has nothing to do with a killer whale attack. Hargrove actually hit his face on a screen, which describes the manipulation that comes from misinformation.

The arrangement of videos, voice overs and music creates tension with the audience which is what Blackfish wants out of their watcher. They want people to believe that these killer whales are dangerous by giving false information.

Since 2013 when Blackfish was released, SeaWorld has been making huge changes for their Killer Whale exhibit, which is called the Blue World Project. SeaWorld has also ended the breeding program of Killer Whales. This is the last generation of Orcas in their care. The Blue World Project is a new exhibit where the Orca’s habitat will expand from 5.8 million gallon pool to 9.6 million gallon pool (Burns). The construction of the new killer whale environment started in 2014 and will finally be opened summer of 2017 at San Diego SeaWorld.

These changes were not necessarily made due to the negative impact that Blackfish has made on the SeaWorld corporation but the strong voices of people in the world. SeaWorld is an education based park where it is their mission to pass information to their guests to “[inspire] people to care for and protect wild animals and wild places” (Explore).

This is Holly Byrd, the woman who rides the Orca in the documentary Blackfish

Kyle Kittleson is a recent former Orca trainer who speaks out about the false information in Blackfish

This is just one of the many changes that SeaWorld is making for Killer Whales

Burns, Maddi. "The Blue World Project Sparks Much-Needed Change At SeaWorld." Odyssey. N.p., 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Entertainment, SeaWorld Parks &. Explore SeaWorld Cares | SeaWorld Cares. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Entertainment, SeaWorld Parks &. "Why "Blackfish" Is Propaganda, Not a Documentary." Truth About Blackfish. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.

SeaWorld Killer Whale Trainer Responds to "Blackfish". Prod. Kyle Kittleson. Perf. Kyle Kittleson. N.p., 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.


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