My Problem with Blackfish: From Taiji Dolphins to Marius the Giraffe to Baby Seals

I know, I know.  I’m asking for it.  Legions of activists will froth at the mouth because I’m supporting Sea World…but as a native San Diegan, I’ve seen the conservation efforts firsthand and regardless of my opinion on killer whales in captivity, I know that the work that Sea World does truly makes a difference.  When a seal pup is sitting on a La Jolla street, who would you call if Sea World wasn’t around?  Injured wildlife has a second chance so long as Sea World is present.  And frankly, Blackfish only shows one side of the story.  A true documentary does not push an agenda, rather it presents all of the facts and allows the audience to make up its mind.

But here’s my biggest frustration with the Blackfish people: Where were you with The Cove?  Seriously, that movie received critical acclaim and landed nominations and awards from the Golden Globes to the Oscars…and yet no one did anything about it’s horrific message of slaughter in Taiji.  Sea World may be keeping killer whales in bathtubs, but they’ve never slaughtered thousands of dolphins in the name of science or cuisine on a yearly basis.

This past winter, thousands of dolphins were rounded up in Taiji and slaughtered at such a rate that the water turned red with their blood.  One little dolphin calf, a rare albino, was plucked from the pod, away from his frantic mother.  He was too valuable to kill.  His mother didn’t end up as fortunate.  How can we allow this to continue?

When JJ the grey whale was rehabilitated by Sea World over a decade ago, she was released into the wild with a tracking device.  That tracking device went silent right around the time that the Japanese were capturing whales for their “research.”  JJ was used to people and she often swam up to boats.  It’s entirely possible that she swam right up to the people who would kill her.

When the Copenhagen Zoo had an extra giraffe, poor Marius was tricked into eating his favorite snack so that keepers could shoot him in the head, dissect him, and feed him to the lions.  Other parks would have taken him, but the European Zoo agency wouldn’t let him be transferred outside of their jurisdiction.  Therefore, he had to die.  (This still gives me nightmares)

Every year, baby seals are clubbed to death for their lucrative snow-white fur.  They are skinned so that their ice flows are stained with blood while their terrified mothers watch helplessly.  (The very thought that people can do this makes me sick)

Here’s the bottom line to this little rant: Sea World should absolutely create bigger places for its current whale populations to live.  At this point, returning them to the wild won’t work very well given their dependence on people.  However, with water pollution being what it is, these whales are living in a safer environment than they would be if they were in the wild.  Sea World should not take any whales from the wild from this point forward.  I think they have received this message loud and clear–and I totally agree with it.  Killer whales should not be torn from their pods.  Unfortunately, this was done back when humans didn’t know any better.  Now we know.  Now it needs to stop.

But activists should take heed of what’s going on in the world.  Killer whales at Sea World are safe, and local marine life benefits from Sea World’s conservation efforts.  Dolphins in Taiji need our help.  What is being done to them is the animal equivalent of the Holocaust.  And the fact that nothing is being done is a travesty.  People who have blindly jumped onto the Blackfish bandwagon, simply because it’s the popular thing to do right now, need to see that their collective strength could save lives if they applied their efforts in a constructive way.  They could save the dolphins in Taiji by putting pressure on the US Government to step in and stop the slaughter from taking place.  Dolphins have families and pods and near-to-human intelligence.  Can you imagine being ripped from your family only to hear your family scream in agony as they are brutally tortured and killed?  THIS is barbaric.  THIS needs to stop. NOW.

The waters in Taiji run red every year.  Let the Blackfish people go back and watch The Cove and direct some much needed attention toward saving lives.

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7 comments

    1. Thank you. I don’t disagree with Blackfish…I just think there are other areas that warrant concern. Ceasing to remove orcas from the wild moving forward is a good compromise.

      1. I’m with you. There’s many sides to the story. I don’t think wild animals should be kept in captivity, but sometimes it’s for the best when an animal is injured and won’t survive in the wild. I’m sure many animals are well cared for, but at the same time, I’m sure many are mistreated. A good step is to never take a healthy wild animal into captivity though. Although, even that is grey, with conservation programs and all. Lots of issues to consider.

      2. I agree completely. Growing up in San Diego, I spent many summers at Sea World summer camps. We went behind the scenes and saw firsthand the injured animals being rehabilitated. Most of these animals will never be on display, but thanks to Sea World, they were able to be released. I distinctly remember seeing sea lions whose cataracts were so bad that they’d be helpless on their own. Now they are living comfortably, out of danger. This issue runs deep and I fear that there are discrepancies on both sides of the story. Meanwhile, the Taiji dolphins are slaughtered every year.

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