Kiska whale_wb-2638-2

To See the Whales – How Blackfish Changed My Perspective

Imagine a new couple, raising a child for the first time. The father gets relocated to Florida and they make the dramatic move from Utica, New York to Indian Harbor Beach. As any new, working couple may do under these circumstances, they took their first born to see the mechanical wonders of Florida. They purchased a season pass to Disney World and occasionally visited Universal Studios. However, as a bright, energetic toddler I wanted one thing when we were racing down the highways of Orlando…

To see the whales.

And how magnificent they were. As you drive through Orlando, Florida you see the beautiful Orcas on large signs, gracefully spread across words saying “SeaWorld.” Step back and imagine what you first thought when you heard that name. Doesn’t it sound thrilling? As a small boy, I often loved thinking about sea life, particularly with my new interest in the oceans of Florida.

Then imagine something a little different.

For a second, just imagine a whale being taken from its home. The whale is ripped from its mother, held in captivity, starved and attacked. This is not something they tell you when you walk up to SeaWorld’s stadiums. Nobody told me when I purchased a Shamoo doll that I would be contributing to a multi-billion dollar industry that keeps these incredibly social and friendly animals captive and not only shortens their lifespans, but makes them unhappy and increasingly violent. I was unaware that a whale could look so happy, but be screaming inside.

However, this is not a lecture on what has already been so decisively examined in CNN’s documentary, “Blackfish.” This is a reflection and argument for the reason why we need to be more aware of the world around us. Working for REACT to FILM this summer is not only granting me the opportunity to learn about issues like this, but also to work with professionals who are motivating all people, young or old, to gain awareness.

Even “Blackfish” Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, in an interview with takepart.com, admits to routinely taking her daughter to SeaWorld when she was a child. Upon investigating this subject over two years, however, she emphasizes that “we need to educate children about why these whales are so important, why they’re so beautiful, what their unique characteristics are, because these kids are also going the be the world’s future marine biologists.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, there was a 13% decrease in attendance at SeaWorld in the beginning of 2014, suggesting that “Blackfish” made an impact just months after premiering on CNN. I know that I will never visit SeaWorld again, but will instead actively promote for the well-being of Orcas. After watching “Blackfish,” I realized that if this film were never created, I may have never known about the cruelties of SeaWorld. This demonstrates how important it is to create awareness so that we can watch change happen around us and ultimately see a better future.

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