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"Blackfish": Maybe Humans and Killer Whales Can't Play Together 

Wednesday, Jul 24 2013

Blackfish Poor James Earl Jones. He pops up in the abundant archival footage used in Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary, which looks at the mistreatment of killer whales at Sea World and subsequent cover-ups when they attack humans. Jones is seen on screens cheerfully welcoming visitors to Sea World's "Shamu Show" in the early '90s, surely unaware of the atrocious treatment of the whales he's introducing. Keeping killer whales in captivity is revealed to be a bad idea on every level, and former trainers reveal how little training they themselves received before getting in the water with the ginormous creatures that have good reason to be grumpy about their lot in life. Blackfish is engrossing but suitably depressing, with no shortage of footage of humans being inhumane to whales, and the whales doing plenty of damage in return, for reasons that the parks inevitably pin on human error, if they acknowledge it at all. (When a ponytailed trainer gets pulled into the water and killed, a Sea World executive blames it on the ponytail.) Blackfish is also a prime example of crowdsourcing, with a handful of Flickr and YouTube accounts mined for footage; it's probably only a matter of time before Sea World bans cameras.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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