Welcome to Blackfished, a series which will take a look at the claims made in the popular anti-captivity film Blackfish and by its supporters.
Today we'll investigate the claim that SeaWorld's orcas are starved in order to force them to perform.
"Food deprivation was a tool often used when I was a trainer. The concept is straightforward: Reduce the number of calories a whale gets over a period of time and that animal becomes increasingly food motivated. Animals are generally more likely to cooperate with trainers when they are hungry. Food deprivation is a normal component of the training environment, at least while I was a trainer." - John Jett, former SeaWorld trainer and Blackfish cast member The quote above came from an article on Voice of the Orcas, a blog run by four (anti-captivity) former SeaWorld trainers.
Another trainer at the same blog, John Hargrove, said trainers were not supposed to deprive animals of food, and that a trainer who starved animals into performing "was a poor trainer and [was] using techniques not taught [t]o us in the SeaWorld system".
Since reports from former trainers directly contradict each other, it makes more sense to look at other sources of information.
First, SeaWorld's orcas do not perform just to get fed. The video below, taken in July 2015 by a visitor to SeaWorld San Diego, shows an entire "Dine With Shamu" show where the orcas are never given a single fish (primary reinforcement), but are instead rewarded with ice, toys, rubdowns, and more (secondary reinforcement).
(The whales in the video above are Kasatka [38 years old], Orkid [26 years old], Nakai [14 years old], Kalia [10 years old], Makani [2 years old], and Amaya [<1 year old])
SeaWorld has described their own training methods in their Animal Training Infobook. Basically, if an animal at SeaWorld does not perform the correct behavior, they will be give a chance to try it again, but will not be rewarded for incorrect behavior. SeaWorld's animals receive a set amount of food each day (a "base"), which does not change based on their behavior.If an orca does not perform the desired behaviors, the food which they might not get during a showis always given to them by the end of the day.
It looks as though the claims that SeaWorld "forces" their animals to perform through food deprivation are false.
Stay tuned for Blackfished Part Two, where we'll take a look at mother and calf separations.
Does SeaWorld starve their animals? ›
If an orca does not perform the desired behaviors, the food which they might not get during a showis always given to them by the end of the day. It looks as though the claims that SeaWorld "forces" their animals to perform through food deprivation are false.How Blackfish affected SeaWorld? ›
Magnolia Pictures. After the film's public premiere, SeaWorld adamantly downplayed “the Blackfish effect” — the spiraling threat that the documentary had on SeaWorld's reputation. In the year following Blackfish's release, SeaWorld's attendance dropped by one million visitors.What are the key points in Blackfish? ›
BLACKFISH delves into the tragedy, folly, and cruelty of hunting wild orcas and keeping them captive in an unnatural manner. It also seeks to uncover the truth of the danger and death behind shows in which killer whales frolic, leap, and splash the audience on cue.How does SeaWorld mistreat their animals? ›
SeaWorld often keeps dolphins, whales, and other animals trapped with incompatible tankmates. The tension leads to fights and even fatal injuries. Staff members drug some animals to try to relieve their endless frustration.Does SeaWorld actually help animals? ›
SeaWorld has come to the aid over 40,000 ill, injured and orphaned animals in need. Available 24/7/365, the dedicated team of animal care, veterinary and animal rescue experts will always answer the call to help an animal. SeaWorld's legacy of animal rescue spans more than 50 years.Does SeaWorld treat their animals well? ›
“SeaWorld is American Humane Certified which means we have inspected their facilities and they met our rigorous certification criteria for the good welfare and humane treatment of animals.Has SeaWorld improved since Blackfish? ›
Even after nine years of confrontation catalyzed by boycott propaganda such as “Blackfish,” practically nothing has changed at SeaWorld. And what's most shocking is that despite the cruelty that orcas face in captivity, the gates to SeaWorld are still open.What happened as a result of Blackfish? ›
Blackfish didn't end the industry. It helped focus attention on orca captivity in North America and Europe, but in China, they're building marine parks one after the other, and until recently Russian fishermen were still capturing wild orcas to sell.What was the result of Blackfish? ›
Blackfish revealed a positive trend towards thinking of animals as an individual, sentient beings and provided a harsh wake-up call for many people who unknowingly fuelled an industry whose foundations were built on cruelty, captivity and violence.Why was Blackfish removed? ›
Some, like the Hollywood Reporter, claim the documentary is being removed to make room for newer shows and movies. Others claim that the documentary falsely stated that the interviewees in the movie were inexperienced in Killer Whale training, as most primarily worked with other animals.
What does SeaWorld have to say about Blackfish? ›
“Blackfish” looked at the mental state of whales taken from their pods in the wild and raised at marine parks. SeaWorld responded with a public-relations campaign, including a letter to movie critics that said “Blackfish” was misleading and agenda driven.Can you eat Blackfish? ›
The meat of the blackfish, also called tautog, is ideal for chowders; it's firm and holds up well under heat. And blackfish taste like what they eat—mussels, barnacles, crabs and lobsters, another reason why it's known as the chowder fish.Does SeaWorld still abuse animals 2022? ›
Although SeaWorld ended its sordid orca-breeding program, the company continues to sexually abuse dolphins. Unwilling male dolphins are masturbated, and females are torn out of the water and sometimes drugged so they can't fight back while staff members shove tubes filled with semen into their uteruses.Why does SeaWorld drug their animals? ›
We now know that SeaWorld gives medication to orcas repeatedly to reduce stress and to control stress-related diseases. Drugs routinely administered include antibiotics, antacids, and sometimes antidepressants and anti-psychotics. The reasons such drugs are needed is that orcas do not do well in captivity.What animals does SeaWorld abuse? ›
- Beluga Whales. Dozens of beluga whales have died at SeaWorld parks. ...
- Dolphins. Here's an interesting fact: Orcas are actually a type of dolphin! ...
- Penguins. ...
- Sea Lions and Walruses. ...
- Sharks. ...
- Other Animals Suffering at SeaWorld.
The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund non-profit has given over $17 million in support of over 1,200 research & conservation projects across the globe - from animal conservation, habitat protection, & more.How many animals does SeaWorld save per year? ›
SeaWorld rescue teams are located in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego and are on call 24x7, 365 days a year to help. The more than 40,000 animals rescued span diverse species such as aquatic birds, pinnipeds, turtles, manatees, whales, dolphins, otters and a wide range of other mammals and fish.Did SeaWorld stop breeding animals? ›
SeaWorld has ended its killer whale breeding program, making the orcas in our care the last generation. Our whales will continue to thrive under the best veterinary care for the remainder of their lives here. We've introduced an all-new orca experience, Orca Encounter, at SeaWorld San Diego.What does SeaWorld do when an animal dies? ›
Every animal that dies at SeaWorld first undergoes a necropsy. In many cases parts of or all of the skeletons are kept or donated for educational displays.Why did SeaWorld stop orca shows? ›
The move comes after years of pressure by animal rights and animal welfare advocates, including some scientists who have argued that these animals shouldn't be kept in captivity.
Is Shamu still alive? ›
Shamu had also been showing signs of erratic behavior and of being upset just before the incident. Shamu died about four months later, on August 16, 1971.Does SeaWorld still swim with killer whales? ›
This headline has been updated to clarify that SeaWorld trainers will not be able to swim with killer whales in the future, and that SeaWorld had previously stopped the practice during its appeal.What did SeaWorld do with Tilikum's body? ›
SeaWorld Spokeswoman Aimee Jeansonne Becka has stated that the orca's body was “disposed in accordance with Florida law.” Law allows for the body to be incinerated, buried, or “rendered” by a licensed company, converting the animals waste tissue into other materials.Who was the lady killed by a killer whale at SeaWorld? ›
Dawn Therese Brancheau (née LoVerde, April 16, 1969 – February 24, 2010) was an American senior animal trainer at SeaWorld. She worked with orcas at SeaWorld Orlando for fifteen years, including a leading role in revamping the Shamu show, and was SeaWorld's poster girl. She was killed by an orca, Tilikum.Did Blackfish get sued? ›
Six years after SeaWorld Entertainment was sued for allegedly deceiving stockholders about the damaging impact the “Blackfish” documentary was having on theme park attendance, a federal judge on Friday approved a $65-million payout to aggrieved investors.Was Blackfish removed from Netflix? ›
However, in 2021, for unexplained reasons, Netflix removed Blackfish from their platform.Is the whale from Blackfish still alive? ›
Declining health and death
In May 2016, it was reported Tilikum's health was improving. On January 6, 2017, SeaWorld announced that Tilikum had died early in the morning. The cause of death was reported as a bacterial infection.
A Lannister soldier later reports to Jaime that the Blackfish was killed while resisting arrest.Did SeaWorld agree to pay $5 million in Blackfish effect case? ›
SeaWorld to pay $65 million settlement to investors over impact of "Blackfish" doc. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. agreed to pay $65 million on Tuesday to settle a lawsuit related to the documentary "Blackfish." The theme park was accused of lying to investors about the impact the film had on its finances.What ocean fish can you not eat? ›
Are you aware that four fish have been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( USDA ) and Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) to be unsafe to eat due to their typically high levels of mercury? Making the “do not eat” list are King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish and Tilefish.
Can you eat Amazon fish? ›
The sheer variety of fish to be found in the region is almost limitless, but there are some firm favorites that are particularly flavorsome and have long been considered mainstays of the region's cuisine. All the fish you'll encounter in the Amazon will likely be extremely fresh and flavorful.Can you eat fish straight from the ocean? ›
As in some fish—like types of Tuna—can often be eaten straight from the ocean, but other fish—like Salmon—can not be eaten raw unless it's been properly treated.Does SeaWorld still breed dolphins? ›
SeaWorld Ended Its Breeding Program, but Orcas and Dolphins Are Still Trapped in Their Tanks | Take Action Tuesday @EarthFoodLife – Independent Media Institute.Why should animals not be kept at SeaWorld? ›
The Animals Suffer in Cramped, Unnatural Living Conditions
They would need to swim 1,208 laps (around the perimeter of the tank) or 3,105 lengths (back and forth at the longest part of the tank) in the park's largest tank to equal what they'd swim in the wild.
There are 140 dolphins at SeaWorld crammed into just seven tanks, and trainers stand on their backs and faces, riding them like surfboards during shows—a practice that can damage their hearing, strain muscles and joints, and exacerbate the injuries caused by confinement to the cramped tanks.How do I shut down SeaWorld? ›
- Watch Blackfish With Your Friends! ...
- Let SeaWorld Know How You Feel. ...
- Spread the Word to Everyone You Know—Right Now. ...
- Take to the Streets! ...
- Rock a 'SeaWorld Kills' or 'SeaWorld Sucks' Tee.
Their diet in the wild depends on what is available, and may include fish, walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, squid, sea turtles, sharks and whales. According to SeaWorld, each of their adult orcas receives 140 to 240 pounds of food per day, primarily herring, capelin, salmon and mackerel.Does SeaWorld feed their orcas? ›
They feed on live prey, as they are hunters, not scavengers. In SeaWorld parks, orcas are fed frozen-thawed fish and generally eat the same meal every day with little to no variation.What does SeaWorld do when an orca dies? ›
In captivity, the body of a dead dolphin or whale will have a post-mortem carried out on it. This means that the reason for death will be explored, by dissecting the body. Then the parts of the body will be disposed of carefully..How does SeaWorld treat their animals 2022? ›
Although SeaWorld ended its sordid orca-breeding program, the company continues to sexually abuse dolphins. Unwilling male dolphins are masturbated, and females are torn out of the water and sometimes drugged so they can't fight back while staff members shove tubes filled with semen into their uteruses.
Are orcas at SeaWorld depressed? ›
A former SeaWorld trainer says captive Orcas are showing signs of boredom and depression. John Hargrove took video from the San Diego park which, he says, proves the animals are suffering in captivity. One clip shows a female Orca that Hargrove claims is too depressed to nurse its own offpring.Can you swim with orcas at SeaWorld? ›
SeaWorld will not be appealing the citations it received following the drowning of one of its trainers who was pulled under by a killer whale. This article is from the archive of our partner .Do orcas eat dolphins? ›
Looking at all populations, orcas are generalist eaters, consuming fish, seals and sea lions, dolphins and porpoises, sharks and rays, large whales, cephalopods (octopods and squids), seabirds and more.Is Shamu still at SeaWorld? ›
Shamu shows throughout the years.
|2011–2019||One Ocean (played from 2011–2017 in San Diego, 2011–2019 in Orlando and 2011–2020 in San Antonio),|
As of January 9, 2023 there are:
At least 173 orcas have died in captivity, not including 30 miscarried or still-born calves. SeaWorld holds 18 orcas in its three parks in the United States. At least 44 orcas have died at SeaWorld.
Dawn Therese Brancheau (née LoVerde, April 16, 1969 – February 24, 2010) was an American senior animal trainer at SeaWorld. She worked with orcas at SeaWorld Orlando for fifteen years, including a leading role in revamping the Shamu show, and was SeaWorld's poster girl. She was killed by an orca, Tilikum.