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Former Killer Whale Trainer Says “Blackfish is a lie”



**It is highly recommended that you watch the video in addition to reading this article.**

The sensationalism of Blackfish has created a major divide. There are those who believe killer whales at SeaWorld are mistreated and should be sent into the ocean, and those who know that all animals at SeaWorld have incredible, enriching, and healthy lives.

As a former Senior killer whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, I am asked about Blackfish on an almost daily basis. Most people are very considerate when asking me about the validity of the film. However, many people are hateful. Of course, these people are usually hiding behind social media.

I can say with certainty that the animals at SeaWorld are some of the luckiest animals in the world. They have access to a world class vet staff, plenty of food, and are cared for by passionate and talented trainers. The lies told in Blackfish are just that, lies. The whales are never withheld food, never forced to do anything, and have incredible relationships with their trainers. I have never described any animal I’ve made a relationship with as “sad,” or “angry.”

If I had watched Blackfish without ever working at SeaWorld, I would probably have believed the film to be true. Why wouldn’t I? The film promotes itself as a “documentary,” interviews actual former trainers, and provides chilling footage. It appears legitimate.

Understand, that is the power of Hollywood – making you feel a certain way, regardless of the truth.

Would Blackfish be as successful if it presented an unbiased, balanced, two sided argument? Of course, not.

Blackfish Could Have Changed Lives

I wish Blackfish tackled a real issue. Imagine the profound impact they could have made? Instead of attacking SeaWorld, who treats their animals with the best care, they could have gone after zoos and aquariums that actually mistreat animals. There are facilities (many abroad) that have animals in small cages and provide limited vet care (if any). Why are those institutions not being exposed? It is shameful that animals who need help go unnoticed, while thousands of people spend time and energy trying to “save” killer whales that don’t need saving. However, again, that would not have made as good of a movie. SeaWorld is a brand that is recognizable, therefore, a much better platform to set a movie around.

What We Can Learn

My biggest takeaway from Blackfish is this: what else have I read or seen that I believed to be true, but wasn’t? How many times have I felt angry after reading an article, not knowing that the article was false? How many times have I watched a segment on the news and felt sad, blinded by music and suggestive editing? Too many, I’m sure.

You must do your research. Real research. There is a misconception that becoming a marine mammal trainer is as easy as submitting an application. One of the reasons I created this website is to provide information for aspiring marine mammal trainers. They need to know how to prepare for this rewarding, yet competitive field.

Watching a movie is not doing research. Neither is reading an article. You have to dig deeper. You have to hear both sides and you have to check the facts. When you feel you have all the facts, then you can make an informed decision. Even then, you must admit you don’t have all the information.


I worked with the whales. Not just any whales. I worked with the same whales being discussed in Blackfish. So, when a movie states or implies trainers are interacting with the whales contrary to how I interacted with the whales, I know it is a lie. Nobody can argue with that.

Why Blackfish is Good

What is awesome about Blackfish is that it inspired passionate people to take a stand – even if it was an unnecessary one. This gives me hope. Imagine if all us took this energy and passion surrounding a movie and put it to use. What good could we do? How many lives could we change? More than you can imagine. My hope is one day, we are all united by a cause worth fighting for.


Other Reading:

Blackfish Analysis: A full breakdown of the misleading and/or inaccurate content.

CNN: posted an article titled, “‘Blackfish’ film ignores SeaWorld’s benefits to conservation, research.” (Blackfish is a member of CNN Films)

The Legal Roller Coaster: An attorney dives deep into the legal aspects of Blackfish.

Blackfish Exposed: Eric Davis from shares his interview with cast members of the film.

 IRateFilms: Author, Rick Swift, shares his insight on SeaWorld and Blackfish after speaking with trainers who currently work at SeaWorld.