Michelle's Review of DASW (Part 2)

Since the last "Death At SeaWorld" blog post, I have read another 20 chapters. That being said, this time around will be more of a reflection than a summary. If you have yet to read this book, I would highly recommend reading it or at least read it up to chapter 27 before reading this blog post! 

Attention! Spoilers!

I am not someone who particularly enjoys reading and at times this book is challenging for me to continue. It's not that the book is "bad" or anything close to it; there is just a lot, and I mean a lot of background information I was not expecting. I know as I am reading this that everything is going to connect and all the information will be appreciated by the end of book. 

Since the last blog, I have learned more about Naomi Rose's journey as a marine  biologist and her study of the resident killer whale population in British Columbia. On the other side, I have also been educated on the "behind the scenes" of SeaWorld through Jeff Ventre's journey as a killer whale trainer. Although the book jumps from one person's story to another almost every chapter, I really enjoy the constant contrast between captive orcas and wild orcas. 

I was surprised to learn that Jeff was fired from SeaWorld. I had assumed he had chosen to leave the company due to his conflicting feelings of the place. The book does go into detail about his thoughts and changing feelings towards SeaWorld leading up to him being fired. 

I remember reading that SeaWorld indirectly stopped outside research of wild killer whales presumably because they did not want anything conflicting with the so called facts they were feeding their employees and paying customers. This astounded me because here is a company that claims to support research and marine mammal education for the public yet it undermines the attempts to get solid research on Orcas in the wild. 

I was excited when I reached a chapter entitled " Free Willy ". This chapter dove deep into the struggle of freeing the real "Free Willy", Keiko. I watched the film "Keiko's Journey Home" and I found that the film made it seem a lot easier than it really was. The film made it seem as though Keiko's only obstacles were his health and funding. David Kirby tells a different story through Naomi Rose's perspective while working with the Humane Society of the United States. Prior to being released to the ocean, Keiko first had to be rehabilitated and improve his deteriorating health. Like the film depicted, Keiko was moved to a $7 million rehabilitation center that was built specifically for this cause. After being moved, his health improved and he began catching and eating live fish. As everything was pointing towards Keiko being released, the rehabilitation centre in Oregon slowed the process. The centre was making a lot of money off of Keiko and it was getting in the way of the reason he was there to begin with. Its just a sad reminder that everything in this world revolves around money. 

There is so much more that I have read about in these last 20 chapters including details about the numerous incidents that happened  at SeaWorld parks  which involved Killer Whales and their trainers. It really amazes me how hard SeaWorld fights to keep their trainers in the water with these creatures. Again, just goes to show money is more important than the "education" this place is so proud of giving. More importantly… how much more money means to them than not only the life of an orca, but the life of a human is to them. 

Until next time, thanks for reading! Please share your thoughts and opinions with us as you read "Death At SeaWorld" by commenting below, sharing with us on Facebook and on Twitter! 

Posted on August 16, 2013 .

Blackfish Viewers Stand in Support

This weekend Orca United representatives stuck around after the Blackfish screening outside of Tiff gathering feedback from Toronto viewers. We got the opportunity to talk so many new friend about what they thought of the film and to offer information about how they could help. A lot of great people offered their two cents on Gabriela Cowperthwaite's latest documentary along with posing for some pictures uniting against Orca captivity. 

Most people were pretty shocked at the realities of what goes on behind the pleasent facade of places like Marineland. One woman had seen Tilikum in person as a child. She recalled how exciting he was to see for his sheer size alone, after viewing the movie she had said she was shocked at the reality of the situation, that places like Seaworld allow people to view captivity with rose coloured glasses. 

Others, were more straight forward. 

"Can I swear in my review? Yeah? Okay... What the F***! Thats all I can even say" - A

Most people had inklings of what captivity means for Orcas, but were unaware of the extent of pain and sufferings the animals really go through. 

"I'm flabbergasted, I knew Seaworld was bad, but I figured at least the animals were better off in a tank than being killed in the wild. I had no idea that Killer Whales die early in captivity. We're always told the opposite." -J

Blackfish goes into important details of captivity that the average citizens doesn't have the opportunity to know. The film itself offers a service to society. If even one person leaves the theater understanding why and how captivity is detrimental to the health of marine mammals, then Cowperthwaite has succeeded


Some O.U. members providing more information on Orca captivity and how to help out locally. 

Some O.U. members providing more information on Orca captivity and how to help out locally. 

Film watchers who standup against marine mammal captivity. Check out the full album under the 'Photos' section at the main bar.

Film watchers who standup against marine mammal captivity. Check out the full album under the 'Photos' section at the main bar.

Posted on July 24, 2013 .

We want to hear YOUR thoughts!

Our representatives will be standing outside of the Tiff Bell Light Box today after the 6:40 showing (and after the selected listings mentioned) of Blackfish!! Pleas come say hello and give us your thoughts on the show. Take a picture of yourself standing up against marine mammal captivity, record a review, draw a picture or sign up to be a volunteer! 

See you tonight! 

Blackfish review poster.jpg
Posted on July 19, 2013 .

A Review of Death at SeaWorld by Michelle K

Hi there!

My name is Michelle, and I am part of the Orca United team. A couple of us at the organization have been reading "Death At SeaWorld" and we thought it would be a great idea to share our thoughts on the book as we read it! We are hoping some of you are reading it, or want to read it and will share your thoughts with us as well! 


If you have not read David Kirby's "Death At SeaWorld” but are planning too, please be advised that this blog post contains details about the first seven chapters of the book. 

Intro - Part 7

As stated by The Wall Street Journal, "[David] Kirby makes a passionate case…He tells the story like a thriller". 

I just started reading "Death At SeaWorld" this past Sunday and have read up to chapter seven. This book is non-fiction and I felt that to understand the author's perspective and direction, it was necessary to read first the Author's Note, Introduction and Prologue before diving in. 

Before the true beginning of this book, David Kirby explains his attempts to reach out to many industry representatives who support marine mammal captivity as well as representatives of SeaWorld for fact checks but had been denied. The book begins by introducing the reader to Killer Whales, also known by their Latin name, Orca. The book paints a picture of a species that may be more like you or I than we ever thought. It takes you back to 70 BCE, and talks about how our perspective of these creatures have changed and evolved. 

The introduction for me basically reinforced what I believed about Killer Whales already. I have been interested in Orcas since I first saw the movie "Free Willy", somewhere around the age of eight. I did a grade three research project on them and have been fascinated with Killer Whales since. For those who may not know much about Orcas, the introduction is a great way to get aquatinted. It uses great detail to explain their physical appearance as well as their mental capabilities. The novel also goes through some of the common terminology you will find throughout the rest of the book. 

The Prologue jumps into the first fatal incident involving Tilikum; pre-setting the tragic story of Dawn Brancheau. Shortly after, it introduces you to two main characters featured throughout the book. Naomi Rose, and Jeff Ventre. 

The first seven chapters of the book bounce back and forth between Naomi's story and Jeff's story, which is interrupted by chapter three where he goes into depth about the beginning of Tilikum's captive life. 

Thus far, I have found this book to be very interesting, educational and in many parts, suspenseful. I like how it gives you two perspectives: the Marine Biologist; who is studying Killer Whales in the open ocean of British Columbia and the Trainer; who is working with the Killer Whales in captivity. 

I will post a summary/ thoughts blog as I continue reading the book! 

Thank you for reading! 

Michelle K

Campaign Manager at Orca United

If you are reading "Death At SeaWorld", please share your thoughts and opinions as you go along as well! 

Posted on July 18, 2013 .

Interview with Blackfish Maker

In an interesting interview with Blackfish's filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite, taken from ABC News is a detailed almost 'behind the scenes' style report that gives supporters a sneak peak for the upcoming film. 

The images used in this interview are definitely shocking, to see Tililkum floating in a tank barely a few feet larger than himself is heartbreaking. The report goes on to mention that Tilikum has a patriarchal linage to more than half of the captive whale population, which to say the least is... troubling. 

The video also lays down the facts. 
> There are no records of Killer Whale attacks in the wild
> Adult offspring don't leave their mother's side 
> Life spans of Orcas are similar to humans 

At about three minutes in (3:00) the video gives viewers a step by step process of the intricacies involved with Tilikum's capture.  


Click the link below to watch the full report via ABC New's website

Should Killer Whales be Tourist Attractions? 

TIFF Bell Lightbox will host showings of Blackfish from July 19th to the 25th, 2013

Vancouver's VanCity Theater will host showings of Blackfish on August 2nd, 11th, 16th and 17th, 2013


Tilikum with Trainer Dawn Brancheau 

Posted on June 25, 2013 .