The following blog series is a point-by-point rebuttal to SeaWorld, following SeaWorld's critical reaction to the controversial 2013 documentary, "Blackfish." Each blog entry will present an argument made by SeaWorld and a rebuttal by Barry MacKay, senior program associate, Born Free USA.
The claim that captive orcas benefit wild ones:
SeaWorld has claimed that captive orcas somehow benefit the species in the wild. Since captive orcas at SeaWorld and wild orcas have no contact with each other, clearly captive animals cannot directly benefit wild ones. So, what is meant by SeaWorld's claim is that scientists can access captive living orcas up close much more easily than they can access wild ones, and can more easily observe certain traits and behaviors.
It is worth noting, in that context, something that SeaWorld fails to mention, even though it is a core message of the film, Blackfish (that they seek to discredit): captive orcas (and other wildlife) often display behavior not seen in the wild. For example, as Blackfish accurately documents, captive orcas sometimes kill humans. Wild orcas have been known to briefly go after humans in wetsuits (the most often-seen theory is that the humans are mistaken for seals or sea lions, which can be natural prey species), but there is no record of them actually killing a human, and they have never been seen to hold a human under water long enough to drown, or cause massive trauma to a human. But, captive orcas have done all of these things.