Tilikum Still Lethargic During Shamu Shows At SeaWorld Orlando

It has been 17 months since Blackfish first aired, yet Tilikum continues to live an unnatural life in an artificial environment. He and his grandson, Trua, spend almost all of their time together away from the other whales, to prevent aggression caused by dominant females. "Logging" refers to spending extended periods of time at the water's surface, and it is not how the ocean's apex predator should spend its life.

Tilikum and Trua were brought out for the big splash segment at SeaWorld's 11:30 AM "One Ocean" show on December 13. However, halfway through the segment, Tilikum broke off from cue, swam to the left gate of the show pool, and bobbed there, distressfully trying to get closer to the unidentified whale (probably his daughter Malia, son Makaio, or granddaughter Nalani). In the past, Tilikum and Malia have been known to communicate to each other from separate pools. However, the dorsal in this video leans quite significantly, possibly suggesting Nalani. For the remainder of this show, Tilikum waited at the gate, leaving Trua to complete the performance alone.

As the stands emptied, trainers called Tilikum to a tank adjacent to the show pool. He did obey by swimming to the open gate, but he also lingered there a bit before he fully decided to comply and swim through.

From there, Tilikum swam to another gate in the new pool and continued his listless, logging behavior.

In the final clip, Tilikum can be seen lethargically logging in the same position during the 2:30 PM show that he did not partake in. Only his collapsed dorsal fin is visible, and it does not seem to move much.

Of the five of six Shamu shows that day, Tilikum and Trua performed only twice. During the "big splash" segments, Tilikum sort of awoke from his unnatural resting behavior in a smaller back pool and swam to the gate, most likely thinking (or hoping) he was being summoned to perform (not featured in the video).

click to play video

A video guide:

  • 0:23 Tilikum logging in show pool during 11:30 "One Ocean"
  • 5:14 Tilikum resisting the move to a middle pool from show pool after 11:30 "One Ocean"
  • 5:41 Tilikum logging in pool adjacent to show pool after 11:30 "One Ocean"
  • 6:46 Tilikum logging in back pool during 2:30 "One Ocean"