Blackfish Psychology

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In the documentary Blackfish, two women recount the story of a Sealand trainer, Keltie Byrne, falling into a pool of orcas and ultimately paying the cost of her own life. These women and an entire crowd of people watched in horror as Tilikum, one of the orcas, pulled her to the bottom of the pool and all three of the orcas took turns tossing her around until she drowned. Since then, orcas have been viewed as dangerous and lethal. However, this is just not the case. These majestic animals are gentle and at times playful in their natural habitat. There have been reports of people swimming in the ocean with them and interacting with them as they come up to boats. While the orcas flourish in their natural habitat, captivity has changed them for…show more content…
These orcas are ripped away from their families and brought into an unnatural environment which could be quite stressful. Orcas are highly sociable and emotional animals as a result of “a part of an orca whale’s brain extend[ing] outward adjacent to their limbic system into what neuroscientists call a para­limbic cleft, which processes emotions” (Wise). These are animals that are commonly known as friendly and social, but in captivity, they “exhibit such disturbed behavior as chewing the sides of their tank or swimming in exactly the same pattern for hour after hour” due to anxiety and depression (Visser). These actions that they present are the equivalent to compulsive behaviors in humans with psychological issues such as locking and unlocking doors, obsessively washing hands, or repeating a specific task multiple times a day. Keeping orcas in an obviously psychologically stress­inducing environment has no true…show more content…
These whales are friendly in the wild and it’s been reported of them saving humans and interacting with them, as “to this day, there is no record of an orca doing any harm to any humans in the wild” (Wise). Orcas actions could not be more different in captivity. In all, violence has become a common yet horrific scene in aquatic parks. The real horror is between these captured creatures. Orcas with different backgrounds and dialects are placed together without much thought about how this could affect them. A killer whale named Tilikum was placed in Sealand and he was expected to perform tricks that he had never done, and if he performed them incorrectly all of the whales were withheld food. “This annoyed the others, so they would rake him with their teeth, causing him to bleed” (Lewis). In the wild, when a dominant orca begins showing aggression the other orca has thousands of miles to swim away and flee the scene. However, these animals are in pools where they do not have that option. Living in these tanks are essentially giving killer whales the image of being monsters.
Conversely, orcas in captivity cannot be released into the wild due to being in a dependent environment and never having the opportunity to do virtually anything themselves. Keiko, the whale from the movie “Free Willie”, was released into the wild after his freedom was protested. “Despite efforts

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