Everyone has that one memory that sticks out like a sore thumb. Mine is a time when my Nana took me to go see Crossroads – you know, the classic Britney Spears movie. I was 12 years old, and I felt really cool being able to go see a PG-13 rated movie! No, this isn’t the important part of the story, though that was one helluva movie for pre-teen Bianca. I remember this day because when we arrived back home, my Mom informed me that there was a beached blue whale at Narragansett beach. Granted, a beached whale is not the best way to see a whale with your own eyes for the first time, but I was determined to get there. Seeing that magnificent creature before my eyes was exhilarating. So, you can imagine my excitement when Blackfish was being promoted.
Where did this fascination stem from? Free Willy, of course. I ran that VHS to the ground! Free Willy this, and Free Willy that. Before there was Free Tilly, there was Free Willy. I had everything from the Free Willy necklace to an orca-themed bedroom. Stuffed animals, pillows, books… you name it, I had it. Whales, particularly orcas, were my undoubtedly my favorite animal of all time.
The second Blackfish was released in Boston, I was there. I hyped it up to Joe, who is a saint for listening to my ongoing vents and ramblings about orcas in captivity, and we went to see it together. I was so so happy to share this experience with him – someone with no background/knowledge of what was really going on.
A year after Blackfish, changes are happening. There is movement, there is hope. SeaWorld attendance and revenue continues to drop, and just last week it was announced that SeaWorld trainers will no longer be getting into the water to perform with orcas – and SeaWorld is not going to appeal it. You may have also heard that SeaWorld is planning on expanding the tanks. While this may sound like a great initiative, it really isn’t doing anything. Orcas don’t need bigger tanks; they need to be released. They need freedom. “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite knows exactly what I mean. She was quoted, “None of this would change in a bigger pool. What people are upset about is that whales are not suitable to captivity.” I’ve also read a great article recently, titled 7 Reasons SeaWorld’s Bigger Orca Tanks Projects is a Joke. I encourage you to read it, as it is not only informative, but humorous and amusing!
But there is change. Change is good… a decline in numbers is good… and best of all, awareness is growing. If you are as compassionate as I am about these beautiful beings, please support however you can. Just this weekend at SoWa Sundays, I purchased this awesome shirt from local print shop Cinder + Salt (organic & charity tee – $5 of this design benefits Cetacean Society Intl.!)
There are great accounts on Twitter to follow, too. Take a look at some of my favorites:
Now that you have heard my whale rant, spread the word! Captivity kills, and there has already been enough casualties – both orca and human. xx Bianca