Here Are Just 3 Of The *Smaller* Lies SeaWorld Makes Its Employees Tell Its Guests

I remember vacationing at SeaWorld as a kid, but after hearing about all the ways SeaWorld lies to its staff and to its guests while knowingly putting both people and whales in danger every single day ... I'm never going back again, unless I've got a picket sign and a protest group with me.

Lie #1: Orcas live longer at SeaWorld.

The Truth: Orcas live longer in the wild.

In fact, the oldest recorded orca whale is over 103 years old.

Lie #2: Dorsal fin collapse isn't uncommon in the wild.

The Truth: Actually, it's pretty rare.

Lie #3: The Orcas are with their family at SeaWorld

The Truth: SeaWorld has redefined what "family" means.

Seriously, y'all, the part of the documentary where you see the mother orca crying for days
because they took her calf away to one of the other parks made me cry like a baby.

Just three of the smaller lies SeaWorld instructs its employees to tell guests about the whales:

You'll hear about the really big lies when you watch the whole documentary, and they truly will scoop your heart out and feed it to you in the worst/best way possible.

Watch the trailer:

Probably one of the most damning facts from the whole documentary is mentioned at 2:09.

If you're still skeptical after everything you've seen here, let me point you toward this Wikipedia page about killer whale attacks on humans in the wild versus captivity as well as this fact sheet "Blackfish" released in response to SeaWorld's attempt to discredit the documentary, and this explanation for how SeaWorld twists the existing data to support its own narrative. And let me remind you that most of the people interviewed in the documentary are former SeaWorld employees and trainers recounting their own experiences — not, as some people have scoffed at me, "animal activists just looking for a scandal."

Show Transcript Hide Transcript

First clip:

Because the whales in their pools die young, they like to say that all orcas die at 25 or 30 years.

25 to 35 years.

25 to 35 years.

They are documented in the wild living to be about 35, mid-thirties. They tend to live a lot longer in this environment because they have all the veterinary care.

And of course that's false. We knew by 1980 after half a dozen years of the research that they live equivalent to human lifespans. And every other potentially embarrassing fact is twisted and turned and denied one way or another.

So in the wild, they live? Less.

Like the floppy dorsal fins.

Twenty-five percent of whales have a fin that turns over like that as they get older.

Dorsal collapse happens in less than one percent of wild killer whales. We know this. All the captive males — 100 percent — have collapsed dorsal fins.

And they say that they're a family, that the whales are in their family. They have their pods. But that's just an artificial assemblage of their collection however management decides they should mix them. Whichever ones happen to be born or bought and brought in. That not a family, you know. I mean, come on.


When you look into their eyes, you know somebody is home.

They're an animal that possesses great spiritual power, not to be meddled with.

Orange County Sheriff’s office.

We need a [?] to respond for a dead person at SeaWorld. A whale has eaten one of the trainers.

Tilikum was the one that went after her.

And Dawn is the Senior Trainer here at Shamu Stadium.

She captured what it means to be a SeaWorld trainer. That it made me realize that what happened to her, really could have happened to anyone.

I’ve been expecting somebody to be killed by Tilikum.

We weren’t told much about it, other than it was trainer error.

It didn’t just happen. It’s not a singular event. You have to go back to understand this.

The speed boats herded them in and they could just pick out the young ones.

This is the worst thing that I’ve ever done.

When Tilikum arrived at SeaWorld, he was twice as large as the next animal.

We store these whales, in what they call a module, which was 20 feet across and 30 feet deep, and the lights were all turned out.

Probably led to, what I think is a psychosis.

All whales in captivity are all psychologically traumatized, it’s not just Tilikum.

If you were in a bath tub for 25 years. Don’t you think you’d get a little psychotic?

Dawn would tell you that it was her mistake.

They blamed her.

It’s just a bold-faced life.

I was just instructed to get rid of the tape.

The industry has a vested interest in spinning these. That sells a lot of Shamu dolls; it sells a lot of tickets at the gate.

There is no record of an orca doing any harm in the wild.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

The clip and trailer are for "Blackfish," a cheery and upbeat documentary about how SeaWorld sucks a giant bag of [redacted] and killer whales shouldn’t be kept in captivity. It’s on Netflix/Amazon/VOD/DVD, it was totally snubbed for an Oscar nomination, and you should watch it if you get a chance. If you still need more facts, click here (pdf) and here. For information on how SeaWorld captured their star orca, click here.

Jan 18, 2014

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