In 2013, documentary "Blackfish" was released. And SeaWorld — or, more specifically, our perceptions of SeaWorld — changed forever.

The film explored the life of Tilikum, an orca (killer whale) living at SeaWorld Orlando that's been involved in three separate human deaths — in 1991, 1999, and 2010. While the knee-jerk reaction may be to cast blame on an unruly, dangerous orca, just the opposite is true: It was Tilikum's years in captivity that resulted in his hostility.

Tilikum, splashing around in captivity, in 2011. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.


Orcas are not naturally aggressive to humans. But living in captivity can significantly reduce an orca's life span, affect its health, and inflict a great deal of stress, which likely contributed to Tilikum's aggressive outbursts, animal rights activists have argued.

For the record, SeaWorld has maintained that "Blackfish" "paints a distorted picture" of orcas in its care and argued that many key facts about its parks' conservation and rehabilitation efforts were left out of the film. But the facts spoke for themselves — and people weren't pleased.

In the months following the release of "Blackfish," SeaWorld's profits dropped a whopping 84%.

Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images.

The company cited “continued brand challenges” as the reason for its major dip in park attendance, The Guardian reported. (That's code for "the truth about our orca program is reaching far and wide.")

Fortunately, out of the goodness of its heart (and its plummeting sales), SeaWorld has been changing its ways.

For the first time, a new SeaWorld park is opening without any killer whales in it. Instead, the park will rely on other innovative attractions to bring in visitors.

The park, set to open its doors in Abu Dhabi in 2022, will have a marine life research and rehabilitation center (a first in the United Arab Emirates) — but no orca breeding program or controversial killer whale shows, CNN reported.

Although specifics have yet to be announced, the park will focus on different (less harmful) thrills for guests.

It's not the first bit of good news out of SeaWorld for animal activists this year. In March 2016, the company announced it's phasing out its orca breeding programs and killer whale shows for good (although many of its orcas are young, so they will still be kept in captivity for years to come).

The new orca-free SeaWorld is a great reminder that we especially need right now: to use your voice (and wallet) to make a difference.

A controversial new president-elect is sending shock waves around the globe. War-torn Syria is grappling with unconscionable human tragedy. Native Americans have to protest Big Oil in historic numbers in order for the world to pay even the slightest bit of attention. These problems seem too big to fathom for many of us.

"Blackfish" persuading people to spend their vacation dollars somewhere other than SeaWorld these past few years proves that one thing is always true: Real change is possible.

Funds have poured into causes most at-risk during a Trump presidency. Rallies around the world are demanding we don't look away from the atrocities in Aleppo. And, just this month, the Standing Rock Sioux won a resounding victory in stopping a destructive pipeline from ruining its sacred lands (although the work there is far from over).

It's a good lesson to remember in 2017: Stepping up and speaking out does make an impact.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less

We're dancing along too.

Art can be a powerful unifier. With just the right lyric, image or word, great art can soften those hard lines that divide us, helping us to remember the immense value of human connection and compassion.

This is certainly the case with “Pasoori,” a Pakistani pop song that has not only become an international hit, it’s managed to bring the long divided peoples of India and Pakistan together in the name of love. Or at least in the name of good music.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less