About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

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This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blackfish / White Lies? (An Epilogue): Responding To Your Comments


I lied.  I said my last post was my last foray into Blackfish.  But, I have been inundated with so many emails and comments that I thought I should write one last piece to address some of these points raised either publicly or privately.  First, let me say how grateful I am for most of the comments, even those that clearly think that I have missed the point of Blackfish (and, not surprisingly, there are quite a few of you out there).  The point of this blog is to generate discussion and debate and to provide information and opinion about the amusement industry to those that are interested, and those goals seem to have been achieved in this series.  But, having read hundreds of emails, comments, tweets, and Facebook posts about these pieces, I have seen some common themes emerging that deserve to be addressed - I just don't have time to address them individually.  So I thought it made more sense to post one last piece.  I wouldn't, after all, want anyone to think I was ignoring them.

1.  "Can't help but think that writing off people involved in the documentary as activists therefor biased in some way is more than a little hypocritical when written by an attorney whose 'particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry.'  Pot calling the Kettle Black - fish?" 

This comment was left recently on Part 2 of this series and, while reflective of many other comments and emails I've received, I quote it out of admiration for the corny but creative final line.  Well done.

The issue of my bias has come up a lot.  And while obviously bias is a real concern in assessing the credibility of any communication, I think the point I was trying to make about bias in Blackfish has been missed by many.  That's probably my fault for not being as clear as I would have liked to have been.  So let me make a few points on this issue.

First, the point of my first piece in this series, which dealt exclusively with individuals involved in Blackfish and their potential, but undisclosed, biases,  is that the audience is being asked to blindly accept everything in this film without knowing anything about the sources providing information.  Many have done just that.  My point in highlighting the potential biases of the ex-trainers and scientists featured in Blackfish was not to "write them off" or to argue that they must be lying - in fact, I said exactly the opposite - but to provide information to the viewer / reader that is obviously relevant to assessing the credibility of these speakers and the film as a whole.  By choosing not to provide any information about the background of these individuals, and then characterizing the film as "not advocating for anything," Blackfish's director suggests to the audience that these sources are all that is necessary to get the complete story; that they are objective, unbiased, and simply telling a "fact driven narrative."  The audience of Blackfish deserved to know more if this film truly was a work that erred on the side of the journalistic approach, as its director claims.

Second, with respect to my potential biases, I have never hidden them from anyone.  Anyone reading any of my work can see, based on my bio prominently featured on the top of every page of this blog, that I am might be biased in favor of the industry, and, just as I encourage viewers of Blackfish to consider the biases inherent in the film, it would expect readers to take into account my background and potential biases as well.  The difference is that, unlike Blackfish, I have not hidden anything from the people reading my work.  You have the tools at your disposal to take into account my background and assess my credibility.  The same cannot be said about the people featured in Blackfish

Third, it is precisely because I know that I may be reasonably accused of bias that I take great care in my writing to back up what I say.  When I am expressing an opinion, I say so, and anyone is, of course, free to disagree.  But when I am expressing conclusion based on a fact, I back it up with a hyperlink to the source material.  As an attorney, I deal in proof.  I can't go into a court of law and make an argument based on what I think or what I believe.  Worse, I can't go into a court of law and mislead a judge with "spin" on facts that don't mean what I say they do.  I have to be able to point a judge to something that actually supports what I am saying.  I do the same thing here.  If you think I am spinning a fact or being dishonest about something, I encourage you to check the source material I've linked to and see for yourself.  If there is anything I've written that is unsupported by the source material, I will correct it.  But so far, while I've been accused of bias repeatedly, no one has pointed to a single factual assertion I've made in any of my work that I have reported incorrectly.  That's not to say that people can't disagree with the source material I use, but I will point out that the great majority of the facts that I have reported in these pieces came directly from the mouths of the people featured in Blackfish or the film-makers themselves.  True, I have also linked to some facts given by SeaWorld (specifically, in Part 3, concerning the age of their killer whales), but, as I said in that piece, I have found no indication from anyone that SeaWorld is lying about how old their whales are.         

Fourth, and this is, I believe, a critically important question to consider:  If you believe that what I say cannot be trusted based solely on the bias you perceive me to have, doesn't that just prove the point I've been trying to make?  Assuming that you don't know me or anyone in Blackfish personally (which would obviously make a difference to an assessment of credibility), isn't encouraging skepticism of my writing due to my industry involvement an implicit recognition that bias must be considered when assessing a person's credibility?  If you take my perceived biases into account and decide not to believe what I write (which is your absolute right to do), then isn't it hypocritical to take others to task for taking Dr. Lori Marino's, or Samantha Berg's  or Howard Garrett's biases into account also and deciding not to believe some or all of what they say in Blackfish?

2.   On a related note, why should we believe you?  You make your living from the amusement park industry and are only interested in making sure that it doesn't tank (no pun intended) and would say anything to support it.

This one also gets to bias, but it injects something else that I thought should be addressed.  Character.  It is categorically not true that I will say anything to support the amusement industry.  In fact, I've written pieces on this blog that have been critical of what I view as dangerous practices in the amusement industry.  Look for the ADA piece about the death at Darien Lake or a piece I wrote about a disabled little girl who may have been mistreated at Dorney Park a couple of years ago if you don't believe me.

Good lawyers (and I consider myself a good lawyer) don't just tell their clients what they want to hear.  They tell them what they need to hear and they do what is in their clients best interests.  Sometimes that means saying or doing something that the client doesn't like in the moment because it is the right thing to say or do long term.  For example, I have stopped depositions and forced clients to correct misstatements, I have told clients that I would not pursue particular arguments that were unsupported by the facts or the law, and I've said a lot of things at conferences and trade shows that are not exactly the "company line" of the industry.  When I say something, it is because I believe it.  Not because I think it is what the industry wants to hear.

Additionally, and this may come as a surprise to some of you, it is not at all the case that everyone in the amusement industry is a SeaWorld supporter.  I personally know several people, some of whom are very high up in their organizations and all of whom have a stronger personal and professional relationship with me than does anyone at SeaWorld, who, after seeing Blackfish, went on record that they will never go back to a SeaWorld park so long as they continue to keep orcas.  If I was concerned only with making the amusement park people happy, I wouldn't have written a word about this film in the first place - it's just too polarizing if the exclusive concern is client relations. But I believe strongly in my criticism of this film and, more importantly, its director's characterization of it, so I felt compelled to speak out.   

Now, one other thing on this point.  The money motive.  It has been thrown at me repeatedly as it has been at SeaWorld.  I have been accused of putting money (i.e. legal fees) over "the truth." Blackfish accuses SeaWorld of putting profits above its whale's welfare and the safety of its trainers.  And those are valid questions.  But as with the bias issue I raised above, anyone that accuses SeaWorld (or me) of having a profit motive to lie or spin the truth must also recognize that many animal rights activists, including some featured in Blackfish, likely have a stronger motive to lie or spin the truth - a motive driven by their deeply held beliefs and values. 

Think of it this way:  SeaWorld (or any company, for that matter) would almost certainly accept some sum of money to go out of business entirely.  It might take a lot, but there is some amount of money that one could pay to SeaWorld to go out of business - to, in effect, sell the company and walk away entirely. But is there any amount of money that one could pay to Lori Marino or PETA or the ex-trainers in Blackfish that would cause them to stop advocating for killer whales?  Is there any sum of money that someone could pay to these dedicated activists to get them to walk away from the cause entirely?  I seriously doubt it.  Unlike a corporation which, given the right amount, can be bought and sold, principles and values are not for sale.  Thus, if SeaWorld (or I) can be accused of saying anything in the interest of money, shouldn't we also consider whether the activists featured in Blackfish might have an even stronger motive to say anything to protect their deeply rooted beliefs that captivity is fundamentally wrong? 

3.  This is a law blog, not a film review site.  How exactly are you qualified to write about this film when it doesn't involve a legal issue?

Fair point.  But I think there are two things that qualify me to write what I have.  First, I'm pretty familiar with the governing standards for professional journalists.  In addition to the practice that you all know about (i.e. the amusement industry), I have also done a good amount of representation of local media and reporters in defamation cases.  I've spent a lot of time talking to journalists and judges about what the media does and how they do it.

 Second, critiquing a documentary advocating for a particular position is very much like the work I do in court all the time.  The things I've written here are really nothing more than basic cross examination of witnesses and argument to the jury about the facts of any particular case.  And I'm quite qualified to do that.

4.  OK fine ... Blackfish is not even-handed.  Big Deal.  Who says a documentary has to be even-handed?

Obviously, there is no rule saying that documentaries have to be even-handed.  And there are plenty of great ones that aren't.  But they don't all pretend to be either.  The point of this series was not that this should have been more even handed.  If the film and filmmakers were up front with the audience that Blackfish was an animal rights advocacy piece, I probably would never have started typing.  No, the point of this series was that Gabriela Cowperthwaite was trying to sell Blackfish to the public as even handed, fact driven journalism when I do not believe it was.

5.  Do you REALLY not get the message of Blackfish?  Why is the message of compassion so hard to understand?

Other than, "SeaWorld is evil," I really can't put my finger on a coherent message in Blackfish.  I don't think the message is one of compassion.  The film spend so much time vilifying SeaWorld, as opposed to focusing on the problems associated with captivity more globally, that I truly think the point of the film was to put SeaWorld out of business - nothing more.

If the film was about compassion and the mistreatment of orcas, featuring SeaWorld and (for all intents and purposes, only SeaWorld) was not the way to do it.  Imagine if the film had focused on those facilities that keep orcas in pools a quarter the size of SeaWorld's, or that have a documented history of mistreatement of cetaceans, or that don't have the track record for animal care and rescue that SeaWorld has.  Couple that with the parts of Blackfish that deal with the biology and sociology of whales themselves, and that has the makings of a film about compassion.

But this film just makes its audience hate SeaWorld because, in addition to the orca welfare issues discussed, it allegedly endangers trainers, purportedly covered up the death of a trespasser who got into a killer whale's pool, and apparently lies under oath in a court of law.  Yes, there are certainly some parts of Blackfish that evoke a compassionate response, but I really do not think that this film is about instilling compassion for whales.  I think it's about making people hate SeaWorld (and it does that well).  

6.  A final note ... to those people who have accused me of supporting "baby murder," who have written for no other purpose than to insult me, call me obscene names, and make disparaging remarks about my wife and family ...

I strive to treat people with the respect and dignity deserving of anyone, regardless of political or social beliefs.  I have never written anything in a comment or on this blog that is anything other than dignified and respectful.  You may not like the position I have taken or the questions I've raised, but I do not believe I can fairly be accused of being anything other than professional throughout. 

If you are of the belief that you can bully me or others with borderline threatening rhetoric or profane name calling, you are absolutely wrong.  If you want to make a difference and represent your cause well, if you want people to actually hear your position, this is not the way to do it and it's a disgrace.

I respect those of you, some of whom appeared in Blackfish, who have written to me with intelligent comment, and have expressed your views rationally and reasonably.  While some of you may not believe it, I really do value hearing other sides of the issue and I give them a lot of thought.  The issue of captivity is not one that has easy answers and if answers are to be found, it will be through thoughtful debate and consideration, not through insults, anger, hate and threats.

And that's really it.  No more on Blackfish - really, I mean it this time.  Thanks again for reading and being part of the discussion.



  1. Well some of the comments you have addressed so I will leave them where they lie. However, I still believe you have missed the point of Blackfish - and a point that has been triumphant in its execution. The point that I, as an intelligent human being took away was that the capturing, confinement and treatment of all mammals for profit and amusement is now no longer acceptable. In the past, the population may have needed this sort of interaction to learn about creatures like the orca. Now we don't need this, there are copious numbers of books, dvds, documentaries, lectures etc that can tell us how wild animals live, behave, breed and interact. I would say that Blackfish has woken up the sleeping masses, myself included, and made it impossible to visit these parks with a clear conscience. That, Mr Beard, was the point of Blackfish. It was to bring this madness to the masses and end the impoundment of sentient creatures wholly unsuited to life in captivity.
    One other comment I would make is that I fail to see why the debate of advocacy vs journalism is even relevant except if you make the assumption that the audience is too stupid to strip out facts, do extra research, make judgements and conclude on their own without being told to be aware. Most of the people I have spoken to automatically do this sort of filtering so we don't need to be told either by Ms Cowperthwaite or you to exercise caution in judgement.

    1. Perfectly stated. I think you said what a lot of us were thinking whilst reading this blog.

      Some people just cannot stop justifying the confinement of wild animals and - whether it's wilful ignorance or just missing the point - they cannot seem to grasp the real message.

  2. There's the big inconsistency though... if you're really about the welfare of the orcas' plight, then the focus should be on the captive breeding, not (what is the takeaway from 99% of the uninformed blackfish population, as evidenced by social media) "free tilly". As scientific evidence shows, that would be to the death of these "lifers".

    Whether or not they believe in showcasing orcas to the public, most agencies will tell you that SeaWorld's efforts & capabilities for the captive orca are the best on the planet. Therefore, this is the best of a bad situation, if that is your starting point. The activism should be against captive breeding. Let the captive population live our their lives, but allow that process to fade. Thus, no orca has to die for the idiocy of the uneducated public screaming "drain the tanks"; and no further orcas will be bred into a captivity that perpetuates the cycle.

    Had journalism done its duty, it would have proffered the cause, not the effect (nevermind the documented cases of withholding the contrarian points of any interviewees, or take a critical eye to fired ex-employees). Instead, it relied on the emotional response of the advocacy route. Again, all you need to do is look at the #blackfish hashtag to see that "the audience is [often] too stupid to strip out facts, do extra research...". A cry to "drain the tanks" far exceeds any rational discourse on the underlying problem; the masses have been focused on the effect, by a brilliant propaganda job.

    1. If I actually understood what you were saying I would be able to comment fully on your post, instead I will try to understand your argument.

      Those of us supporting Blackfish are against all confinement of orcas, captive bred or wild caught. There is no inconsistency. By showing that the public no longer accept this form of entertainment and do not condone the confinement of any orca/dolphin etc we send clear messages to the marine parks that they have to rethink their strategy. For every dolphin captured from the wild hundreds/thousands die unnecessarily. For every orca captured family pods are ripped apart. There is absolutely no marine park that is able to provide suitable and appropriate conditions for these animals, none, not even SeaWorld. Therefore, that should be the bottom line, the base argument, the foundation of future thinking.

      You patronise the activists and general public - they are not crying out to drain the tanks, people that support the premise behind Blackfish are aware you just can't turn these creatures out and wave them goodbye - we understand that the process will take time to rehabilitate the animals and some will never make it back. But like the Free Tilly campaign, at least a half way solution is better than no solution and the fact that if a line is drawn now, no future dolphin/orca etc need be captured or killed for such worthless causes as human entertainment and corporate profit. This is the consistent thinking behind all supporters of the Blackfish camp - stop recruiting new performers, stop the breeding, stop using the animals in this fashion and start figuring out how to return them to the wild or how to accommodate their final years respectfully.

      Personally I don't care whether the film was propaganda or not, the time has come for decent humans to make a stand and say it is enough, I do not agree with this, I will not support an organisation who continues to behave like this. I don't give a damn whether the film was biased, broke journalistic rules, even in some cases lied - I still have made the connection between unnecessary suffering and the organisations that cause it and my ability to boycott and campaign against it. We know better now, let's fix the future, but stop the present activities.

  3. "I don't give a damn whether the film was biased, broke journalistic rules, even in some cases lied" - I am intellectually bothered by this comment as I have recently seen similar comments posted in response to the growing criticism of the film on this and other sites I read. I can understand how someone who favors the anti-captivity viewpoint could overlook a biased film that breaks journalistic rules. I get that in the same way that I get that those who lean far-right can overlook these same things in Fox News reporting and those who lean far-left can overlook those things in MSNBC reporting. What I don't understand, though, is why it would ever be alright to just lie in documentary film and, more to the point, why it is OK to overlook lying simply because one agrees with the overall position of the filmmaker? If the point of any piece of advocacy is to persuade people to take up the flag and fight for the cause, isn't there a significant risk that any support gained will be undermined if the newly-convinced discover they were lied to? Sure, I suppose that there are some, like yourself, that will be willing to look past that fact, but a lot of people won't. I don't think it is a stretch to assume that many would leave the cause if they discover they were lied to. In fact, isn't that exactly what Blackfish is trying to do: convince millions of people that SeaWorld has lied to them for years so that those people turn against it? If that is at least one of the points Blackfish is making (and judging by many of my commenters on this blog, I think it is a message that has been received - whether or not intended) why should the filmmakers of Blackfish get a pass for the same conduct that they accuse SeaWorld of?

    Please understand that I respect your opinion, and in fact, I think you raise some good points, particularly in recognizing that "a half way solution is better than no solution." (a position that many of my commenters would disagree with I believe). I think that is a reasonable way to approach the issue and one that allows for reasonable discussion. But I am curious as to the willingness to overlook intellectually dishonesty "for the greater good" particularly since many (and I don't know if you fall into this category or not) have been dismissive of anything SeaWorld has said on this topic on the grounds that it is lying. How can we condone one side's lies while simultaneously condemning the others (assuming, for the sake of argument, that SeaWorld is lying)? If it is OK to lie to Blackfish supporters to gain their support, why is not also OK for SeaWorld to lie to gain supporters for its view.

    Personally, I don't think its OK for anyone to lie. I think the public deserves better than that. I think that swaying public opinion about an issue - otherwise meritorious or not - by lying to drum up interest is a recipe for backlash and will, in the long term, be detrimental to the cause.

    Thank you for commenting and participating in the discussion.

    1. Mr Beard, you are completely right about the lying, on both sides, it diminishes the argument to resort to false statements. However by saying that I don't care about the lies because the underlying argument for me is that the whole principle of captive breeding, displaying and performing is wrong - there isn't any other way to look at it - in my passionate opinion.

      The reason Blackfish is phenomenally successful is that it has spoken to the conscience of its supporters and converts - I bet you pound to a penny more than half will have seen beyond the fug of propaganda and dismissed that anyway in the light of the glaringly obvious, it is wrong, and we should change our attitudes and our beliefs accordingly.

      We are frequently shown how things we take for granted affect a wider circle of society and the thinking population process the argument and accept/abide with the new norm, and so civilisation develops and moves on. I know that slavery is often cited alongside the Blackfish argument and for good reason, we now simply and without question accept that subjugating another human being is unacceptable - I think the majority of Blackfish supporters just fundamentally feel the same way about the confinement of cetacean.

      What I would ask is whether the entire message of Blackfish was lost to you simply because it failed to meet the journalistic standards you illustrate? Are you judging the cause because the messenger delivered it in a less than perfect manner? Is the anti-Blackfish camp doing the same? Are those that profess to love sea mammals and watching them perform simply ignoring the issue because Ms Cowperthwaite broke some rules?

      Incidentally I value this discussion very much - it is a pleasure to trade views and I compliment you on raising the issues - some I may not have noted before (but still they don't alter my perspective!) and I nod to your argument. Thank you.

  4. Read all of your articles and I thoroughly enjoyed your research. It was so refreshing to read someone's opinion that was so well thought out. I never really felt like what you wrote was biased because you did take the time to back up your opinion with research and encouraged people to check it out and make an informed decision. It was so brilliantly written and so often people do not give encourage others to think for themselves on any issue. Also I was so upset when I read #6 your final note, I hate when people write such negative reviews filled with hate. I guess I just wanted to take the time and thank you for your research and your time for writing this! Sorry for all the crazy people out there that think it is perfectly acceptable to write threatening comments. I will definitely read more of your articles because I enjoyed this so much.

    1. By "read all of your articles", I meant all of your articles on Blackfish.

    2. Thank you Chelsea. I appreciate the time you took to comment and the kind words.

    3. He clearly states his bias right away. He is a lawyer for businesses like Seaworld. To even write the article in my opinion is biased. I understand he is explaining there is another side to the story, but I also think he clearly states he is biased without saying it, so maybe not clearly. Vaguely! He does have a bias though.

  5. Thanks for all the well-reasoned commentary. I don't agree with you in general, but I'm curious about one statement. You say " I think it's about making people hate SeaWorld (and it does that well)". I'm curious as to why you think that, since you also state several times that you can't see any discernible message from the film. Also, do you have any evidence to suggest that the film's director, producers, or other participants are part of some evil scheme to destroy SeaWorld? While I certainly take everything I see in any documentary with a grain of salt, I find it hard to believe there would be any particular hate campaign against SeaWorld being propagated through this film. Thanks again...

  6. People are getting so upset about SeaWorld and their treatment of their orcas. If you want to get upset about something then do something about the grind in the Faroe Islands. Hundreds of Pilot whales are killed every year. Its tradition. The number of whales killed every year is more than currently in captivity. Of course if you want to just ride the bandwagon and attack SeaWorld go ahead If you want to do something to help whales stop the Grind. Go for the Japanese whalers that go out in the name of research and kill innocent whales.

    1. You're being an ass and assuming no one is doing anything, which is...idk what to call it. I've done what I can do. There are petitions to their government out there. You shouldn't be so ignorant with your assumptions...


  7. So I've spent half the day research both sides of this subject. I watch the movie and read all of your articles on "Blackfish". I even spent several hours reading through most of these comments. After all that time spent I feel that if I left here without giving my opinion my time would be wasted. I can tell you that I will not be joining any protests on this issue, but I also will not be contributing any of my hard earned money to Seaworld, or any other amusement park. (1) I honestly believe that Seaworld takes good care of all it's animal/mammals. But I would like to see them build larger homes for them. It's obvious they can not be returned to the wild, but seeing as this is a billion dollar industry I don't understand why they can't build them a sanctuary where they can live in there natural environment. (2) I do not believe that any of there trainers should be in the water risking there lives. I know that it's very entertaining to watch, but it isnt safe, and we are not adding to any scientific research by doing so. (3) I also believe that if a mother and calf where seperated (like Blackfish claimed) they should be reunited with one another. I feel that knowing what we know about the species, they would have known better. Would it be okay if I shipped one of there child off at the age of 4 to some other county without there permission? (5) I feel that the fact that Seaworld is appealing the ruling for barriers between trainer and Orca shows little concern for there staff. I understand that they have performed these tricks plenty for times without incidents but why risk it? For the entertainment factor? I just don't think it's worth it. Finally I want to thank you and everyone else for helping me come to these opinions. I'd like to say that I don't expect others to follow me when it comes to me choosing not to go to places that hold animals captive in cages. I'm by no means saying that any of these places are bad, that any of these places mistreat there animals, but I think as a species we should start considering what's good for the animals and not just what gives us pleasure.

  8. My issue with this, other than what has already been said (your own bias, working for the entertainment industry etc) is that a lot of us do not NEED an objective side. Watch any documentary on whales and dolphins, and you will know they do not belong in our swimming pools. They aren't pets, they aren't toys and they definitely should not be a paycheck. I honestly don't care what any zoo or entertainment park has to say; these animals do not belong in our pools. They should be free, born free, and they should live free.
    The people in the film were not activists when they worked there (I don't think), it is partly FROM working there that they became activists, so to try and discredit them for their biases is kind of lame. That is just my 2 cents, now I am broke!

  9. Funny to read all the animal wrongists,s rantings here. Orcas are apex predators who will chase a grey whale mother and calf for miles until exhausted, then kill the calf just to eat its tongue. The only reason they don.t threaten humans is because we are not their preferred meal type. Life is not a bullshit Disney movie. There is nothing wrong with orcas being domesticated by man, or being used for profit or entertainment or even for food if they taste good enough. They are not an endangered species. Save the seals and grey whale mothers from grief. Keep orcas in captivity.

  10. I'm researching the 'implications of Seaworlds treatment of their marine mammals and to what extent it is immoral' for a project at school. I find your review of Backfish very interesting and useful for my research. I have used Blackfish extensively as a source for my project and your comments on the bias of the documentary has been of particular interest to me. As it is a topic of moral arguments and therefore each source holds its own bias and opinions, I was wondering if you knew of any purely factual resources that could assist my research?
    I also wondered what your opinion was on the implications of Blackfish; the recent decision by Seaworld to expand its Orca exhibits, the many artists that have canceled performances there such as Willie Nelson and the effect on Seaworlds quaterly earnings? Do you see these as positive implications with respect to the morality of marine mammals in captivity? Or simply uninformed prejudice? I appreciate you are very busy but any thoughts and opinions would be very helpful.
    Thank you,
    Hannah Lawrence

    1. Hi Hannah,

      Why don't you drop me a line directly, and I will be happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability. My email address is ebeard@wiggin.com.


      Erik Beard

  11. Thanks for your writings. I only recently saw black fish and did feel like it was a very emotionally effective movie. I feel like my gut reaction from the movie was so different than others'- that a thousands of pounds animal can never be considered tame and safe for safe human contact. I could support a ceasing of wild orca capture or breeding, but release seems actually inhumane. But my main feeling was just that I had been so misled as a child regarding the safety of working with orcas and that it is just too big a risk for anyone to permit an employee, a child, or any person to undertake. Thanks again for your pieces, as a blogger myself I know it's a huge time commitment with limited return.

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