A few years back, off the coast of Maine, I was fortunate enough to see a pod of Pilot whales (Globicephala). These are toothed cetaceans that like the Killer whale (Orca) are actually members of the dolphin family. Orca and Globicephala are not true whales. I was impressed nonetheless seeing these streamlined Pilot whales cut through the cold Atlantic water foraging for fish or squid. Seeing the smaller Pilot whales, I can’t imagine the exhilaration people must garner from encounters with Orca. With their Panda-like black and white markings, a form of disruptive or cryptic coloration, and pronounced dorsal fin of the males, there is nothing that looks quite like a Killer whale in the animal kingdom.
The documentary Blackfish (2013) is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. I don’t agree with the one-sided tactics (ala film maker Michael Moore) that doesn’t allow for an unbiased treatment of the subject (see SeaWorld’s response), but director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has constructed a thought-provoking, creepy, and disturbing film that had me glued to my laptop for 83 minutes. The film begs the question —Should large intelligent predators be kept in captivity? Blackfish centers on SeaWorld’s Killer whale Tilikum (Tilly), portrayed as a psychopathic and bored killer of trainers. Tilikum’s story is disturbing, heart-wrenching and difficult to watch.