Wildly popular documentary “Blackfish” removed from Netflix

A trainer guiding a whale during a show at SeaWorld.

The Catalyst / Milan Boers/Flickr

A trainer guiding a whale during a show at SeaWorld.

“Blackfish”, a 2013 documentary about Killer Whales in captivity, explores many things: The lives of the whales, the everyday lives of the trainers, and their relationships with the whales. However, it also explores the abusive behaviors from the trainers that the whales endured. “Blackfish” recaps the lives of many whales who drastically shifted from being happy and content, to drowning their trainers in the water. After 8 years, during which it reigned as the highest-rated science or nature documentary on Netflix, “Blackfish” is being removed by the site, due to unknown official reasons.

Prior to “Blackfish”, SeaWorld’s treatment of the animals in their amusement parks was unknown to the public. However, in January 2021 alone, more than 3.1 million people watched “Blackfish”, proving that it was a groundbreaking documentary exposing Seaworld for their crimes. Why is it now being taken off of the most popular streaming service? Some, like the Hollywood Reporter, claim the documentary is being removed to make room for newer shows and movies. Others claim that the documentary falsely stated that the interviewees in the movie were inexperienced in Killer Whale training, as most primarily worked with other animals.

In the documentary, over 10 former trainers were interviewed about their work at SeaWorld, Sealand, or Loro Parque (An interactive sea park in Spain, very similar to the Sea World franchise). Many of these trainers were close to or knew the trainers that had been killed by whales in these amusement parks. According to a fact sheet from PeTA, people for the ethical treatment of animals, all three current seaworld parts have failed to meet federal AWA (Animal Welfare Act) standards. In March 2014, legislation was passed to end the use of whales for entertainment shows in California. Richard Bloom, State Assemblyman, proved SeaWorld’s claim that their revenue would go down without whale shows to be wrong.

Bloom told KQED in an interview, “The evolution of these parks and the evolution of zoos and aquariums is in the direction of non-performance,” Bloom stated. “[The Monterey Bay Aquarium] had to confront the paradigm that said ‘You can’t make this successful without having orcas and without having dolphins.’ And they said, ‘That’s not correct.’ They actually have no performances, no cetaceans, and there are people lined up out the door.”

Monterey Bay Aquarium values are focused on education and the rehabilitation of most animals. Between 2002 and 2016, the aquarium released 37 sea otters back to the wild after their time in rehabilitation.

With more shows and movies coming out like “Blackfish”, “Tiger King”, and “Seaspiracy”, people are learning the behind-the-scenes impact of humans on the environment and other species living alongside us. The release of “Blackfish” back in 2013 triggered many protests about unethical treatment of Killer Whales and other animals in captivity. There are still over 50 Killer Whales in captivity today in the state of California alone. The true message of “Blackfish” still holds true—that no whale should be forced to live in any confined space—even if the documentary may contain certain inaccuracies.