Last night before snuggling up in bed, I FaceTimed my dad. He was watching the news when I called and all of a sudden he interrupts the conversation to tell me that Sea World announced that they will no long continue their Shamu Show. Now this topic is something that has been discussed for years now. Personally, I have been super conflicted with this whole discussion. Now before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. When I was 11/12 years old my family and I took a trip to Florida, while we were there we visited Sea World. Both my little brother and I loved animals, especially aquatic, so this was such an exciting experience. We had decided that we would go see the show with the Orca's. Everyone raved about it and we were finally going to be able to experience it ourselves. We arrived a little early, and as we were about to enter the "arena" we were stopped by a man in a Sea World uniform.
He asked how old I was and after I answered shyly, he asked if I wanted to be a part of the show. This stranger man was offering me a chance to come up close and personal to these giant fish and stand in front of the hundreds of participants coming to Sea World that day. I was taken back to the "behind the scenes" area where they gave me this wooden Orca tail necklace, as a memory of this experience, and they asked me some questions about myself. My name, how old I was, where I was from and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, at that time in my life I'm pretty sure I wanted to be a teacher but after spending the day at Sea World and getting completely soaked up into the whole environment it seemed wrong to not say work with aquatic animals at Sea World. So I said both.
Long story short, I was brought out in front to this little spot by the side of the pool next to where theses the shallow little square where the Orca's come up. It was such an amazing experience, I had never in my life experienced anything like it before. Being so close to these beautiful animals was simply amazing. It only encouraged me to want to pursue my love for scuba diving.
Now, to the conflicting part. As I mentioned there has been so much discussion about the care for these beautiful creatures. I remember the first time I heard it being questioned I was heart broken. Then during my senior year of high school, in my environmental class, we watched "Blackfish". The only thing that was more horrifying that that was "Food Inc.". I couldn't believe how terrible it was. How it was possible that these nice men and woman that I had met could be so horrible and disrespectful to such a beautiful creature. I went from being a lover and admirer of Sea World to being unsure of what I was suppose to feel to completely despising them.
I am conflicted because I had such an amazing, once in a life time experience with that show. It didn't make me think of the animals as "toys" that we can manipulate and force to do things for the joy of others. I saw it as a spectacular adventure with intelligent animals. Sadly, that is not the case anymore.
In 2010, one of the trainers were killed by one of the Orca's. In my personal life, this is when all of the discussions really picked up regarding Sea World's Orca show. Again, after much discussion with family members, friends, teachers, etc. I am still conflicted about this. There are two sides. One, the Orca is horrifying killer machine. Two, maybe this is an indication of the Orca's being abused. Let me start by saying that the woman's death was a complete tragedy and may she rest in peace. But I think point number two may be on to something. I am not going to go into details as to why I think this because I would just have to explain the entire "Blackfish" movie. But the facts are there. There has been something seriously wrong with how these animals have been treated and it's wrong. They live in tiny little confinements, forced breeding, forced to "obey", forced to live outside their natural environment. As humans, we know how uncomfortable and terrible it is to be forced, unwillingly, outside of our natural environment, so why should it be considered okay to do this to animals?
Personally I'm glad that Sea World is cancelling its Shamu Show, it's simply said the right thing to do. They have announced that they plan on adapting a new attraction that embraces the Orca's natural environment and habits. I guess we'll all just have to wait and see how that all goes. But I really do encourage you to take two hours to sit down and watch "Blackfish", it's very eye opening about the importance of respecting everyone and everything in our big world. We all live on this plant, so let's remember to share it and respect one and all.
As always, stay open minded.
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Xoxo Sea Salt and Poms