Monday, February 24, 2014

The Day We Almost Went To Sea World

If you were to have asked me 12 months ago while I was in San Diego if I wanted to go to Sea World I would have without a doubt told you that I would have loved to visit the park. On a student’s budget we had to pick our attractions and we chose to visit the San Diego Zoo with it’s new baby pandas instead of Sea World. For $84 a person it was a little much to do in addition to the Zoo.

A lot can change in a year. Even six months ago I would have been incredibly positive about a place that us 90s kids have incredible memories of, even if only through commercials. Growing up on the East Coast of Canada our regional CTV channel gave away Sea World trips all the time, it was engrained in us that the splash zone was a première family destination.

Imagine this in Little Kate's mind with all the added greatness of the 90s. 

Back in autumn the documentary ‘Blackfish’ had a screening in Nelson and the lovely ladies from 1035 The Bridge told us all about the incredibly emotional experience they had sitting at the theatre watching it. I was a little reluctant to get onboard with their contempt for Sea World, I had just visited the incredible Vancouver Aquarium where I was amazed by the important rehabilitation work the staff there does and found it hard to believe their claims from the doc.

Once we determined we would be vacationing back in San Diego again this winter Sea World started coming up again. I flip-flopped on whether to watch ‘Blackfish’ or not. But, with increasing activity on my Facebook and Twitter feeds about the documentary I knew it would come down to at lease watching ‘Blackfish’.  I was surprised at some of the people I know; people who do not normally vocalize their strong opinions via social media, venting online about their feelings towards Sea World and their sympathy for the killer whales being held in captivity.

So it came down to the wire, I put off watching ‘Blackfish’ because (to be honest) I have not been in the mood to be any sadder than need be in real life. Last night, my boyfriend and I were debating going to SeaWorld; to be honest with you I wanted to go. Forget the price of the day; I wanted to go for the show, for the rides and to see the animals.

Yes, I had been debating going and not posting the pictures online to avoid the ridicule from friends for going after having the resources to watch ‘Blackfish’ on Netflix and choosing not to (or worse, watching the doc and going anyways).  But, late into the night while we were trying to plan our day I put it on anyways.

Taken from Blackfish's Wiki page. 
I must say that I was absolutely horrified; ‘Blackfish’ brought me to tears.  We watched the entire film and had both decided early on that we would not be going to Sea World today. I am trying to take ‘Blackfish’ with a grain of salt, but just seeing the videos of the killer whales looking so unhappy is what made my decision for me.

Yes, there are moments when the killer whales do seem very happy; but they are outweighed (to me) by the moments when the killer whales are sad. What makes it worse is seeing the aggressive nature of the whales in captivity towards each other, I do not question that the Sea World trainers treat the whales well. I believe that they love the animals and respect them, as they should; but I do think that the bigwigs at Sea World are less concerned about the well being of the whales (mentally).
I am not trying to be preachy, I am not saying that you should not go to Sea World; I just wanted to voice my opinion on the whole ‘Blackfish’ saga in light of all of the hoopla that has come out in regards to concerts being cancelled and boycotts of the park.

I am totally for organizations like the Vancouver Aquarium that rehabilitate and learn from the animals in their care. I am against visiting Sea World at the current time until they can find a more humane way to do business.

As a kid who grew up on the Atlantic Ocean I learned about our oceans at an early age and to respect what you do not understand. Our planet’s oceans (and lots of the creatures that live within it) are some of the great mysteries we have left, unfortunately killer whales are a large, majestic mystery that we need to learn more about (apparently) even if it means not having kitschy interactions with them.

Even though Sea World is down the road for us right now, I think I will wait to see killer whales in their habitat, in their communities and take in their “culture”. Better for me to suffer on a cold boat than for them to suffer indefinitely in what sounds like killer whale prison.

Again, I will revisit the idea of going to Sea World in the future if their practices change or new unbiased information comes to light but right now my opinion leans towards staying away and taking the chance to see them in the wild.

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