I recently finished reading the new book Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, a great book documenting the reality of orcas in captivity, including many behind-the-scenes insights from former trainers. It inspired me to finish a video project that I've had on my mind to do for quite some time.
Young Monika was already quite into killer whales, and when I visited my grandfather in southern California in the late 90s I had my parents drop me off for a day at SeaWorld San Diego. I didn't attend any of the killer whale shows or see hardly any of the exhibits, but spent almost the entire day sitting right next to the killer whale enclosures, with the only break being to visit the bottlenose dolphins. I had a video camera in hand, and filmed several hours of footage. While I was excited to be that close to an orca, even at that age something about captivity didn't sit quite right with me, and it was the last time I would visit a marine aquarium that had killer whales as part of their collection. A couple years later, I would see killer whales in the wild for the first time, an event that altered the course of my life.
This short video contrasts the life of captive and wild orcas using some of that footage from my visit to SeaWorld alternating with clips from more recent years showing the Southern Residents, arguably the population of killer whales that was hit hardest by the marine capture era. Take a look, and please feel free to share if you are so inclined: