Even a year after the documentary's debut, SeaWorld is still feeling the severe backlash over Blackfish. The impact of the film has been monumental, both in regards to SeaWorld's decreased ticket sales and image, and has also contributed to the decreased popularity of aquariums and marine shows.
Reaction to the documentary prompted nearly every musical act, including Heart, Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, and Pat Benatar, among many others, to cancel their concerts at the "Bands, Brew & BBQ" event hosted at SeaWorld Orlando. Various Senators proposed legislation that would ban their respective states from keeping whales in captivity, and cited Blackfish for raising public concern.
Although attendance to aquariums and dolphinariums is trending down, we here at Auto Europe recall pleasant memories making fish faces with our chubby childhood cheeks pressed against glass tanks, hooting at penguins as they waddle along, and marveling in awe at the many bizarre creatures found deep under the sea. But we're also sensitive to well-founded objections to visiting whale jails, so we want to assist you in having a positive experience at the aquariums you visit as you drive around Europe.
In countries throughout Europe, opposition to mistreatment of captive whales is at its strongest. In a recent study conducted by the Born Free Foundation, 86% of British tourists said they would not visit a marine park while on vacation, and 82% of French travelers agreed. Numerous aquariums across Europe and the United States have retired their dolphin and killer whale shows, as visitors have consistently stated they are uncomfortable with the shows.
If you'll be traveling in Europe in the next few weeks, you may be wondering how you can scope out some cool looking fish without feeling like you're contributing to mistreatment. A basic tip would be to avoid any marine parks that have live animal shows featuring seals, dolphins, or whales. Mammals performing live shows are not subject to the same treatment as tank animals as they spend hours per day training and are on special diets that keep them in shape for rigorous, monotonous shows several times per day.
However, don't be too quick to avoid an aquarium because it does have dolphins, whales, or seals. If they're not performing in shows, they're likely kept in large open tanks or sea pens reminiscent of their environment in the wild. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, for example, retired its dolphin shows and is considering retiring all of their mammals in order to create the first ocean-side dolphin sanctuary in the US.
Instead of completely boycotting aquariums and dolphinariums on their next vacation, folks who are sympathetic to the plight of captive mammals are able to become part of the solution. Consider supporting ethical institutions like the the Oceanário in the city of Lisbon, which contributes hundreds of millions of dollars each year to environmental conservation and education, and avidly promotes the ethical treatment of animals.
There's no doubt that Blackfish has played a huge role in SeaWorld's decreasing popularity, as well as the decreasing popularity of marine parks and aquariums in general, despite the efforts of the institution to cope with the fallout of the film. Thankfully for travelers who are curious about mairne life and are looking to learn more about it on their next trip, there are countless aquariums and dolphinariums all over the world that can help educate, entertain and inspire without having to rely on the exploitation of marine animals to get visitors through their doors.