"I feel sad for Tilikum. A regal thing like him swimming around a tank with his fin flopped over like that, you know, compared to a wild bull killer whale that size, which is one of the most kinetic and dynamic things you can imagine. I feel sad when I see him."
- Dave Duffus, whale researcher
Blackfish works to reveal the mistreatment of captive orcas and other animals owned by SeaWorld by looking closely at the life of one killer whale in their possession, Tilikum. The documentary uses many interviews with former SeaWorld employees, including former trainers who worked directly with Tilikum, to learn more about the exceptional whale. Tilikum was known for his gargantuan size and his unfortunate involvement in the deaths of three people, including a SeaWorld trainer. The director uncovers the history of SeaWorld, including how the company acquired its animals historically, the troubling tactics they employ in training the animals, and the cruel conditions in which the animals are kept, which include pools that are extremely small and lack stimulation for the highly intelligent creatures. Since the release of the documentary, SeaWorld has ended its captive orca breeding program and no longer allows trainers to interact with orcas in the water.