This Friday, Americans will get a glimpse of what could be one of the most important documentaries of the year. It's called "Blackfish," and it details the emotional and physical trauma related to the kidnapping and forced servitude of orcas at sea parks, notably Sea World.
In 2010, the investigative documentary "The Cove" shocked the world after telling the story of thousands of dolphins forced into a small bay, or "cove," where Japanese fishermen would slaughter them in droves. The images of the blood-stained sea water still haunt activists who have worked tirelessly over the past few years to battle against the Japanese government's cruelty.
Now, three years later, "Blackfish" could be the beginning of another powerful animal rights movement, based on compassion and hope, against the destructive powers of sea parks in the United States and abroad.
The trailer shows harrowing footage of orcas being surrounded by nets in the wild by Sea World before being captured and forced to live the remaining days of their lives in captivity, putting on "shows" for human consumption and pleasure. The interviews with those responsible reveal how debilitating this action can be, with one of the men saying it was "the worst thing" he has ever done.
Orcas already have a bad rap in American culture, being dubbed "Killer Whales" due to their protective capacity and ability to take down a Great White Shark in open water. But the reality is these animals are family-oriented, have a spoken language and are mammals with great intelligence.
Putting them in captivity can lead to massive psychological consequences and even violent tendencies, as witnessed in the killing of a Sea World trainer, which was a key spark in the making of the film.
"Blackfish" is a powerful and detailed look into the realities that these animals face in captivity -- and the cost on their minds and bodies.
No longer should it be permissible for animals to be taken from their families and forced to perform for our pleasure. In this new documentary, we can begin to piece together the horror that must be going through each orca as it is kidnapped and transported to a tank at a sea park.
As Gandhi said, how we treat animals is a sign of our own progress.
With orcas, we still have a long way to go.