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Mariner's Library


Directed By Gabriel Cowperthwaite

Available on Netflix, Blackfish is a 2013 documentary about Tilikum, a killer whale calf, netted in the North Atlantic to be used in pay-as-you-watch swimming pool stunts. The male orca went on to kill two trainers, Keltie Burn and Dawn Brancheau, and a member of the public who climbed into the mammal’s pen out of hours because he wanted to ‘swim with dolphins.’ David Duke’s body was found stripped with his genitals bitten off.

Having interviewed yachtsmen attacked by orcas for our Sailors’ Stories, this month, I viewed Blackfish for the first time. Watching these 30ft mammals in synchronised swimming bouts, heading footballs and wagging their tails like dogs for rewards of dead mackerel, while popcorn-guzzling humans clapped and cheered, I understood the potential for an orca to become a serial killer whale.

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