I have finished Part One: Blackfish of David Kirby’s Death at SeaWorld – an excellent review of the history of orca scientific study and captivity with detailed documentation of all major events and the stories of several individual whales.
Amongst many other important aspects, part one predominantly covers Tilikum’s capture, captivity at SeaLand (including the death of Keltie Byrne) and his eventual transfer to SeaWorld. It also covers the academic journey of marine biologist, now senior marine mammal scientist for Humane Society International, Dr. Naomi Rose. Kirby beautifully documents her interest in cetaceans from her fascination with dolphins at age 13, through the five years she spent studying and falling in love with orcas, to the completion of her groundbreaking PhD dissertation: “The Social Dynamics of Male Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, in Johnstone Strait, British Colombia”. 1992 was the year Naomi handed in her dissertation and the year she started to question the ethics of keeping killer whales in captivity.
So, it is with an already heavy heart, I begin Part Two: Dark Side.