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Produced and directed by Joel Pickford
Submarine Films, 1992. VHS cassette, 18 min., $149.00. Distributed by T.H.A. Media Distributors.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by C.L. Ross

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November/December

This is a film about killer whales in captivity. The trainers at the Vancouver Aquarium speak candidly about what their program is trying to accomplish. They have much to say about the fact that the whales in their care are being used for the purposes of education and research, as opposed to making a profit. It is also made abundantly clear that they see themselves and the Vancouver Aquarium in direct opposition to other large aquariums, such as the one in San Diego.

The tragic accident in which a trainer was killed at the aquarium in Victoria is discussed by both the trainers in Vancouver and a former employee of the Victoria operation. This section of the video does not paint a flattering picture of the now defunct Victoria aquarium or any other so-called commercial operation. It needs to be said, though, that nowhere in the film does anyone discuss the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity in the first place. I found that a decided lack. I also found it a bit one-sided. I would have liked to hear what the employees at San Diego had to say regarding the treatment of the killer whales in their care.

The quality of the video was all right. Some of the location shots were, however, somewhat grainy. The content and style are definitely appropriate for the intended audi­ence. This is not a video that has a lot to offer; however, it does make some very salient points about the treatment of whales in capti­vity and the danger inherent in having them captive. Note, though, that it is not a defini­tive film by any means on this subject.

It does have potential as a discussion starter, so consider it, if your collection is lacking material in this area.


C.L. Ross is a librarian with the Okanagan Regional Library in Kelowna, British Columbia
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