TODAY   |  July 20, 2013

SeaWorld takes stand against whale documentary

A new film puts SeaWorld under the spotlight. The new film is being released two years after one of SeaWorld’s orca whales turned on a trainer at the marine park, killing her. NBC’s Mark Potter reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> controversy this morning surrounding a new documentary released in theaters about killer whales . it comes after one of seaworld's orca whales turned on a trainer, killing her. mark potter has more on why seaworld is defending themselves.

>> a great spiritual power.

>> reporter: a documentary called " black fish " raises the question about whether orca's or killer whales should be held to perform.

>> they are all psychologically traumatized.

>> the 2010 fatal attack in orlando where a huge orca grabbed his 40-year-old trainer and dragged her under water where she drown.

>> this was kind of the natural conclusion of that happening.

>> reporter: a film director says she used to take her children to seaworld to enjoy the whale shows. in researching, came to believe keeping orca's in captivity is wrong and dangerous.

>> they get very bored. they get incredibly frustrated and they don't survive for very long. then in some of these horrible cases, they, you know, kill each other or aggress and kill a trainer.

>> reporter: seaworld entertainment launched an aggressive campaign to criticize the film. in written statement, it says " black fish " is a documentary. instead of a fair and balanced treatment, the film is inaccurate and misleading and regrettably exploits a tragedy. seaworld is a highly respected institution and that "blackfish" fails to mention seaworld's commitment to team members and guests and care and welfare of animals.

>> they sell a lot of shamoo animals.

>> reporter: she hopes "blackfish" will spark a debate over whether the captivity of these should be fazed out.