I finally worked up the courage to watch Blackfish, a documentary I was certain I would find upsetting. It was definitely upsetting, but I'd already had a fairly negative opinion about whales in captivity before seeing this film.
This month, the courts upheld a verdict that required trainers to be protected by a barrier and they could no longer swim with the whales. Legislation in both California and Florida is moving toward the banning of these large mammals in shows at all.
Sea World argues that the trainers are safe and that keeping the trainers out of the water detracts from the show.I wouldn't disagree with that, but I think this is a good step toward making Sea World evaluate its practices. They could do a lot of good, if they would embrace the conservation side of the industry and become leaders in marine preservation and education. They can't do this while maintaining that whales in captivity are just fine when all the evidence shows otherwise.
Here's a worksheet and other reading resources to go with the film if you want to show it to your students. It's probably too disturbing for younger kids, but definitely is a good place to start a conversation about bioethics. http://biologycorner.com/worksheets/videos/blackfish.html
I had to search on flickr for a photo of orcas that weren't in captivity, as I'd much rather show them in their natural habitat looking healthy and happy:
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/hometowninvasion/