John Hargrove, author of “Beneath The Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld And The Truth Beyond Blackfish”

by | Apr 22, 2015

John Hargrove —author of “Beneath The Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld And The Truth Beyond Blackfish”—discusses his childhood love for SeaWorld and its orcas, which began with his first visit to the Florida park in 1980 at age six, and subsequently involved persuading his mother and stepfather to make annual pilgrimages there. beneath-the-surfaceHe muses that his unusual obsession, with both SeaWorld and the whales, likely stemmed from profound loneliness resulting from the broken home that kept him separated from his siblings. Hargrove addresses, having achieved his dream of not only working for SeaWorld, but doing do at Shamu Stadium, became something resembling a nightmare as he gradually observed that the welfare and treatment of the orcas was viewed as a low priority, particularly when compared with boosting the bottom line. He acknowledges that his hargrove-testimonyincreasing disappointment and anger over these revelations, and decreasing willingness to remain mum about them—most prominently, writing “Beneath The Surface”– placed Hargrove squarely in the role of quintessential whistle blower. Hargrove describes the way that SeaWorld tends to punish its employees who are critical of its operation, and as part of that discussion, we listened to the audio of SeaWorld’s new TV commercial, clearly os-cfb-seaworld-john-hargrove-20150329designed to neutralize the impact of Blackfish, the influential documentary, and his new book, with Hargrove providing analysis of the ad. As part of a conversation about the myriad methods SeaWorld has employed to attack and discredit Hargrove, he responds to questions about a video that was released, perhaps by SeaWorld, Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 11.54.03 AMshowing Hargrove three sheets to the wind, talking on the phone with a friend—and using the n-word. In addition, Hargrove speaks to my observation that having read “Beneath The Surface” not long after seeing “Going Clear,” the documentary about Scientology, there are some striking parallels, such as how both entities react to individuals leaving the organization and, perhaps more so, criticizing the organization. (

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Don Goldstein, of Greyhound Rescue Adoptions of Tampa Bay (GREAT), about a new piece of pending legislation–House Bill 1233–that contains provisions for injury reporting and decoupling. If this bill passes, it would represent a significant step in greyhound protection and welfare. (,

COMEDY CORNER: Ron White’s “Killer Whale” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business”


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