CNN asked their readers to vote for their 10 favorite films of 2013. The usual suspects were, of course, the audience’s favorite super heroes,  Iron Man and Thor. However, one the movies that got the most buzz on the internet might surprise you.

According to CNN, the highest ranking CNN Film in the year 2013 was Blackfish. It was also the second most mentioned cable program on Twitter when it premiered on the network last Thursday.

CNN decided to promote the film strongly throughout the day hosting a series of interviews with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. The interviewee was also a marine mammal scientist such as Dr. Naomi Rose and associate producer of Blackfish: Tim Zimmermann.

Not to people’s surprise, SeaWorld offered no “official” representative to argue the case of killer whale captivity, although known pro-captive industry reps such as Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and Gray Stafford who began his zoological career as a marine mammal trainer at SeaWorld of Ohio.

Also at hand during the CNN debate — post premiere on Anderson Cooper, was Billy Hurley. Presented as a marine mammal expert, his other credentials as Chief Animal Officer and Senior Vice President of Husbandry at Georgia Aquarium remained hidden, as did the revelation that Georgia Aquarium is currently seeking to import 18 wild-caught belugas from Russia.

Polls say no to captivity

Amid live CNN polls that asked, “should killer whales be held in captivity?” [90% no]. And, “would you take your kids to SeaWorld?” [86% no], Hanna, who once compared SeaWorld trainers to astronauts, appeared to like the sound of his own voice rather than the facts. He may also have spoken a little too freely when he declared that he was “not a whale expert … he only knows what he sees,” because he instantly lost any credibility and people tweeted their disgust.

As the Blackfish buzz continues — it sold out for its premiere at the film festival in Abu Dhabi this weekend and CNN will re-air the film today at 9pm EST, SeaWorld retains it reticence, aside from the occasional potshot from insider peeps.

One of the strangest came courtesy of Jason Kelly, who slammed CNN for broadcasting Blackfish calling it a “breach of ethics.” Kelly wrote:

“Journalists are ethically obligated to seek truth and report it, to minimize harm, to act independently and to be accountable. With its distortion of facts, its use of undercover footage, its failure to disclose conflicts of interest and its pandering to lurid curiosity, the film violates each of the four tenants that constitutes journalism’s ethics code.”

What do you think? What is your stance on the killer whale captivity? Let us know in the comments section and keep reading News Hour 24 for the latest world news.