I wanted to share with you a review of our film, done for The Ecologist Magazine:
Hey there FW fans!
I wanted to share with you a review of our film, done for The Ecologist Magazine:
Why should you care?
231 billion pounds (105 million tonnes) of fish and other marine animals, including turtles, sharks, squids, are captured and killed worldwide by human beings...annually.
This number, which is rounded down and does not include illegal or non-recorded catches, is for both oceanic and inland aquatic animals taken mostly for food. Mostly.
That huge – nearly inconceivable – number does not include whaling, farmed fish and hatchery aquaculture, which is more than an additional 160 billion pounds of aquatic species, taken for consumption purposes.
That works out to roughly 60 pounds of fish (or other marine life) per each human being in the world, every year.
As an additional perspective, we slaughter (in the U.S. alone) around 3 billion non-aquatic animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, ect.) for food annually. A low estimate of global slaughter of non-aquatic farmed animals is more than 80 – 100 billion individuals.
As a species, we farm, fish and slaughter far more animals than what it takes to feed the entire world. This does not take grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables into account, which could likely feed every human on the planet – if equally dispersed.
Change of ideas for a tic...
Let's digress from what we eat.
Across the globe we've seen a decrease in productive pollinating insects (primarily bees) by more than one-third since 2005. The loss of bees could actually happen so quickly that certain plants and their products would simply cease to exist – nearly overnight.
The Earth is warming. That, too, is a fact. With it are not only rising seas, but melting ice. Glaciers are disappearing, sea ice is melting, snow packs are thinning – and a lot of that “fresh water” is now joining the salinated oceans, becoming woefully undrinkable.
At the same time, we are losing safe drinking water supplies in ever-increasing numbers. In fact, right now, 1,400 children die PER DAY worldwide, due entirely to not having access to safe drinking water (and the diseases that come from drinking nonviable water – such as dysentery). 1,400 children....each day.
An estimated total of 800 million people around the world live without access to safe water. And the drinking water situation is only going to get worse due to population pressures and a shrinking supply of fresh water. Imagine that we allow for our own species to suffer and die in those huge numbers because we are swaddled in the apathy of affluence.
I was once asked (in relation to making a documentary about killer whales); “Why should I care?”
The answer is why I front-loaded this blog with verifiable FACTS. These statistics are absolutely meant to punch you in the gut. Solidly, and as much as I might care about you, I truly hope it stings. Because here's my retort to the question of caring – my purpose – for each and every project and film I make:
I am trying to save the entire species. You, me, the dude down the street, the woman in Kenya, the child in Seoul... we all face the most monumental task our kind has EVER faced. You should care – you MUST care, or damn your families' families to a bleak and unrecoverable future.
We are looking into an abyss of species extinction...and OUR species is on the list.
No, I'm not talking an apocalyptic wasteland looming in the next 30 years. I'm talking about an initially slow – but ever increasing in momentum – slide into a more difficult world. A world that will eventually render our species null.
It will be a world of “new normality,” that we resign ourselves into believing was just the inevitable march of progress...heck, maybe it had “always” been that way...the future populous won't know for sure, people will simple try to adjust and survive.
We lose the black rhino. Ten years later, there's a whole generation of children who have no tangible memories of that species being anymore “alive” than the dodo birds. We see Kemps Ridley sea turtles die-off in 20 years, and only a small segment of the population would be able to tell you when they once filled beaches to nest in the moonlight.
We lose species every day. We even lose species we will never know existed. We are losing plants, insects and animals at a pace unseen by this planet since the last mass extinction.
So, the films aren't about saving “just” the whales, otters, sea lions, turtles, manatees. The countless articles weren't just filling column space with environmentalism, my book wasn't simply a catalog of pretty animals. They are – all – seeds.
Something I sow into a mind here, and a mind there. Maybe it takes root, maybe it sparks imaginations, feelings. It does grow – I've seen it. It's exponential and unstoppable – even if it reaches just a handful of people.
That, in its essence, IS the Human experience. It's universal. We gathered around the fire in years past and spoke of legends, folklore, spoken histories and eventually we took to drawing images, carving statues, taking photographic pictures and later making films...all to share knowledge.
No image, ever taken with purpose, lacks a meaningful story. Even in spite of itself, or the intent of the photographer. Making documentaries is like that, too. I will never know what my films mean to those who watch it. I may never know what those seeds grow into...but I hope. I hope they grow into something beautiful...something that changes the world...something that might save the world. Nothing less – nothing more – simply seeds of hope, scattered among the winds.
Here is video from our presentation to high school students at Redmond High School in Oregon.
Thank you to YoOceans for their great work in bringing us there and capturing the experience.
In a way, this was the most haunting thing I'd seen since leaving the battlefield as a combat soldier in the early 1990s.
The picture attached to this post in of “Moby Doll.” More accurately, it is of most of his skull.
The small building on Saturna Island BC that houses Moby's skull is kept in a museum, inside what was once a lighthouse/fog alarm building. The original Eastpoint lighthouse was built in the late 1800s and later replaced with a more modern structure in 1949, built on the same spot. The lighthouse itself is gone now, but the fog alarm building remains.
The walk up to the structure followed along a gently sloping path, passing windswept grasses whose movements looked for all intent like the gentle roll of waves upon the open ocean. The lighthouse had been built – as most are – on a point, adjacent to a rocky bluff, in an area that must have once been greatly treacherous to navigate without aid.
There were historic pictures and small displays set among the whitewashed walls and a plain interior, left unadorned sans a few mysterious hand-painted friezes on the bare walls. Although the building and exhibits felt historical in nature, it wasn't until rounding the corner into the second room, that a sense of tragic history washed over me all at once.
Encased in a glass display case, in the back room of the fog house museum, sits a sub-adult male orca's skull, staring into forever.
I think in some vague form I was cognizant of “Moby Doll” and the story of the first orca taken into captivity and displayed. But the full, excruciatingly tragic story of “Moby” goes far, far beyond what I think was I prepared to encounter that day.
In 1964, a sculptor was commissioned by the Vancouver Aquarium to create a full-sized (and truly life-like) model of a killer whale. No real decent representations existed in life-size of an orca, so the sculptor needed a live example for his creation.
What follows is hard for me to write, even though it is fifty years after the event, of which I wasn't even aware of until confronted with “Moby's” remains.
To get their “model” for the sculptor, people set up a land-based harpoon gun, not far from where the lighthouse is located. Two months of waiting paid off, when a pod of 12 orcas swam within firing range of the harpoon.
They fired the gun. It struck its intended target just above the eye patch.
PBS, A Whale of a Business, shares this eyewitness account of what happen next: "Immediately, two pod members came to the aid of the stunned whale, pushing it to the surface to breathe. Then the whale seemed to come to life and struggled to free itself--jumping and smashing its tail and, according to observers, uttering 'shrill whistles so intense that they could easily be heard above the surface of the water 300 feet away.' Burich set off in a small boat to finish the job. He fired several rifle shells at the whale...but the orca did not die.”
That would only be the beginning of an unimaginable hell for “Moby.”
Finding that he (which at the time, and until his death, they believed to be a female – hence the moniker “Moby Doll”) had not only survived, but was not readily dying, aquarium heads saw an opportunity. They used the embedded harpoon to tow the young orca back to Vancouver.
It took 16 hours, in choppy waves and a near squall. The intense pain of his injuries being renewed with every tug of the ropes on the harpoon tip, still in his head, is unimaginable.
They put “Moby” into a hastily-erected sea pen at the Burrard Drydocks and then quickly discovered they had no clue how to care for him.
After failed attempts to feed the young orca various meats – including horse meat -, over a period of days, someone tried (quite by chance) to toss “Moby” a lingcod. The now starving whale took the fish, and devoured it.
87 days after being harpooned, shot and dragged to Vancouver, “Moby Doll” perished from a combination of disease (contracted after capture) and likely the extent of his injuries.
But the young orca swimming endless circles in the small sea pen, became a sensational oddity and attraction to the curious, who willingly parted with fistfuls of cash to gawk at “Moby Doll.” The dollar signs lit ablaze in the eyes of marine park and aquarium owners everywhere. There was money in these orcas.
That was the beginning of one of the most-shameful and corrupted endeavors of the Human experience: Orca whale captivity.
I touched the glass. In my head I said that I was sorry for what we'd done.
I was numb after I left the lighthouse. I couldn't even begin to process the sorrow within me.
I still can't fully.
"Fragile Waters" was awarded "Film of the Year" at Dolphin & Whale Film Fest (Phinfest) in Dana Point, California on March 13.
This is a truly proud moment for us - all of us, who helped bring FW to life and to tell the story of the Southern Residents and chinook salmon. We are greatly honored and humbled by it.
Phinfest was an AMAZING event!
What truly got to each of us was the incredible company we were in. Academy Award winner Louis Psihoyos (The Cove, Racing Extinction director) and members of the awesome Oceanic Preservation Society, Scientist and animal rights advocate Dr. Naomi Rose, Christopher Porter (Ocean Walls, appeared in Blackfish), gray whale expert Alisa Schulman-Janiger and other amazingly talented folks were also honored for works that span almost all cetaceans.
For us, the award signifies (again) that word IS getting out, people ARE listening and maybe....just maybe...we can inspire action to save the orcas and salmon.
For everyone who has stood by us - stood up for us - and helped us get the word out; THANK YOU!
We had the most AMAZING trip to screen the film in Sausilito CA, for SF Bay American Cetacean Society and then onto Redmond OR, to speak to more than 200 students of Ridgeview High School, who were wrapping up a three-week lesson about issues prominent in our film.
SF Bay ACS had the Bay Model center PACKED with an audience of concerned and well-educated folks, who care about whales and dolphins. Our Q & A session was fantastic, and (sadly) we ran out of time with them because the center was closing. I'm sure we could have continued the discussions for much, much longer.
The high school students watched the film before we arrived, but we spent 70 minutes with each of four classes, having in-depth discussions about "Fragile Waters" and elements of the film.
It was amazing! Those young folks are truly engaged and aware of the issues. It was humbling and rewarding to speak with them and share their time.
A local news affiliate did a spot for the evening news:
It was, simply put, a heart-touching & AMAZING trip!
Take this short quiz and test your knowledge of Fragile Waters!
1. Coupeville, WA Jan. 24 (DONE – SOLD OUT!)
2. Blaine, WA Jan. 26, 2015 (DONE)
3. Victoria, BC February 7, 2015 – Symposium at Camosun College (DONE)
4. Sausilito/San Francisco, Cali Feb. 24 (ACS Hosted event - http://acs-sfbay.org/2014/11/14/special-event-the-documentary-film-fragile-waters-february-24th-at-bay-model/
5. Redmond, OR – February 27, 2015 – School Screenings/Presentation
6. Dana Point, California March 13-16 Phinfest – Dolphin & Whale Film Festival: https://www.facebook.com/PhinFest
7. L.A. March 31: ACS Hosted event: http://www.acs-la.org/calendar.htm
8. Whidbey Island, WA Freeland Library: Wednesday May 27 at 1:00 PM, Coupeville Library: Wednesday May 27 at 5:30 PM, Oak Harbor Library: Saturday May 30 at 2:00 PM
9. Bellingham, WA: April 4
10. Orlando, Tampa, St, Petersburg and Clearwater: April 17 -19, https://www.facebook.com/events/832679903457439/, https://www.facebook.com/events/903469813028872/,https://www.facebook.com/events/335971793279941/
11. Chicago, IL/Minneapolis, MN June 5-8
12. Bainbridge Island, WA (date TBD, likely June)
13. Avila Beach, California August 15, 4TH ANNUAL THANK YOU WHALES CELEBRATION EVENT 2015
14. Antibes, France Sept. 21, 2015, hosted by SOS GRAND BLEU
15. Dublin, Ireland, Sept. 25-27 2015, ENVIRO FILM FEST
*Possible dates/venues to be added: Paris, France (lateSeptember), Boise Idaho mid-June, Milwaukee Wisconsin (May 1-2), North Vancouver, Kamloops BC and Saruna Island BC.
Film director Rick Wood and co-director Shari Macy have worked on several multimedia, television and film projects.