A Productive 2008
October 07, 2008 by Peggy Stap
Now that I have updated you on the success of W.E.T. to keep things simple I will let you know the other exciting things that have happened in 2008 in chronological order.
The winter was very exciting with the volunteer work I do with the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation in Maui. We had an incredible and productive season plus some of my most amazing encounters with the humpbacks.
The premier of "Humpbacks from Fire to Ice" was presented by Ross Isaacs, the director, co-producer and underwater cinematographer on the project at Whale Quest Kapalua in February 2008. "Humpbacks from Fire to Ice" is an intimate film portrait of the first year of a baby humpback whale’s life narrated by David Attenborough. I had the pleasure of working with Ross for part of the making of the film in Maui. Ross Isaacs is an amazing and accomplished cinematographer who was a joy to work with. This film was a labor of love for Ross. He is very passionate about bringing his love of nature to the screen for others to enjoy and his love of animals. Ross has a big heart and gentle soul who cares deeply for the humpbacks as all earth’s creatures.
The Courier Mail in Australia (by the way that is where Ross lives) interviewed Ross about the film and some of the special moments. In the piece Ross talks about the amazing encounter in the water with a mother and her calf. That happened this winter. I was in the water doing stills while Ross was on video. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. The mother was nicknamed "Barnacle Betty" because of her barnacles. Truly an experience I will never forget as at one point "Barnacle Betty" swam right towards me within a couple feet and turned, which was amazing in itself, but then the calf squiggled between me and it’s Mom and touched me. It was the most calm and peaceful thing I have ever experienced. In all my years of research I have never reached out to try and touch a whale or a dolphin. I feel as if I am a guest in their world. So to have a whale touch me was very special. I cried tears of joy as I knew it was a once in a lifetime experience. Both Ross and I were under special federal and state permits with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to be in the water.
The Hawaii Whale Research Foundation (HWRF) has done a few projects with the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) over the 30-year span that Dan R. Salden, Ph.D. has been studying the competitive behavior of humpback whales. This year TBS wanted to do a documentary called "Ocean Odyssey", directed by Naomi Kawaguchi. The documentary aired in Japan in March 2008 starring award-winning actor Hideaki Ito.
The filming for the documentary was done in January and February of 2008 in Maui. It was an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of a documentary that would help educate the people of Japan on how research can be done by observing living whales. The film crew was amazing and a lot of fun. The joy on their faces after the encounters we had with the humpbacks was heartwarming. The incredible, magnificent and beautiful humpbacks captured the hearts of all. All that were involved in the project will be great ambassadors’ for the humpbacks in their country of Japan. I was so thrilled to be a part of it.
More to come…… Marine Life Studies had a very productive spring and fall doing surveys on the water in Monterey Bay. Will update more on this soon.