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Documentary hopes to help save endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

Reference: CTV News

MONCTON - A 92-minute documentary from 2021 called “Last of the Right Whales” brings a life-or-death message to the forefront.
“These whales could very well be extinct in 20 years,” said Sholeh Alemi Fabbri, the impact producer for the film.

“So, it’s really important that people understand who they are, what the challenges are that they’re facing and how we, as humans, can change and modify our behaviour to make sure that extinction doesn’t happen.”

“Last of the Right Whales” follows the mammals from their calving grounds in Florida to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence -- showcasing three different whales.

“One, unfortunately, is a dead whale. But you’ll actually understand the necropsy and what happens when these whales have been killed or have died,” said Alemi Fabbri.

“One of our star whales is Snow Cone, North Atlantic right whale 3560, and you see her story. Her story really illustrates perfectly the challenges that these whales face. You see what happens to her calf with a vessel strike, you also see what happens to her when she’s entangled in gear,” she adds.

The third whale, NARW 4615, tells the story of a freshly entangled whale.

“It’s pretty powerful,” she said.

The filmmakers say the documentary aims to raise awareness and reduce vessel strikes, and gear entanglement.

“I can tell you that we have seen real impact already for audiences,” said Alemi Fabbri. “We know that 67 per cent of people that have watched this film, didn’t know anything about or very little about North Atlantic right whales.”

Snow crab Fisher Martin Noel says new technology can make his colleagues part of the solution.

“We’re trying to find some solutions with the mechanism like a buoy on demand or rope-less like some people are calling it,” said Noel. “It’s pretty new for us because it’s basically fishing with your smartphone or smart tablet. Calling a buoy that’s 300 feet in the bottom of the ocean and you just take your phone, call that buoy… it seems like science fiction.”

Since 2017, Noel has been working with a scientific team to do a right whale survey. He says it takes creative solutions for fishers and whales to co-exist.

“We still have some work to do, but I mean it’s a big step from at the start we’re saying rope-less is hope-less, but today it’s a solution for us,” he said. “It’s a way for us to fish safely and without harming the whales.”

Adding, “we have a very bizarre relation with the whales now because it causes closure. When we see a whale while we’re out fishing, we’re kind of scared of the whales because it’s pushing us out of the area, but with this new technology, we’re going back to what we were before. Whales are friendly.”

Next week, on Nov. 23, at the University De Moncton Shippagan campus, people have a chance to view the entire documentary and take part in a panel discussion afterwards with both scientists and fishers.

“We’ve worked really closely with a number of NGOs on our impact work which we really think was the key to the success of this campaign so far,” said Alemi Fabbri.

“We’ve worked with Canadian Whale Institute, Canadian Wildlife Federation, with IFaw both in Canada and the U.S., Sierra Club Foundation of Canada and Pew Charitable Trust, plus Oceans North so all of these people together have been helping us to build a campaign and reach communities and really amplify the message.” ... Read More

The trailer for “Last of the Right Whales” is available online.