Archive for February, 2012

February 28th 2012
Big Miracle

Posted under media

John Krasinksi and Drew Barrymore in Big Miracle

I laughed, I cried, I loved it!

I finally had a chance to take in Big Miracle. This required a trip to Boston since none of the theaters in my local area opted to show the film. I’ve been following along with reviews and articles about both the film and original events, so had an idea what to expect. All the same, I had a strong emotional response to the movie. And I don’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

The brief summary: three grey whales find themselves trapped by ice miles from open water, unable to hold their breath long enough to get out from under the ice cover. Discovered by chance, their plight grows into a story that held the world’s attention until a solution was found to help them gain their freedom.

Part of my following the media around the film has included following Cindy Lowry – the inspiration for Drew Barrymore’s character – on Twitter. It’s rather cool, I think, to be able to interact with a principal person in a story as that story finds renewed publicity. One of the many articles she tweeted was from Alaska Daily News, ‘Big Miracle: The Real Story.’ An account from someone who was present for much of the story as it unfolded, it provides a contrast between what actually happened and the story rendered on the big screen.

What’s interesting to me ┬áin that article is what’s reported as happening just after the whales were discovered. Initial response was not as portrayed on screen. There was no immediate mad dash to save them. After all, natural mortality happens all the time. Nature is not a gentle place, and there are always casualties. All manner of creatures, marine and land alike, will die for a myriad of reasons. It’s just how things go. Add the extreme conditions in which these whales were located, and it’s not like rescuing a bag of puppies dumped by the side of the road. So the start of this was not ramped up, as seen on the big screen. Had those whales not been spotted purely by chance, their loss would likely have been both inevitable and never registered on any human radar.

And yet they did register, and before long, multiple players overcame long odds and fundamental philosophical differences to work towards the best possible outcome. In a cosmic sense, this was a unifying event in many ways, bringing together environmentalists and oilers, conflicting governments, the Inupiat and non-native people. And while not all of the whales could be saved, it also worked to shine a spotlight into a remote wilderness. Can that be bad? It is true that lots and LOTS of money was spent in the effort, but it seems that the awareness and creation of new bridges was worth it, from my armchair perspective. We cannot save all of the whales who get trapped under ice, but we can learn about ourselves and our priorities when we do try. And we learn more about the whales, which is never a bad thing in my mind.

I’ve picked up the re-issue of the book on which the movie was based, Big Miracle by Tom Rose (formerly titled Freeing the Whales) so am curious to read the more detailed account. If anyone has any other reading to recommend from this event, please let me know!

See the film if you can. Might not be in theaters for long, but the DVD will be worth watching as well once it comes out. I’m planning to add it to my own library.

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February 4th 2012
Cyamids = whale lice and we have a winner!

Posted under misc

Many thanks to those who visited and commented for an entry into the giveaway. I know the question was a pretty easy one, but I felt an easy question was better warranted :-)

And our winner is: Jill! Congratulations, and I will be in touch with you by email.

Hoping to get a chance to see the film soon, myself. None of my local theaters are showing it (the perils of living in a rural area) but I’ll find a theater somewhere!

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and thanks again for playing.

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February 1st 2012
Big Miracle, Starring Grey Whales – and a Giveaway!

Posted under misc

Big Miracle - a film about grey whalesOn February 3 here in the United States, the film Big Miracle is opening in screens across the nation. The TV ads will tell you that the stars of the film, which is based on a true story, are Drew Barrymore and Jon Krasinksi (as well as Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Tim Blake Nelson, and Ted Danson). And I am sure they will be quite enjoyable to watch, but I’ll be watching for the whales.

We all know how charismatic and popular some whales are – especially humpbacks, orcas and just about all dolphins – but grey whales are sort of the second cousin. People know they are there, especially along the west coast of the US where there is a seasonal whale watch industry that’s just as interested in greys as other cetaceans, but how much do people really know in general? A couple of quick facts… There used to be grey whales in the Atlantic but they were hunted to extinction. One of the most critically endangered populations of whales in the world, the Western Pacific greys, are a group numbering around 130. They summer off the the Russian island of Sakhalin, near the northern end of Japan, where oil and gas exploration is strongly impacting their main feeding ground. One whale from that population has proven to be quite a traveler, having been tracked across the Bering Sea and down towards the coast of Oregon. Then there’s the grey whale that mysteriously turned up in the Mediterranean a couple of years ago. Continue Reading »