A new film chronicling the efforts of a group of disparate allies to help save the critically endangered right whale will premiere at the New England Aquarium in Boston on February 16. Last of the Right Whales, directed by award-winning filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza, features the efforts of a group of allies, including a wildlife photographer, a marine biologist, a whale rescuer, and a crab fisher, to understand, document, and help the imperiled species. Including the first-ever underwater footage of North Atlantic right whales, the film follows the 1,000-mile migration of these whales from their calving grounds off Florida to their feeding grounds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The event will include a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion with Pequeneza, Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare; aquarium research scientist Heather Pettis, and Sandwich-based lobsterman Marc Palombo.
Fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales remain, and only 90 of them are breeding females. The whales face a host of dangers, including entanglement in fishing equipment, boat strikes, and loss of feeding grounds due to climate change, as warming waters push the whales farther north in search of food. Since 2017, at least 50 of these whales are known to have died, though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that only about 1/3 of whale deaths are actually documented. Only 42 calves have been born in the same timeframe. Scientists estimate the species could become functionally extinct within 20 years if nothing is done.
Pequeneza was inspired to make the film when her attention was caught by news reports of an unusual cluster of North Atlantic right whale deaths in 2017. As she learned more, she discovered the scale of damage humans cause to these whales and became determined to make a film about their plight. Her goal is to spread awareness of these whales and galvanize action to help protect them.
To learn more about the film and register for the premiere, visit neaq.org/learn/lectures/upcoming-lectures.