In order to illustrate the problems affecting the ocean, we have chosen to employ one of the finest and most effective media: film. We believe that film can best convey how greatly the oceans affect us. And how much we need a healthy ocean to survive.
Humpback Whales © Fabien Michenet
The problems of the oceans and humankind are becoming more urgent and demand action. In order to do justice to at least some of those problems, we have decided to initiate two films of varying focus: "Singing Planet" and "Our Blue Canoe".
In this documentary film we concentrate on the Pacific, geographically the biggest of the world’s oceans. Nowhere else on the planet do more people depend on the sea for a living, over a billion of them being closely associated with the Pacific. But there is another important reason for our choice of the Pacific: acknowledged and revered throughout Polynesia as family members, as messengers of the gods and ancestors, whales often occur there in the world of myth. Beyond this, they also hold particular scientific significance for us because of their place near the top of many food chains, so their physical condition and health of their populations permit conclusions to be drawn about the ocean’s health.
In our quest for an appropriate symbol for an ocean-friendly way of life, we hit on the Polynesian forefathers. Silently, without any modern navigational aids and without consuming any fossil fuel, they sailed across the Pacific several millennia ago in big canoes known as vaka. From Tangaroa, the sea-god, they took only as much fish as they needed to sustain life—a mode of existence that testified to their respect for his domain. For the past few decades, many people in the Pacific have been engaged in reviving this traditional form of seamanship and way of life. We have, therefore, chosen to film a voyage aboard a traditional vaka as a metaphor for a sustainable lifestyle.
Vaka Hine Moana © Tanja Winkler
The principal actors in our film will be the people of the Pacific who sail the vaka—and, of course, the whales they encounter. We are convinced that the ocean’s spirituality and immensity, together with its fascinating inhabitants and the beauty of a leisurely vaka voyage across the Pacific, will touch the hearts of people all over the world and heighten their sensitivity to the problems besetting the ocean. We are strengthened in this belief by the assistance we have already received from many wonderful people in the Pacific area.
Our film will be completed this year and is due for release in cinemas in spring 2014. More about the content, the film team, the trailer and news can be found at the "Our Blue Canoe" website.
In the course of the earth’s history there have been several huge surges of extinction in which more than 50% of species died out all over the world. Most experts describe five of these disasters as the five great mass extinctions. The best-known occurred 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. The various mass extinctions are always attributed to certain events: fluctuations in sea level, intense volcanic activity, meteorite strikes, and climate change. The earth recovered.
We are now heading for the sixth such occurrence, and the sole cause of it is the human race. No one knows if the earth will recover under human influence.
Louie Psihoyos © Rui Camilo
Read more about Louie Psihoyos' organisation Oceanic Preservation Society.