Monday, May 23, 2016

Superpod Five Killer Whale Conference is "The Future"

Updated 6-27-16 with scheduling information at bottom. 

In its fifth incarnation since 2011, Superpod Five kicks off 18 July 2016 in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. This year's theme, The Future, will feature presentations and activities that blend the work of our youth leaders with whale watching, updates on research, dams, salmon, & more. 
Click HERE to go to this Friday Harbor website  
A lot has happened with the local killer whale population since #Superpod4, and notably, SeaWorld has announced an end to captive orca breeding. These current events will be popular topics in Friday Harbor and at the San Juan Island Community Theater, our primary terrestrial venue.

Photo series v J. Ventre #Superpod4 

#Superpod5 is the fifth in a series of gatherings, hosted by Voice of the Orcas, open to the public and attended by an international group of scientists, filmmakers, authors, journalists, former trainers, naturalists, & orca advocates. 

Ella van Cleave, Michelle Duncan, , and journalist Melissa Cronin at #Superpod3 on the deck of Headquarters

The official itinerary includes events beginning Monday 18 July through Friday 22 July, but many visitors arrive before the event begins, or depart several days after the event closes. Once arriving in the "San Juans," most folks don't want to leave, and all can understand why orcas prefer the surrounding waters to concrete tanks. The Haro Strait, separating the West side of San Juan Island, from Canada, can be seen in the short video below: 

In general, the ideas & connections made at superpod gatherings have been significant in helping to bring concepts like captivity, dam breaching, & salmon restoration to the public through presentations, documentary films, direct action, social media, and journalists who attend and report on it. Four film crews have attended past gatherings, including for Blackfish, and we're told a fifth crew, another documentary team, will be attending in 2016. 

Below, hear Katie Emmons, one of the event organizers, speaking at the Kodak Theater, Rochester, New York, with Phil Demers in the foreground: 


The Business:

If you have questions about #Superpod5, the event planning committee for 2016 consists of:

Kimberly Ventre @KimberlyVentre
Dr. Lori Marino @Whale_Sanctuary
Carol Ray @carolray_wa
Dr. Jeffrey Ventre @jeffrey_ventre
Katie Emmons @BlueFreedomOrg
Captain Jeff Friedman @orcawild

Kim has secured the community theater, is handling the #Blackfish whale-watch ticket sales on June 1st, and is the lead organizer of Superpod5. The Blackfish trip will be on the "Western Prince II." 

[ SOLD OUT - quickly. Note that there are plenty of other whale watch opportunities & we can direct you to them. 

GO HERE: or you can also email:

Dr. Marino is speaking at the event and organizing a scholar-advocacy conference on the island. Please read the notice below and contact Dr. Marino if you would like to participate. 

Captain Jeff Friedman & Spencer Domico will be operating three whale watching vessels, The Peregrine, Imagine, and the new "J-1,"  during the event. For questions about getting on a WW boat, please contact Jeff. 

Jeffrey Ventre is organizing the speaking line up, utilizing this blog, Twitter, and direct communications to get people information, such as: 

1. Information about how to get to the island can be found HERE
2. Information about last year's event can be found HERE
3. The history of the event can be found HERE
4. The website for the event (built by Jeff Friedman) is HERE 

Note that you can register for Superpod events at the site. The information is used to estimate how many will be attending & planning venue size.  Also, this event is free & open to all, but there are costs, including rental fees for the community theater, over $2000. In an effort to keep the event free to attendees, there is an option to donate on the website

Carol Ray has secured Superpod5 headquarters, is a potential speaker and is an organizer of the event. Reach out to her for general questions. Carol is one of the cast members of the new documentary, Voiceless. See her in the new official trailer, below: 

Katie Emmons is one of our youth leaders and director of the new documentary, Voiceless, which will be premiering at #Superpod5. You can see Katie interviewing Dr. John Jett for her film HERE 

In this second video, Katie explains what Voiceless is: 

We're excited for #Superpod5 as it will attract folks from distant places who all share a love of killer whales, nature, and conservation, in general. Please use hashtag #Superpod5 as we approach this event. Based on early numbers, it will likely be the most attended superpod yet. We are expecting 300 to 400 attendees. Please return to this space for updates on tickets and the schedule, below: 


SCHEDULE -- Partial  

#Superpod5 Schedule (So far)

Monday July 18
2-4 pm: Meet & Greet at Friday’s Crabhouse
This is a casual get together to greet old friends and make some new ones. Everyone tends to gather on the top deck for a drink or bite to eat.

6:30pm Welcome to Superpod 5 “The Future” San Juan Community Theatre
History of Superpod and the Blackfish Effect
Ex-SeaWorld Trainer/Blackfish Cast Member Dr. Jeffrey Ventre

7:00pm Screening of documentary film Voiceless
Q&A with Voiceless Director and Blue Freedom Founder Katie Emmons

Tuesday July 19  San Juan Community Theatre 9 – 4pm
Scholar Advocacy Day
Presentation times to follow including:
9:00am – Young Adult Novel The Blackfish Prophecy
Rachel Clark, Science & Environment Author

How I Followed My Dreams to Superpod Using Social Media
Mariah Kirby, Biology Student, University of Missouri-St. Louis

To the Sea a film about (re)connection
Ella Van Cleeve, aspiring documentary film maker/advocate

Cetacean Awareness: Using Social Media to Create a Vibrant Community
Michelle Strom, Student/Founder Cetacean Awareness

Every Drop
Roya Paller, Social Worker, Founder/President Generation Change

Scholar Advocacy Roundtable including Dr. Naomi Rose, Dr. Lori Marino, Dr. Jeffrey Ventre

The Whale Sanctuary Project – the Future for Captive Cetaceans
Dr. Lori Marino, neuroscientist
Founder and Executive Director the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy

“I Am Not an Animal!”
Michael Mountain, founding member of The Whale Sanctuary Project Former President of Best Friends Animal Society

Conservation Canines
Dr. Sam Wasser, Director, Center for Conservation Biology
University of Washington

Wednesday July 20
Whale Watch Wednesday
Spend the morning exploring beautiful San Juan Island. Many Superpod participants are whale watching from shore, kayaks or boats–but the island also has wonderful hiking, biking, shopping and beachcombing. Don’t forget to check out the Whale Museum.

Afternoon – San Juan Community Theater 1:30-4pm

#EmptyTheTanks presentation
Rachel Carbary

Closing the Wild Capture Loophole: Working to Ban the Importation of Wild Cetaceans into Canada
Katherine Sussman, Ph.D

Alphabet Soup: Legislation, Regulation, and Agencies, oh my!
Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Protection Advocate and Orca Biologist

Dolphin Project
Lincoln O’Barry

Whale Museum 6:30pm
David Neiwert Of Orcas and Men Presentation and book signing

Thursday July 21 – San Juan Community Theater 9am-5pm

Presentation times to follow including:
The Ecosystem Approach: The Future of Endangered Species Recovery
Colleen Weiler, WDC, Rekos Fellow for Orca Conservation

Dolphin and Whale Brains – More Evidence for Complexity
Dr. Lori Marino, neuroscientist/Founder and Executive Director the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy

Navy Sonar & Marine Mammals: Potential Measures to Mitigate Harmful Effects
Meegan Corcoran, ex-Navy Biologist, University of Washington 

Center for Whale Research 40 years and Counting Shifting Baselines in the Salish Sea
Ken Balcomb, Founder/Executive Director, Center for Whale Research
Dr. Deborah Giles, Research Director, Center for Whale Research

A Captive Orca and Her Natural History

Howard Garrett, Co-Founder Orca Network


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  2. I have never been so excited for anything in my life. My first time seeing orca in their natural environment, and getting to meet all the people who I have looked up to and who have assisted me in my efforts to create change in Canada, is going to be a life-changing event for me. Thank you for organizing this.

  3. So sad that I can't join you this year, but there's always SP6 and SP7... :) Hope you guys have fun! Post lots of pics!

    and chickie...I might see ya in August ;)

  4. I am really looking forward to attending the entire event this year.

    The Blackfish movement has really done something incredible. They created a crossover from the anti-cap movement into real conservation and education and inspired people to action on behalf of wild orcas.

    As a personal anecdote, last year I was only able to attend for a few short hours but in that short time I was inspired by Jeffrey Ventre and Freidman to learn about and advocate for salmon and orcas here in the PNW. In turn others were inspired to care, act and some will be attending Superpod 5 as a result of a very short conversation on a roof top local bar overlooking Friday Harbor.

    Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to organize and attend Superpod.

    1. 👏👏👏👏 looking forward to seeing beautiful San Juan Island & learning more about orcas!

  5. Looking fw to it Diane! Haze! Beth, et al!

  6. OH no! Very disappointed that the whale-watching trip is already sold out. :-( It's only June 3 and the tix just went on sale two days ago. WTH?? Total bummer.

  7. Do you have times for the speaker sessions yet?

  8. I'm SO looking forward to this event! Nearly here . . . see you there!

  9. If you are attending Superpod5 check out the SuperPOD5 FUN group on facebook. Its a private group for people attending who want to join others in group activities. Here is the link:
    Because its a private group Im not sure if you can access it through the link, if not send me an email at and I can add you via your email. There are about 135 members who are planning fun outings outside of the Official SP5 events.


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