Friday, February 7, 2020

Superpod Seven: Tipping Points

Superpod is a biennial gathering & conference on San Juan Island, Washington, USA, hosted by Voice of the Orcas and in consultation with The Whale Sanctuary Project & The Center for Whale Research. The event occurs from 20 to 24 July & the 2020 theme is Tipping Points 


2020 SP7 theme sketch (preview) by artist K. Makowski @d_delphinidae 

This year, you'll hear from at least three scientists from the Center for Whale Research, & also from Drs Naomi Rose, Ingrid Visser, & Lori Marino, as well as movie makers, NGO's, a race-car driver, dam experts, a rhetorician, journalists, former trainers & more. There will be between 30-40 presentations over a 3 day period, including a scholar advocacy program organized by Mariah Kirby, an alumnus of the program (now a biology teacher) & Dr Lori Marino 


Bigg's (transient) Orcas #Superpod1 Video / Gif via @jeffrey_ventre

Ex Marineland Trainer Phil Demers talks to Dr Ingrid Visser on the deck at Friday's, #Superpod6

Dr Katie Comer, Portland State U, presents her research on The Blackfish Effect, the 2018 Theme of #Superpod6
Attendees gathered on the deck at the Center for Whale Research. Photo via Phantom 2 drone, jmventre pilot 
Interested scholars should email Dr Lori Marino or Mariah Kirby for more information. See above

Dr John Jett presents our captive Orca survival paper at  #Superpod3. We later found out SeaWorld's mole was in attendance






#Superpod7 is the latest incarnation of an event that began in July 2011, & after an OSHA investigation was triggered into the tragic deaths of two killer whale trainers; one at SeaWorld of Florida & another at Loro Parque

The OSHA investigation & trial formed the backbone of #Blackfish movie & Death at SeaWorld, book. The ex SeaWorld trainers featured in those works became galvanized after a misinformation campaign was waged by the company; SeaWorld publicly attempted to blame the deceased trainers for their own deaths



--------------------------- SeaWorld's Misinformation Campaign was Extensive ------------------
SeaWorld's Expert Witness Jeff Andrews made this statement to the court. For more, see link below




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Click HERE
Thus, #Superpod1 was a reunion of former trainers who once worked together at the Orlando park. The concentration of ex trainers combined with orca scientists & folks familiar with the SeaWorld whale captures attracted journalists & a documentary film crew. Most of Blackfish was filmed at #Superpod1 & #Superpod2. David Kirby collected interviews at SP1 & released Death at SeaWorld at SP2. Film crews have attended all Superpod events, including with Bill Neal, director of Long Gone Wild, who attended SP6 & is expected to return for SP7 





The event has grown each year & continues to be organized by former SeaWorld trainers, marine mammal advocates & experts whose mission is to illuminate three primary topics, unified by an annual theme, in an evidence-based way: 


1. Marine Mammal Captivity & the need for an Orca / Whale Sanctuary
2. Scientific updates regarding orcas, especially the So Resident population
3. Salmon Restoration & the need for a free-flowing Snake River 

Southern Resident Orcas swimming in front of Lime Kiln Lighthouse, photo J Ventre #Superpod2
Jim Waddell, Ret Army Corps of Engineers, presents on the urgency of breaching the Lower Snake River dams
#Superpod6, Kim Ventre introducing Dr Lori Marino, Pres of Whale Sanctuary Project & our 1st presenter at #Superpod1

Bill Neal, Dir. of Long Gone Wild, updates the audience on captive orcas in China, #Superpod6

Scholar Advocate Ella Van Cleave, Michelle Duncan & Journalist Melissa Cronin, who just saw wild orcas, #Superpod3
Samantha Berg doing a live Barbi Twins Radio Interview over the phone from a rental home at #Superpod4
Ken Balcomb, P.I., CWR lays out census data regarding critically endangered So Resident orca population, #Superpod6


Volunteerism & minimal fund raising keep the event going. There will be opportunities to contribute if you are interested. The venue has changed as the event has grown. It began at private homes, moved to The GrangeThe Whale Museum & San Juan Community Theater. This year, we've rented the SJI Yacht Club, on the water in Friday Harbor, WA. Whale trips on the Salish Sea or whale-watching from Lime Kiln have changed lives, and continue to bring magical moments to attendees 






The San Juan Islands are stunningly beautiful. Many attendees stay the entire week of the event. If you only have 3-4 days, here's a rough outline: 

MON: Whale Watching. Event organizers meeting Monday Afternoon Friday Harbor 
TUES: Whale Watching in the morning. Lunch at Friday's Crab House
TUES Evening: Gather at San Juan Island Yacht Club for Welcome & Lectures 
WED: Lectures All day, social events at night 
THURS: Lectures all day, Lime Kiln Lighthouse whale watching 
FRI: Good Byes 

Dr Naomi Rose of AWI Presenting at #Superpod6, Theme The Blackfish Effect 
Film Crew documents an ex trainer seeing WILD orcas for the first time, #Superpod6
Carol Ray (Blackfish) waves to a passing boat from a rental home on the West side of the island, as whales swim by #Superpod4










If you are an orca lover (aka "dorca"), former animal trainer, naturalist, #Blackfish movie lover, SeaWorld worker, whale biologist, journalist, or just looking for an amazing week of "island time," consider attending #Superpod7. All are welcome. For more information: 

Via email: jmventre@gmail.com 
Via Twitter: @SuperPod2020, @Voice_OT_Orcas @jeffrey_ventre
Via Facebook: Superpod7