Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Superpod Four Recap & Superpod Five

Superpod Four was a success with many of the goals being achieved. It was well attended and whales were plentiful. For the 4th time in the past five years people walked away informed & inspired. Some will take action based on new knowledge. 

Jeff Friedman leads a group on his boat, The Peregrine. J. Ventre photo 

After years of evidence-based analyses and debate, there is little doubt that the removal of the lower four Snake River Dams is critical to improving the health of the Northwest salmon fishery, the region, & to the survival of the endangered Southern Resident Killer whale clan. 

This move not only helps whales, but stakeholders. The return of potentially tens of millions of salmon each year provides not only food for humans & predators, but organic material for soil, grasses, shrubs, crops, trees & small critters. Conversely, stagnant warm water behind dams kills fish, collects toxic sediment, & blocks the cycle of life. 

A dam to a river is the equivalent of a clogged artery.  It's time we...  #LetItFlow

Due to being very high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Salmon help unclog arteries in humans. We should return the favor. 

We sincerely apologize to Adam Wicks-Arshack whose moving short film, Treaty Talks, A Journey Up the Columbia River for People & Salmon did not get screened due to lectures running late, combined with ferry scheduling & poor communication (translation, "cell service," while on the island). 

We've embedded Treaty Talks Here, so you can watch it. Adam's film takes on salmon restoration as the cameras follow his crew from Astoria to the headwaters of the Columbia River in hand-carved canoes painted to represent five species of salmon that use the river. The Grand Coulee dam, one of many they passed, has NO fish passage. It's a must see film for those interested in this issue. 

The documentary DamNation, did screen at Superpod Four, & nicely encapsulated the argument for removing deadbeat dams. An all-star panel followed the screening & we learned that dams are not just detrimental to salmon passage, but also expensive; a key point that politicians need to be made aware of. After seeing wild killer whales at Superpod Four, Blackfish cast member John Hargrove took direct action and called The Whitehouse. Consider doing the same. 

From a summary memo (something to tell The Whitehouse):   
"The four lower Snake River dams impede access to more than 5300 miles of prime salmon habitat and operate with huge public subsidies, largely to maintain a seaport 465 miles inland at Lewiston, Idaho 
The fastest way to recover Snake River salmon according to many scientists and the court overseeing the fish litigation in the Columbia Basin is to remove the four lower Snake River dams."

Laurel & Ryan aboard the Western Prince "Blackfish trip" -- Photo JV
During the past week connections were made & collaborations initiated. These are the people that will get the job done. Over 300 individuals registered although we don't have an official count on how many people actually attended. Based on the final party at the Center for Whale Research, it was "a lot." All three "local" orca pods participated with plenty of J's, K's and L's making appearances throughout the week. 

Making the correlation (for hundreds of participants) between dwindling salmon & the endangered killer whale population was the biggest accomplishment of Superpod Four. 

Photo JV

The new babies looked healthy & much socializing, foraging & resting behaviors were witnessed from the shores, including at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse, as well as from the sea. Several authors, including Sandra Pollard, "Puget Sound Whales for Sale," David Neiwart, "Of Orcas & Men," and John Hargrove, "Beneath the Surface," all had excellent interactive presentations. Their books are all hyperlinked above. 

Much gratitude to Jeff Friedman and Dr. Deborah Giles for doing the on-island organizing, working the mics, and the securing of venues. It paid off during the event and time will tell what comes of the orca-salmon people cross-pollination. 

The Community Theater was a Great Venue for Lectures             Photo JV
The Community Theater was a great space and the presentations were informative. 

Killer Whale Families were Plentiful at #Superpod4 - And not a single collapsed dorsal fin. 

A Los Angeles based film crew led by Tessa Rapaczynski did an amazingly effective IndieGoGo campaign, raising enough funds to begin producing a new short film or documentary. (Hint for next year). 

They obtained interviews from notable orca scientists Ken Balcomb and Ingrid Visser as well as the staff at the Center for Whale Research & many others. The @SuperpodDoc team was all over the island & the Haro Strait and we can't wait to see what they'll produce in the months ahead. 

Kudos to that depth of vision, drive and execution, not to mention the faith they had in the event itself to deliver top rate material in just 5 days. With "black n whites" around... it's not hard to do. 

Derik, Riana & Dalton Nelson were on island to raise awareness with live music including this original song for Lolita.  

Dr Ingrid Visser and Blackfish cast members had a great live L.A. Talk Radio interview with The Barbi Twins, Jani Shultz & Captain Paul Watson. That interview is archived, HERE, & gets into several different issues regarding SeaWorld, whale watching, & the captivity debate. 

Dr Visser's rousing lecture received a standing ovation. Here she describes how SeaWorld & the captivity industry "green-washes" captures & calls them "rescues"    Photo: Jeffrey Ventre 

It will take many months for us to absorb everything that happened at #Superpod4, from the lectures to the amazing killer whales, bald eagles, seals, humpbacks & everything else. And this recap is not comprehensive in any way. There was a LOT going on. 

The weather was blue skies until the final day, when it turned wet, but that didn't stop the Southern Residents from making a pass by the Center for Whale Research for the final party. Like last year, the whale's timing couldn't have been better. 

Blackfish Cast Members Host & Help Put On Superpod Events Along with Jeff Friedman & Others

The Road Ahead: #Superpod5

This year our event theme was salmon. In 2016 we look to The Future & honor the new young leaders of the animal justice movement. They are the ones who will #EmptyTheTanks and redirect our global human society toward a sustainable course. We've already reached out... and with their help and leadership, next years event will take another step forward. 

#Superpod5: The Future
Dates: Mon-Fri, July 18-22, 2016 


Stay tuned for more material here and @Voice_OT_Orcas (interviews, presentations, photos, and more). Hashtags #Superpod5, #Blackfish, #EmptyTheTanks, & #LetItFlow (dam removal) are in full effect. I hope to see you at #Superpod5, The Future. JV

Photo JV


  1. I can't believe I was part of this. Thank you guys for all you do.

    I've found my focus, after struggling with balancing anti-captivity and the problems the SRKW are facing.

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  2. Astrid, it was great to meet and talk at SP4. Thank you for being there. Hope to see you next year.

  3. Great review! Even better event! Hoping to reach out to more public to educate! Saving the dates for SP5 in my datebook! Thank you so much! Breach those dams is what I want to hear happening when we reconvene!

  4. Great time, and looking forward to next year.

  5. Gotta figure out my battcave for next year ....

  6. It was such an amazing and inspiring event! Thank you to everyone who organized it. Can't wait for next year!

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