Confused and separated from the pod, a southern resident whale is cornered by boisterous whale watching boats. The coasts have become clogged and crowded with the passing tourists eager for a candid snapshot of an orca. Sentinels of Silence? aims to end these invasive events. The interviewees care deeply about the southern resident whales which is evident in their words and mannerisms. Some have watched the same pods return for over twenty years, recognizing individual whales.
In past decades the whales would feed on the Fraser River salmon, a local food source which has begun to dwindle in recent years. The combination of the lower food supplies and pestering tourists have made the whales scarce, sometimes absent for whole seasons. Groups such as Washington State Southern Resident Orca Task Force work on ways to bring whale protections into legislature such as increasing the distance in which you can view whales from 300 yards to 600 yards.
Sentinels of Silence? brings awareness to the problem whale tourism creates.
While the documentary doesn’t contain many cinematic flourishes or intriguing camera techniques to keep the wider audiences engaged, it offers a treasure trove of information for niche whale enthusiasts. The film pushes the viewer to think about their own seemingly innocent actions and challenges. The paparazzi phenomenon that forms around wild animals is brought up specifically as problematic behavior. Where does the line lay between observing nature with care and actually harming the animals?
If you want to learn more about an increasingly prevalent problem adversely affecting these intelligent creatures, you’ll be able to absorb the information to begin your own path in eco-sensitive measures with Sentinels of Silence? Those, like this writer, who are more accustomed to and comfortable with documentaries that embellish the storytelling with cinematic techniques may want to read about this subject rather than devote screen time to watching this film.
Available to watch on the EcoSong webpage for Sentinels of Silence? or Youtube, and Vimeo.
Director: Mark Pedelty
Editor: Karl Demer
Images courtesy of Mark Pedelty and Robert Harrison
About the Author:
Michael Dean Adams is a student at Utah Valley University where he studies film and English—a freelance writer and poet obsessed with the art scene. Michael spends his free time reading and writing poetry, watching and analyzing Avant-Garde television, or reading Eastern European history.