8th Annual Friday Harbor Film Festival

Sentinels of Silence?: Whale Watching, Noise, and the Orca

Expired November 1, 2020 6:45 AM
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Watch the recording of the filmmaker livestream Q&A from the festival today for free HERE!


Does whale watching protect or harm whales? This film explores heated controversies over whale watching, boat noise, and orca conservation in Washington State and British Columbia. Whale watching companies claim that they serve as "sentinels" protecting the orca from unwary recreational boaters, ferries, and ships. A number of local conservationists and scientists have argued that whale watching boats crowd and harass whales, while adding noise to the orcas' immediate environment that makes it difficult for the social species to survive. The Pacific Whale Watch Association has hired lobbyists and brought suit against their local opponents. "Sentinels of Silence?" uses dramatic imagery, peer-reviewed science, and interviews with conservationists, scientists, and industry officials to bring a fascinating chapter in the orca conservation story to light.


Director Statement

Sentinels of Silence? brings to light a fascinating, important and little known story involving the impact of industry PR, lobbying, advertising, and legal action seeking to silence a coalition of conservationists and scientists (with fair voice given to the whale watching industry as well). We have decided to premiere and distribute the film through the festival circuit in order to support the festivals as we struggle through, and adapt to, COVID-19. We are committed to bringing a large national environmentalist audience as well as regional audiences in WA and BC to the festival or each of the festivals that decide to premiere and/or present this important story. We are partnering with a progressive publicity firm and have a significant budget dedicated solely to advertising festival screenings of the film.


Director Mark Pedelty - Biography




Mark Pedelty has produced and directed a number of environmentally-themed, award-winning music videos and media projects. Pedelty and the Ecosong.Net team have just completed a 26 minute documentary film entitled Sentinels of Silence?: Whale Watching, Noise, and the Orca. Pedelty directs Ecosong.Net, a network of musicians, artists, accountants, and talented individuals of all sorts that come together to work on ecologically urgent media projects. Pedelty is a Professor of Communication Studies and Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, as well as a Fellow at the Institute on the Environment and he has conducted ethnographic field research in Mexico, Central America, British Columbia, Washington State, and Minnesota. He combines field research with applied, community-based communication projects seeking to create more sustainable practices through media production, the arts, and community mobilization. Among Pedelty's recent projects is a global, Mellon-funded project entitled Music in a Changing Climate that involves communities and colleagues working in Bangladesh, China, Tanzania, Haiti, and the Salish Sea region of the United States and Canada.


Friday Harbor Harbor Film Festival wishes to thank Rays General Store and Pharmacy for sponsoring this film.


  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    26 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Mark Pedelty