Orca documentary, discussion set in Forks on Aug. 8

Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Peninsula College will bring a documentary and a discussion about Luna, a young orca who was abandoned, to the Forks branch on Friday, Aug. 8.

The documentary, “The Whale,” will begin at 7 p.m. at the Forks Extension site at 481 S. Forks Ave. It is free to the public.

Richard Osborne, who was contracted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2005 to lead the reintroduction of Luna to its native habitat, will lead a discussion after the film.

Osborne spent three decades as an orca researcher affiliated with The Whale Museum on San Juan Island and the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs prior to moving to the North Olympic Peninsula.

He is now a marine biologist and research consultant with the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks and works on salmon habitat restoration.

Osborne will answer questions and talk about the challenges that come with attempting to manage interactions between people and wildlife, especially when the wildlife is a large, intelligent predator capable of bonding with people.

In 2002, NOAA had contracted Osborne to be in charge of crowd control around the abandoned orca calf, Springer, when she was temporarily separated from her pod in British Columbia and lost in the waters between West Seattle and Vashon Island.

Springer was eventually returned successfully to her family pod.

Luna, an orca, turned up in Nootka Sound, a remote waterway that snakes inland from the Pacific to the old logging town of Gold River, B.C.

Make friends

Separated from family and pod, Luna became determined to make friends with people.

The documentary explores the ethical and practical questions that arose as people tried to help Luna.

When the documentary was released, it quickly drew rave reviews from critics and audiences alike and was selected as the Critics’ Pick by both The New York Times and Washington Post.

Filmgoers may recall the earlier cinematic predecessor “Saving Luna,” which was released in 2008.

In 2009, Eric Desatnik, founder of the Environmental Film Festival at Yale, discovered the film and showed it to Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson.

All three became executive producers. Together, they and the original filmmakers worked to produce a new film with added footage, streamlined narrative and a new voice. The result was “The Whale.”

Reynolds, who grew up in British Columbia near the place where the whale lived, became the film’s narrator.

In an interview published online on the Humane Society of the United States’ website, Reynolds explained why he took an active role in the documentary:

“The story was so compelling. . . . This creature challenged so much of our presumptions about wildlife,” Reynolds said.

“That a whale could, would and did reach across that line to connect with us is mystifying.

“Scientists often debunk the idea that a mammal could experience emotions and/or feelings similar to ours. Luna did this.”

For more information on the film series, phone 360-374-3223.

Last modified: July 24. 2014 5:57PM
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