Call of the Orcas
Chronicling Ken Balcomb's dedication to saving Pacific Northwest orcas, the film questions human-orca coexistence.
ABOUT THE FILM
WINNER: 2023 FHFF BEST ONLINE SHORT FILM
Call of the Orcas explores the urgent effort to recover endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales of the Pacific Northwest, through the eyes of one of their human champions, researcher Ken Balcomb, who passed away in late 2022. Balcomb’s determined survey work over nearly fifty years helped people see these orcas as individuals, in family groups, and led to a subspecies listing under the US Endangered Species Act. The story encompasses many perspectives on the unique orca culture of the Pacific Northwest, from an indigenous experience of orcas as family to the lifelong commitment of Canadian researcher Dr. John Ford, who dedicated his career to documenting orca calls.
Southern Resident orcas are distinctive for many reasons, among them their long, close proximity to human populations. They continue to visit the Seattle waterfront, following their preferred prey, Chinook salmon. Despite an aggressive capture program five decades ago, mutual curiosity between the people of Puget Sound and Southern Resident Killer Whales continues, raising an urgent question for human residents of the Salish Sea. Can we learn to live in a way that sustains the orcas among us? This story profiles a researcher running out of time, while 73 remaining whales depend on our actions for survival.
Friday, April 12, 2024 at 7:00 PM
John Ford, PhD
Gabe Van Lelyveld
Director of Photography