Team OPS Update From The Field

Friday, November 05, 2010


OPS, the team that created the film, The Cove is working on the next project, Singing Planet, addressing issues of man-made extinction. Last month, director Louie Psihoyos and the OPS team went to the South Pacific to film humpback whales in 3D. Here’s an account of the experience from Kirk Krack, freediver from The Cove.


My first introduction to OPS’s new movie, The Singing Planet, was in the Island Kingdom of Tonga. The film's goal is to pull on people’s heartstrings by capturing, the audio and visual of what we have to lose as species are dying off.

We were in the water, shooting interactions between newborn calf and mother humpbacks. This species really symbolizes the start of environmental movements in the 70’s.

The new calves, which were anywhere from less than a week to several weeks old, would frolic and play around their mothers. They would try to spy hop (elevate above the surface) , tail slap and play with their moms, rolling around and on top of them. It was much like a baby human taking those first few crawls forward, discovering that its hand is attached, and that it controls it, and by the general curiosity all new babies exhibit.

To film them, I would introduce myself and given enough time they would either accept me, allowing me to get closer to film, or they would reject me and keep me at distance too far to get any good footage. Sometimes it would take hours until I was accepted, but one special time I got onto a mother and calf that I had seen a week earlier, and they welcomed me almost immediately.

The new calf would stay tucked under its mother’s chin, and after a short while the calf would start its journey to its next breath. But the surface also meant playtime and for 10 minutes I’d have a 10-15ft baby calf swimming circles around me, checking me out, practicing spy hopping and tail slapping within feet of me. Just rolling around on the surface to enjoy all that its new life could offer. It was an underwater videographer’s dream. I didn’t have to chase, I just had to be patient and let them get comfortable with me and accept me in their space.

As a new father, I was especially touched by the baby playing and frolicking. My own daughter Kaila (meaning ‘Ocean’ in Hawaiian) being only seven months old at the time, I almost felt myself inside the mind of the mother humpback. As the baby would near the surface where I was filming or swim within feet of me I would instinctively go to the mother to see her reaction.

The Cove solidified my commitment to wanting to see a better future for the ocean and our environment. We’ve gone past the point where ‘ignorance is bliss’. We’re now going to have to do something. This isn’t ‘some other generation’s problem’. This absolutely going to be our problem and the next generation, my daughter’s generation will be most affected. Dr. Sylvia Earle says we have 10-15 years at most to do concrete and large things to change the course of our oceans. Or it will be too late. Those are very scary words to hear if you actually listen to what she’s saying.

Once I was asked how it felt to be an environmentalist. My response was that ‘I felt no more an environmentalist then anyone living on this planet should feel’. I do this now more than ever for one thing: the future of my daughter and her generation, and for all generations to come. The world is no longer so big that our actions won’t have repercussions. It’s in fact a very small village now, but a village that has 6.8 billion people and by 2050 will have 9.5 billion people on it. In our current state it’s unsustainable and a catastrophe waiting to happen. We have to work together to live within a balance with nature and the earth lest it should decide it’s finally had enough of us. This is possible. We just have to decide to be the change we know should happen and quit burying our heads in the sand.

So when Kaila comes to me when I’m at a ripe old age and she’s starting her own family and she’s asking me ‘how did this all happen to her generation’ I want to feel like I can tell her that at least her father and mother tried to make a difference for her.