K’jipuktuk [Halifax, NS] May 14, 2019. Internationally acclaimed actor, writer, director and producer Ethan Hawke is calling for an end toseismic blasting and oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in a short film premiering today in Halifax. “The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale,” was filmed in Nova Scotia last summer when Mr. Hawke and his family sacrificed personal time together, to enable this tiny gem to be produced. Today’s screening will kick off a campaign by Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Save Our Sea and Shores Coalition to stop seismic blasting in Canadian waters.
“According to right whale experts, seismic surveys, used to detect oil and gas deposits under the sea floor, are the loudest human produced noise after nuclear explosions,” states Hawke. “Hearing is as critical to whales as vision is to us. Whales depend on sound for all their life functions. The blasts blind the whales so they can’t give or receive the calls they need to survive: they can’t orient themselves, find food, find a mate, or their calves; they wander out of their habitat, they blunder into fishing gear and ships. Scientists warn us that if seismic blasting is allowed to proceed, it will very likely cause the right whale to go extinct. We simply cannot allow this to happen,” he says.
“We are deeply grateful to Ethan Hawke for helping us to raise awareness and cast light on the hidden devastation that seismic blasting has on all forms of marine life in our oceans, especially these endangered whales,” states Mary Gorman, founder of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. “The Gulf of St Lawrence, an inland sea, (bordering on half of the provinces in Canada), is a vital spawning, nursing and migratory region for thousands of marine species, and is one of earth’s most precious ecosystems. But it is rapidly deoxygenating and needs immediate protection from all forms of industrial exploitation. This ecosystem is in great danger from seismic blasting from offshore oil activity. This has to be stopped before it is too late,” she says.
“When I showed this film to my mother, Thunderchild, a Mi’kmaw Elder and Thunderbird Clan Mother, she cried," says filmmaker Eliza Knockwood, who directed the film. “This is not something we can turn away from any longer. My hope is that with this film, the calls of these magnificent right whales will no longer be drowned out by seismic blasts every 10 seconds, sometimes for months on end,” she says.
“Scientists have evidence that seismic blasting affects the food chain; we now know it kills plankton, fatally strands squid and damages lobsters, scallops and snowcrab. Fishing communities along the entire Eastern seaboard rely on healthy oceans, and it is outrageous that this ongoing assault is occurring over valuable fishing grounds and harming endangered whales,” says Dr. Linda Weilgart, who is featured in this video.
“This calving season saw seven new babies born in this population of right whales, while the previous year, not one calf was born. We cannot overstate the significance of these special births and the need to protect these nursing calves and their mothers, as they return to Canadian waters” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Exposing them to seismic blasting is not only unacceptable, it could lead to a violation of Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA). We are calling on the Canadian government to work with the U.S. to protect the entire migratory route of this endangered species. If we are to save this species we must protect all of their habitat,” she says.
“We have fought seismic blasting off the coasts of Florida, the southern calving grounds of North Atlantic right whales, and so far we have won,” says Susannah RandolphGonzales, Sierra Club Florida Chapter. “These hard-won protections for critically endangered whales in US waters are clearly not being upheld by Canada. We are pleased to be here today to add our voice to this call to action.”
For more information, please contact:
Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Dr. Linda Weilgart
Sierra Club – FL Chapter