The North Atlantic right whale is on the brink of extinction, but there’s still hope for it to survive. We’re committed to an all-hands-on-deck approach to saving New England’s iconic whale – from litigation to legislation to community engagement.
As part of those efforts, we were thrilled to co-host the 2019 Right Whale Festival at the New England Aquarium with the Aquarium and Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. This year’s festival was all about youth activism and included an award ceremony for winners of CLF’s and Bow Seat’s Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge. The Challenge invited K–12 students from New England as well as the Gulf of Maine region in the U.S. and Canada to use their creative voices to highlight the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and the need for conservation of marine habitats and resources.
The Right Whale Festival kicked off with interactive displays and activities from groups from across New England, including writing postcards to Congress to support the SAVE Right Whales Act. Entanglement in fishing gear is one of the biggest threats to right whales, and the federal act, if passed, would provide funding for new gear that’s safer for whales. The art featured on the postcards came from Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean participants.
A highlight of the festival was The Calvineers, who traveled from Castine, Maine, with their science teacher, Bill McWeeny. He’s been teaching his middle school students about right whales – and guiding them through public activism and scientific study – for over a decade. The Calvineers gave short presentations about the whale that gave the group its name, including a song they wrote and performed with ukulele accompaniment.
We also premiered our short documentary, The Whale at Scale, which features the people who are using the power of the law, science, and photography to save the right whale.
A panel discussion featured a diverse range of voices, including:
- CLF Senior Attorney Erica Fuller, who is leading our legal work to save the right whale;
- Marianna Hagbloom, a Research Assistant with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life’s Right Whale Research Program;
- Isabella Ceresia, a junior at Holliston High School and member of the Aquarium’s ClimaTeens and live blue™ Ambassadors programs; and
- Emily Adams, a senior at Falmouth High School and Gold Award winner in Art in the Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge.
Brian Skerry, National Geographic photojournalist and the Aquarium’s Explorer-in-Residence, moderated the panel.
The event was capped off by a ceremony in which Alyssa Irizarry, Executive Director of Bow Seat, awarded the winners of the Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge alongside CLF President Brad Campbell, Bow Seat Founder Linda Cabot, and Brian Skerry.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event, and, especially the students who used talent to create beautiful artwork, poetry, and videos about right whales. The art created through this contest has the power to engage the public, raising awareness and driving action. It’s an essential element of our ongoing advocacy to save the right whale.
You can help take action by calling on your representatives to take up and pass the SAVE Right Whales Act.