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A documentary film about the struggle to save the Vaquita, the world's most endangered marine mammal.
A documentary film about the struggle to save the Vaquita, the world's most endangered marine mammal.
162 backers pledged $15,951 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Film Synopsis

We want to educate the world about a unique, critically endangered porpoise: the vaquita. With fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild, the species has been forced on a course toward extinction. Vaquita porpoises are found in only one place on earth: off the west coast of Mexico in the northern waters of the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Vermilion Sea. There have been long-term efforts to save this species from complete extinction but now more than ever the vaquita needs our help if it is to going to have a chance to survive. There is good news, however. The extinction threat is reversible!

Adult female and calf.  Photo credit: Tom Jefferson
Adult female and calf. Photo credit: Tom Jefferson

The vaquita population has been decimated by fishing practices. Fishermen trying to fulfill the demand for shrimp use gillnets. When these nets are set, vaquita end up as bycatch; unable to surface for air, they drown. Additionally, there is a demand in China for totoaba, another endangered species, which is caught by fisherman using these same gillnets. Totoaba are harvested for their swim bladders, which are thought to have medicinal purposes and exhibit a status of wealth. Together, these issues paint a bleak future for the vaquita, but through awareness, regulatory measures, and international cooperation the vaquita can be saved.

Vaquita swimming in front of fishing trawlers.  Photo credit: Paula Olson
Vaquita swimming in front of fishing trawlers. Photo credit: Paula Olson

Saving the Vaquita 

This will take a grand human effort from a diverse array of dedicated individuals, many of whom have devoted their careers and lives to the recovery of this species. By showing how government agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, wildlife and marine mammal research groups, and citizen scientists are able to come together in the midst of a crisis, this film will show humanity’s ability to find strategies for coexisting with our fellow species on this planet. 

Vaquita swimming in the Sea of Cortez.  Photo credit: Tom Kieckhefer
Vaquita swimming in the Sea of Cortez. Photo credit: Tom Kieckhefer

Make a pledge to this campaign and join our effort to save the vaquita from extinction!

Stretch Goals

$15,000   Funding Goal!

$20,000   This funding amount will allow us to make additional trips to the Vaquita Sanctuary to continue filming, document progress, and increase our chances of filming a vaquita, as they are extremely elusive. Additionally, if we reach this stretch goal by the end of the campaign all of our backers who are scheduled to receive a DVD copy of the film will have the option to upgrade to a Blu-Ray if they wish. This universal upgrade will only be offered IF this stretch goal is reached!

$25,000  This funding amount will allow us to travel to China to follow up on the story’s totoaba swim bladder component, as the issue directly effects vaquita populations.

Reward Levels

ORIGINAL POSTER ART level - 11x14" print of this poster art design created specifically for this campaign by talented graphic artist Sarah Walsh. Printed on Aurora Natural Fine Art Paper (100% cotton rag, acid-free, matte, heavyweight) with gorgeous Epson archival pigment inks.
www.sarahwalshmakesthings.com
www.sarahwalshmakesthings.com

THE VAQUITA BOOK level - The Vaquita is a book by Vaquita activist Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky. It provides information about the world's most endangered marine mammal, from their biology to how best to help them. Complete with original illustrations and poetry, this book is great for anyone interested in the natural world.

 
SIGNED BOOK level - The Vaquita is a book by Vaquita activist Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky. It provides information about the world's most endangered marine mammal, from their biology to how best to help them. Complete with original illustrations and poetry, this book is great for anyone interested in the natural world.


ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 1 - Limited Edition for Kickstarter Donors 5 X 7 linocut prints of Vaquita, each hand-pulled (printed) by biologist/artist Gena Bentall. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon its completion.  Example below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 2  - ALL GONE!  -11 X14 matted colored vaquita drawing by 15-year-old vaquita activist Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky. Author of the book, The Vaquita. Example below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 3 - Limited edition prints of this unique Vaquita painting created specifically for this campaign by Boise artist Nicolet Laurson. Photo of the original painting below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 4  - ALL GONE!  - Receive a one-of-a-kind 9X12" matted watercolor from Emily Underwood, illustrator for Wild Hope Magazine. Example below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 5 - Unique 9x12" vaquita black and white art print on special rice paper from vaquita biologist and artists Barbara Taylor. Example below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 6 - Unique 9x12" vaquita color art print on special rice paper from vaquita biologist and artists Barbara Taylor. Example below:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 7 - Acrylic on wood vaquita painting from Wild Lens board member and talented artist Erin Strasser. Final painting will include a handmade, custom frame. Example below:

The Future/Our Goals

The goals of this film project are twofold:

1. Over the course of our three-year production schedule we plan on releasing video content documenting efforts to save the vaquita. These short videos will keep the public updated on the recovery effort with the aim of inspiring more people to become actively engaged in the issue.

2. We plan on producing a feature-length documentary film that will track the course of vaquita recovery efforts over the course of the next three years. Scientists have projected that the vaquita will be extinct by the 2018 unless recovery efforts are dramatically expanded. Our goal is to document this crisis situation over the course of the next three years. The funds raised through this campaign will fund the project’s first year.

In many ways this film will be the greatest challenge ever undertaken by Wild Lens. But it also has the potential to be our most powerful story to date. We are standing on the precipice of a truly singular situation - the fate of a species hangs in the balance and no matter what happens, we will be there to film the story.

Maintaining our focus, being able to adapt to rapidly changing situations in the field, and continuing to collaborate with the many partner organizations already involved will be just a few of the many challenges that the next three years hold in store for us. Although these challenges will be great, we are better situated than any other group to tell this story.

Our estimated completion date for this film is September 2018. Over the next three years we will be documenting the events as the story unfolds. It is impossible to predict the outcome, but we will follow this issue until vaquita populations stabilize, increase, or go extinct. We have a great deal of hope that the result will not be the latter. This is why everyone's involvement is so important. Joining this cause and funding our project will help us tell the story of the vaquita and celebrate all the amazing individuals fighting for their survival.

About the Filmmakers

Sean Bogle (Director, Producer)

Sean filming Northern elephant seals in California.
Sean filming Northern elephant seals in California.

Sean received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in filmmaking and sculpture from Stephen F. Austin University. He began his career as an interior designer and after a successful stretch in the design industry he decided to move toward the wildlife sciences. For the past ten years, Sean has been a field biologist on the forefront of conservation and research. He has been involved in a wide spectrum of wildlife research projects, having worked with native fish restoration, small mammals, Pacific fishers, Maasai giraffe, and even searched for the elusive Ivory-billed woodpecker. His love for conservation steered him toward the marine world, beginning with northern elephant seals on the Farallon Islands. For the past five years he has been working for National Marine Mammal Laboratories, NOAA, starting with the Hawaiian monk seal recovery project and the Steller sea lion behavior and demography study in the Aleutians Islands. Currently he works on a Northern fur seal study on the Pribilof Islands. 

His love for film and passion for conservation made him a perfect fit with Wild Lens and he became the Project Director for their Eyes on Conservation series. He oversees all aspects of production for this documentary web series, which presents current conservation efforts by biologists, citizen scientists, and non-profit organizations.

Matthew Podolsky (Producer)

Matt filming Greater Sage-Grouse in Nevada.
Matt filming Greater Sage-Grouse in Nevada.

Matthew helped found Wild Lens in 2011, with the goal of bringing biologists and filmmakers together to produce films that would have an impact on critically important wildlife conservation issues. Matthew began full-scale production on his first feature length film, Scavenger Hunt, immediately after the inception of Wild Lens. This film went on to have a successful festival run in 2012, and was picked up for distribution by Cinema Libre Studio. Matthew also served as producer and co-director of the half-hour documentary Bluebird Man, which was nominated for an Emmy Award and will be broadcast nationally on public television in winter 2015.

Prior to his work with Wild Lens, Matthew spent four years working as a biologist with the endangered California condor, spending time with the wild population of condors in Arizona and Utah, as well as with the captive breeding program for condors in Boise, Idaho. Matthew received both a BA in Cinema/Photography and a BS in Environmental Science from Ithaca College.

Wild Lens is a non-profit video production company focused on producing insightful documentaries that have a measurable impact on wildlife conservation issues. Our first feature-length documentary, Scavenger Hunt, completed an award-winning festival run in 2012 and was released on DVD and Video on Demand platforms by Cinema Libre Studio. It was produced with one simple goal in mind: to convince hunters to switch to non-lead ammunition. Our second documentary, Bluebird Man, was successfully funded through Kickstarter in 2013 and has since been broadcast on Idaho and Oregon Public Television, been nominated for a Northwest Regional Emmy Award, and will be broadcast nationally via the Natural Heros series in winter 2015.

Wild Lens also produces the documentary web series and podcast, Eyes on Conservation, in which we work closely with non-profit groups, wildlife researchers, and citizen scientists to document important conservation issues. New short documentaries are released on our innovative online platform each month, and new episodes of the podcast come out every Wednesday.

Risks and challenges

We will face unforeseeable obstacles during this film project, but our passion, persistence, and dedication will be our strength of success. Maintaining our existing relationships with the very individuals on the front lines of this issue while expanding our connections with people and organizations with the same mission will be our focus. It's this collaborative effort that will allow all of us to have the greatest impact in saving the vaquita.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANK YOU level - A heartfelt ‘Thank You’ on the Vaquita website, a thank you tweet on Twitter and a thank you post on Facebook. This level applies to all further reward levels.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    VAQUITA VOD level - Digital Download of Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    VAQUITA DVD level - DVD copy of Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    VAQUITA BLU-RAY level - Blu-Ray copy of Souls of the Vermilion Sea

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    BLUEBIRD MAN DVD level - DVD copy of Bluebird Man. This Wild Lens film follows the story of one citizen scientist who has helped conserve bluebirds for over 35 years. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion (will ship separately).

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    TRIPLE VOD level - Digital downloads of all three Wild Lens films, Scavenger Hunt, Bluebird Man, and Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon completion.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    VAQUITA RINGTONE level - receive a digital download of our unique vaquita ringtone, created specifically for this campaign by beatboxing guru Ben Mirin. Ben blended the vocalizations of the Vaquita with beatboxing to create an original song, which you can set to play every time your phone rings if you select this reward. You will also receive a digital download of the song in mp3 format, and a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon completion.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    SCAVENGER HUNT DVD level - Receive a DVD of Scavenger Hunt. This Wild Lens film chronicles the struggles facing the endangered California Condor. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    THE VAQUITA BOOK level - The Vaquita is a book by Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky about the world's most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita porpoise. This book provides information on their biology as well has how to help them. Complete with original illustrations and poetry, this book is great for anyone interested in the natural world. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    TRIPLE DVD level - Receive the complete Wild Lens film library with DVD copies of Souls of the Vermilion Sea, Bluebird Man, and Scavenger Hunt.

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    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    POSTER ART - 11x14" print of an original poster design for Souls of the Vermilion Sea created by talented graphic artist Sarah Walsh. Printed on Aurora Natural Fine Art Paper (100% cotton rag, acid-free, matte, heavyweight) with gorgeous Epson archival pigment inksAlso includes a DVD or digital download of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon completion.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    SIGNED BOOK level - The Vaquita is a book by Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky about the world's most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita porpoise. This book provides information on their biology as well has how to help them. Complete with original illustrations and poetry, this book is great for anyone interested in the natural world. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion.

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    Pledge $79 or more About $79

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 1 - Limited Edition 5 X 7 linocut prints of Vaquita, each hand-pulled (printed) by biologist/artist Gena Bentall. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion.

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    Pledge $129 or more About $129

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 3 - Limited edition prints of original Vaquita art created specifically for this campaign by Boise artist Nicolet Laurson. Also includes a DVD or digital download of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon completion.

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    Pledge $159 or more About $159

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 2 -11 X14 matted colored vaquita drawing by Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky. Author of the book, The Vaquita. This level also includes a digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon it's completion.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    BEAT-BOXING with WILDLIFE level! - Spend one hour learning about beat-boxing, the use of bird song in music, and music recording and composition with Ben Mirin of "The Birds and the Beats". This will be a one-hour Skype session with Ben. Also includes digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea (shipping time separate from Skype session timing, which will be based upon availability).

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    Pledge $279 or more About $279

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 4 - Receive a one-of-a-kind 9X12" matted watercolor from Emily Underwood, illustrator for Wild Hope Magazine. (1) Limited Edition created for this campaign. This level also includes a digital download or hard copy (DVD) of Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    CHAT WITH THE FILMMAKERS level - A one hour Skype conversation with Director/Producer Sean Bogle and Producer Matthew Podolsky. We'll chat about filmmaking, wildlife conservation, and what it's like to work with a species on the brink of extinction. (Or anything else you'd like to chat about!) Also includes digital download or DVD of Souls of the Vermilion Sea (shipping separately - Skype call timing based upon availability).

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    Pledge $349 or more About $349

    Desert Porpoise level - A ‘Thank You’ on-screen credit at the end of Souls of the Vermillion Sea (Delivery date is an estimate and will be contingent on the completion of the film). This level also includes a digital download or hard copy (DVD) of Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

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    Pledge $379 or more About $379

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 5 - Very special Vaquita art print (in B&W) created by Vaquita biologist and expert Barbara Taylor - she's also a talented artist! 9x12" print on rice paper.

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    Pledge $429 or more About $429

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 6 - Very special Vaquita art print (in Color!) created by Vaquita biologist and expert Barbara Taylor - she's also a talented artist! 9x12" print on rice paper.

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    Pledge $479 or more About $479

    ORIGINAL ARTWORK level 7 - Acrylic on wood vaquita painting from Wild Lens board member and talented artist Erin Strasser. Final painting will include a handmade, custom frame. Also includes a DVD or digital download of Souls of the Vermilion Sea upon completion.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    SPONSOR A BOAT level - Each contribution at this level will allow our filmmakers charter a boat to film in the Sea of Cortez to capture the vaquita recovery efforts. We'll send you a series of behind-the-scenes production stills - printed and signed by the filmmakers - from the boat trip that you sponsor. This level includes everything from the VAQUITA level.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    WILDLIFE FILMMAKING WORKSHOP level - a private one day workshop in wildlife filmmaking from either Sean Bogle or Matthew Podolsky (depending on your location - Sean is located in Northern California, Matthew in Boise, Idaho). Matthew or Sean will spend all day out in the field going through a wide variety of storytelling and production techniques - this will be tailored to the individual interests of the donor. Travel expenses to get to Idaho or N. California not included. Also includes DVD or digital download of Souls of the Vermilion Sea (shipping separately - timing of filmmaking workshop dependent on availability)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    SPONSOR A FLIGHT level - Each contribution at this level will allow our filmmakers to make one trip to gather aerial footage of the Sea of Cortez, dramatically improving our effort to tell this important story. We'll send you a series of behind-the-scenes production stills - printed and signed by the filmmakers - from the flight that you sponsor. Includes everything from the VAQUITA level.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER level - An on-screen Associate Producer credit in Souls of the Vermilion Sea, on IMDB, and the Vaquita website. You'll have the opportunity to view early cuts of the film and provide feedback throughout post-production. Includes everything from the VAQUITA reward level.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER level - An on-screen Executive Producer credit in Souls of the Vermilion Sea, on IMDB, and the Vaquita website. You'll have the opportunity to view early cuts of the film and provide feedback throughout post-production. We'll also fly you to our post-production location (Idaho or California - we're not sure yet!) where you will get to attend a private screening with the filmmakers and spend the weekend getting to know us and providing feedback on the film. Includes everything from the VAQUITA reward level.

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Funding period

- (29 days)