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!
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.
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.
Make a pledge to this campaign and join our effort to save the vaquita from extinction!
$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.
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 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)
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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