Posted on: February 10, 2011

Join Us at An Evening With the Experts, on Sat. Feb. 12

Astounding whale movies and unforgettable slideshows will be part of the presentations by renowned whale photographers, researchers and others, during "An Evening With the Experts" on Saturday, February 12. The presentation is from 5:30 – 8:30 pm at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Kaanapali, and is free and open to the public, however advance reservations are recommended.

“The experts presenting are each outstanding in their chosen field,” said Greg Kaufman, founder and chief scientist at Pacific Whale Foundation, who will serve as emcee of the evening. “The underwater high definition photos from Bryant Austin are mesmerizing and his work to stop whaling is inspirational. Dr. Ari Friedlaender’s state-of-the art humpback whale research using non-invasive suction cup tags is groundbreaking and has given us a new perspective on what whales do underwater, and the work C.T. Ryder did with Ric O’Barry on the Academy Award winning film THE COVE alerted the world to one of the saddest tragedies happening in our oceans today. This is an evening not to miss.”

Bryant Austin. Austin creates high-resolution, life-size photographs of endangered whale species. His current body of work represents the largest, most detailed photographs of whales in the world. Devoting up to three months at a time with specific whale populations, Austin seeks out inquisitive and accepting individual whales. Using only a snorkel he photographs them at distances less than six feet. Working this intimately with fifty to one hundred ton subjects is a delicate process dictated on the terms set by the whale; Austin’s success is dependent upon the relationship he builds with his willing subject.

At great personal sacrifice, Austin sold everything he owned to fund his fieldwork and pursue his dream of documenting endangered whales.  Through the process Austin realized he had created a precious gift that should be shared with the world: to-scale archival photographs that represent the true nature of a whale.  In addition to exhibiting in the United States, Europe, and South America, his body of work has been shown throughout Norway and recently in Tokyo, Japan.

“The pivotal impact I seek is to upset the abstractness of whales; my aim is to make them real. In popular media we experience whales through small photographs and brief video clips which fail to convey their existence in anything more than an infrequent, pale, and abstract way. My goal is to present their true size with all of the intricate detail and texture revealed, providing an immediacy and sensorial reality for powerful psychological impact. The audience will have the ability to witness the amazing size of the whale, yet see the intricate detail of the body, in particular the whale’s eye with its evident consciousness and emotion,” said Bryant Austin.

Dr. Ari S. Friedlaender. Friedlaender is a research scientist at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina.  Friedlaender received a Master’s in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington studying bottlenose dolphin conservation strategies in North Carolina. He then completed his Ph.D. at Duke University studying the spatial ecology and foraging behavior of humpback and minke whales in Antarctica. Friedlaender’s research focuses on using new and emerging tag and visualization technology to understand the foraging behaviors and underwater movements of humpback whales and other marine mammals.

"Using non-invasive suction cup tags that measure the animals pitch, roll, heading, depth and acceleration, we are able to recreate and measure the myriad of behaviors that humpback whales use to capture their prey,” said Dr. Friedlaender. “The synthesis of tagging and visualization technology now allows us to see below the surface and better understand the complex feeding strategies of humpback whales.”

Dr. Friedlaender has worked on a variety of species in all of the world’s oceans, but specializes in humpback whale foraging behavior and ecology.  The ultimate goal of Friedlaender’s research is to conserve and protect marine mammals and ocean ecosystems, and understanding how whales and dolphins utilize their environment is a first step towards this goal.  Currently, Friedlaender has active research projects in waters around Antarctica, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, Russia, Sri Lanka, the Canadian Arctic and Hawaii.

C.T. Ryder. Ryder is President of Earth Foundation, and a producer/director/writer in film, TV, and music, and will be representing Ric O’Barry - Save Japan’s Dolphins Campaign, and Earth Island Institute. On Maui, Ryder helped promote the movie THE COVE which won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary of 2010. THE COVE featured Ric O’Barry’s heroic efforts to shed light on the cruel and unregulated slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

“Ric is currently working in Japan trying to stop this year’s slaughter,” said Greg Kaufman. “Mr. Ryder will be presenting the latest video clips from Ric’s work, as well as delivering a message from Ric to all who attend.”

Members of the public may also join all the experts the following day, Sunday, February 13, for a two-hour whalewatch cruise departing at 11:30 am from Lahania Harbor. Greg Kaufman and Dr. Daniela Maldini, research director at Pacific Whale Foundation, will also be onboard the whalewatch.

For additional information, to reserve a seat at the presentation or on the whalewatch, readers can call Pacific Whale Foundation at (808) 249-8811 or 1-800-942-5311.

About Pacific Whale Foundation
Pacific Whale Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting whales, dolphins, coral reefs and our planet’s oceans. To learn how you can make a donation to support Pacific Whale Foundation’s research programs, visit www.pacificwhale.org or call 808-249-8811 ext. 1.