Saturday, 21 March 2015

WhaleFest 2015 - Happy 1 Year Anniversary Follow Free Morgan!

It has been a year since our little Morgan started off on her adventures. In that time she has travelled all over, from the states of Hawaii and Connecticut in the US, to Portugal, Panama, Iceland, Baffin Island and the Azores to name a few. She has watched humpback whales, bowhead whales, narwhal, minke whales, fin whales, blue whales, Risso’s dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, harbour porpoise, common dolphins, Cuvier’s beaked whales and even some of her own kin, orca. She has petitioned against keeping cetaceans in captivity, learnt how to be a marine mammal observer, attended a vigil for Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin’s and even gone diving. 

Now a year on and she was back where it all started, in Brighton for WhaleFest 2015. This time at held the Brighton Centre with wonderful panoramic views of sea and beach, and the emotionally charged WCA Whale Graveyard. The installation set on Brighton beach, just in front of the Brighton Centre, comprised over 5,000 crosses each bearing the name of a whale or dolphin that has died in captivity, set in the shape of a mother and baby orca. After all the rush of setting up and getting ready with the other volunteers for WhaleFest 2015, our little Morgan took a moment with a setting sun to reflect on the meaning of this display and hope that it is not the future for her namesake Morgan held in Loro Parque, and for all the other orca currently held in captivity. For them our little Morgan hopes for a better solution of retirement and for some perhaps even release back to the wild. 

The WCA Whale Graveyard

Then it was time for the festival itself, bringing back many of the aspects Morgan enjoyed last year from Virtual Whale Watching, Science and Campaign talks from some of the most prominent researchers and campaigners in the whale and dolphin, experts and artefacts including the amazing narwhal tusk, a submarine dome experience and stalls from hundreds of charities and whale watching companies from around the world. Once again the amazing Main Stage included talks from inspirational people like Gordon Buchanan, Monty Halls, Ric O’Barry, Will Travers, Steve Backshall, Michela Strachan and John Hargrove. Surrounded on all sides by inflatable life sized whales and dolphins. Interspersed with their talks were passionate volunteers talking about a particular species of whale or dolphin. There was face painting, pottery painting, arts and crafts, a whole zone dedicated to sharks, yes its WhaleFest but all such creatures play an important role in our oceans ecosystem and all need protecting. Here you could wander up close to life sized sharks and even explore a cave. There were sea shanty’s being sung and people everywhere! The whole event was bigger and better than last year, with thousands of people coming through the doors and being inspired about whales, dolphins and our oceans. For those who could not attend the event there was the Live Lounge, streaming interviews with celebs, campaigners and researchers to a wider audience through the internet. 

Loving the Sea Shanties

Once more the whole event was run not for profit, with money raised going to the World Cetacean Alliance and its campaigns. As well as generous donations collected over the weekend there was an auction of amazing, once in a life time experiences kindly donated by WCA partners, including trips kayaking with orca in Canada and whale watching in Baja, California. On top of this were the amazing Whale Tails, one for every orca currently in captivity and painted by local artists with their wild soul. Signed by such people like Steve Backshall, John Hargrove, Will Travers and Jean Michel Cousteau each was then auctioned off with the money going to the Wild and Free campaign. 

The amazing Whale Tails

Once more our little Morgan was inspired by the passion of those around her, yes by the big names bringing and sharing their experiences and knowledge to a wide audience, but more so by the hundreds of volunteers who had given their time, energy and effort to make the whole event a reality. It is they who inspire our little Morgan the most. 

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