what we learned at whalefest
I attended the fantastic event that is WhaleFest with our Sales Manager, Arabella the weekend of 14/15 March 2015, and some of the sales team also went along on Sunday.
WhaleFest is the biggest event of its kind in the world designed to give whales and dolphins a more powerful voice. Its vision is for everyone to only experience whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) in the wild – roaming free as nature intended and for there to be an end to these animals in any kind of captivity, or tanks. Following our interview with WhaleFest co-founder, Ian Rowlands, I was excited about attending.
The event saw 10,000 people through the doors over the weekend and was already buzzing when I arrived around around 10.30am on Saturday morning. Alongside a full schedule of fascinating talks, some from high profile whale and natural world specialists, there were exhibitors, including marine experience providers, conservation organisations, educational projects and campaign initiatives, a Shark Zone, a virtual reality whale watching experience, a kid’s area, a chill out zone and much more. It was a well thought out and planned event with something for everyone – just as well as the attendees spanned a diverse demographic. Some people had obviously travelled from far and wide to attend the event and they were not disappointed.
It was fantastic to see so much support for the event and the wildlife it is trying to protect.
Some of the highlights included meeting wildlife documentary maker, Gordon Buchanan and Monty Halls, whose talents include: broadcaster, speaker, naturalist, formal Royal Marine, marine biologist, travel writer and leadership specialist! We also loved spending time with the BBC Wildlife magazine guys and meeting lots of other great people who are working with and passionate about cetaceans and the marine world.
One of the talks I managed to watch featured John Hargrove. He was one of the key SeaWorld trainers featured in the documentary Blackfish – a highly emotive account about orcas at SeaWorld and the tragic story behind their lives in ‘dolphinaria’ a collective term used to describe these places of captivity. John now campaigns to have the captive killer whales released and he was presenting his ‘story’.
It’s obviously a controversial topic for good reason. The story of the misery of these animals in the tanks of SeaWorld and the behaviours they exhibited including sadness, frustration and grief, is pretty heartbreaking. But what does the future hold for these places that are generally run by profit making organisations that don’t understand (or seemingly care) about the animals they retain and train to perform for the public?