With less than 20 hours to go, Adrian Grenier and Joshua Zeman have fulfilled their fundraising goal on Kickstarter to finance the documentary 52: The Search For The Loneliest Whale — thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio who plunked down $50,000 to help the team out. The expedition will now begin this fall, either September or October.
Grenier and Zeman are at $330,000 and climbing after the goal was $300,000. Last night, it didn’t look like they would reach it as they were sitting right around $278,000.
Loneliest Whale will document the quest to find the whale known only as 52, named as such because it has been swimming around in the ocean for years calling out on a frequency of 52 hertz which no other whale can understand. It was first identified in 1989 when the U.S. Navy heard an unusual sound picked up on a network of underwater microphones and figured out it was coming from a single whale. That whale, it is believed, has lived its entire life in solitude yet relentlessly calls out for communication. Sadly, according to marine experts, this whale’s calls will never be heard by others of its species.
Asked if they would help the whale try to communicate with the whale on that frequency, Zeman said, “I don’t think its our place to play frequencies in an effort to communicate with 52 that way. We don’t want to manipulate his world in any way, or give false hope.”
“Our goal is to tag the 52 with non-invasive tags, and acoustically monitor him. Scientists believe 52 is most probably a hybrid, so this is the first time anyone has every monitored a hybrid which would be a huge value to science,” said Zeman. “If so, it would also be the first time anyone has seen 52, so we would observe him to see if he was, in fact, swimming with a pod or on the periphery, which we hope will help us answer the question of whether he’s really “lonely” or not.
“Lastly we would use this opportunity to tag another low-frequency whales, fins or blues, since we know so little about them, and finally we would use the opportunity to help collect data so that scientists can better measure the growing scourge of ocean noise pollution.”
The two filmmakers took to Kickstarter after being shut out by Worldview Entertainment which committed to financing the documentary with a big announcement at Cannes only to pull out six to eight months later.
DiCaprio made the donation through his Foundation whose mission is to protect the planet and make connections between humanity and the natural world. The funding from the star’s Foundation and more than 3,300 backers “will allow the project to do more with Ocean Preservation and Lonely Whale, and research around marine noise pollution,” according to Kickstarter.
This comes after DiCaprio joined with Appian Way earlier to produce the award-winning feature documentary Virunga which was about protecting mountain gorillas from poachers in the Virunga National Park in the Congo. It was nominated this year for an Academy Award.