Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Big Miracle' chronicles October 1988: When the world worked together to help the whales

Last week the sighting of a great gray owl perched in a tree on the edge of a soybean field in southern Ontario attracted thousands of spectators. Not just local folks and birders. There were people from all walks of life and several distances away -- including Toronto, London and Detroit -- who made the trek to see the owl.

Why would anyone travel hundreds of miles to see a bird or, say, a whale? 

Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures.
They're unique.

The great gray owls are ginormous birds -- rarely seen south of the Arctic's Tundra -- and the Ontario sighting served as a rare opportunity to see one up close. 

Yet, it is not only our differences that cause us to take notice of them. Animals also are a lot like us in the way that they care for their young and socialize. They can be as brave as a lion or as frightened as a mouse. It's been proved that dolphins and whales are highly sentient beings, with complex social structures and family bonds. They are self-aware, they use language - complete with different dialects based on locality and family bonds -and they pass their culture on from one generation to the next, according to an article by Reuters. 

Most of all, animals are as vulnerable to nature as we are.

It's these similarities that move us to intervene on their behalf.

Drew Barrymore
Universal Pictures' Big Miracle, due in theaters Feb. 3, is a great example.
It's the true story of a small-town news reporter (John Krasinski) and an animal-loving volunteer (Drew Barrymore) who are joined by rival world superpowers to save three California gray whales who were trapped for several days in the thickening ice off the Alaskan coast.

As the synopsis goes, "local newsman Adam Carlson (Krasinski) can't wait to escape the northern tip of Alaska for a bigger market. But just when the story of his career breaks, the world comes chasing it, too. With an oil tycoon, heads of state and hungry journalists descending upon the frigid outpost, the one who worries Adam the most is Rachel Kramer (Barrymore). Not only is she an outspoken environmentalist, she's also his ex-girlfriend.
With time running out, Rachel and Adam must rally an unlikely coalition of Inuit natives, oil companies and Russian and American military to set aside their differences and free the whales. As the world's attention turns to the top of the globe, saving these endangered animals becomes a shared cause for nations entrenched against one another and leads to a momentary thaw in the Cold War."

John Krasinski and Ahmaogak Sweeney in "Big Miracle."
The film also stars Kristen Bell (Jill Jerard), Dermot Mulroney (Colonel Scott Boyer), Ted Danson (J.W. McGraw) and newcomer Ahmaogak Sweeney (Nathan), 11, of Anchorage, Alaska, who got the call that he had won the role while attending his fifth-grade class at Bear Valley Elementary School.

To help illustrate our fascination with whales, Universal Pictures has launched a new infographic site Everybody Loves Whales. Audiences of all ages can learn not only about whales, but the heartwarming tale that captured the hearts of people all over the world.
There's also a contest running on Pinterest.com. To find out how you can Pin to Win, visit Big Miracle Sweepstakes

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever -- Jacques-Yves Cousteau. 

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