Review: Ocean Voyagers (2007)

Ocean Voyagers (2007)

Directed by: Joe Kennedy, Feodor Pitcairn | 72 minutes | documentary

The humpback whale is at the same time one of the most imposing and charismatic animals on our planet today. With a maximum length of over seventeen meters and a weight of twenty-five to thirty tons, adult humpback whales are true ocean giants. In addition, these whales are avid travelers. They have to travel thousands of kilometers every year when they exchange their warm native soils for the cold, but nutrient-rich waters of the north or deep south.

It is therefore quite a challenge to adequately capture humpback whales on the sensitive plate. In the past, the humpback whale has been the focus of various nature films on several occasions, so that ‘Ocean Voyagers’ cannot immediately be called a groundbreaking production thematically. Nevertheless, the work of the various camera teams has ultimately resulted in a breathtaking masterpiece. From the very beginning, the viewer is taken to the crystal-clear, azure blue depths of the tropical oceans, wondrous underwater paradises that serve as nurseries in which young humpback whales make their first fin strokes to adulthood. The film focuses mainly on the caring humpback mother Mara and her son Kell, a baby whale that is already a decent size at five meters. What follows is an intimate portrait of the whale mother and the calf she cherished. In particular, Kell’s playful disposition is beautifully portrayed. With swift swimming strokes he gracefully dances around his mother, demonstrating his vibrant zest for life by hitting the surface of the water with his pectoral fins or by making a big jump that makes him tower above the water surface. In any case, it is striking to see how gracefully the massive whales move in the water. The images are regularly accompanied by the characteristic singing of the male humpback whales, sounds captured using the most ingenious recording equipment. The song of the humpback whale begins with simple notes, which gradually swell into themes and eventually develop into complex songs. It is likely that males use the songs to attract willing females or outdo rivals.

‘Ocean Voyagers’ also briefly discusses the dangers that still threaten the humpback whales in our time. For example, trawls are potentially deadly traps even for these sea giants. Fortunately, commercial whaling, which has historically been responsible for the decimation of the worldwide whale population, has been banned since 1986. However, countries such as Japan, Iceland and Norway still obstinately hold on to the right to capture whales (especially minke whales) for scientific purposes. However, according to many experts, this is a facade to disguise the true purposes of the hunt. The meat of the killed whales is simply sold on markets in Japan and Iceland.

‘Ocean Voyagers’ is a magnificent, warm documentary that offers us a unique insight into the wonderful underwater world of the enigmatic humpback whale. A powerful film document that shows that we should never squander certain natural treasures.

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