The Southern resident killer whales have fans all over the globe – including activist Alex Johnstone and “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams, both from the United Kingdom.
Friends Johnston and Williams are hoping to bring awareness to the orcas’ plight with a documentary titled “Searching for Chinook,” and are asking for the community’s help to fund it.
“As a longtime marine lover and activist, combined with over watching ‘Free Willy’ as a child, the Southern resident orca have always had a special place in my heart,” said Johnston, who works in the film industry. “Being based in the United Kingdom meant that having the opportunity to visit them wasn’t the easiest, but finally through my work with Dolphin Project, in the summer of 2016, I spent my 27th birthday at Superpod.”
Superpod is an annual event on San Juan Island that gathers activists, filmmakers, scientists and more to learn about the killer whales of the Salish Sea. While at Superpod, Johnston said she learned about the depleting Chinook salmon and the struggles of the orcas. She and Williams have both been vocal about their love for cetaceans, she said, and have been advocates for them since.
“After making the most amazing memories together on San Juan Island, we both knew the residents needed a platform on which their story could be told to its fullest,” Johnston said. “The idea for ‘Searching For Chinook’ had been with me for a while, but after seeing them it became a true passion project and my focus to find a way to help them. This is the story of a family and we felt it was important for people to see that.”
Johnston said she hopes the documentary brings much-needed awareness to the Southern residents. She said she would like to get the orcas back to being a thriving community – instead of just surviving.
“We believe problems with marine life are a global issue and hope by working alongside some dedicated and amazing researchers and advocates we hope to show people all the ways in which they can help make a difference,” Johnstone said.
The duo created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their documentary production. As of May 22, it had surpassed its goal of $13,420 by more than $1,000 and is open for contributions until June 4.
“We created the Kickstarter to give people an opportunity to really get involved on a personal level with the project. No matter who you are or what financial position you are in, creating a project is never easy,” Johnston said. “We have poured our own finances into this to ensure our dream becomes a reality, but we have also been blown away by the continued support shown to the project.”
For more information and to donate, visit kck.st/2khuEWo.