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The Stars of Whales

bigImage Humpback Whale, Scientific Name: Megaptera novaeangliae
A baleen whale, the Humpback is a member of the Balaenopteridae family. This family also has a common name, the rorquals. A distinguishing characteristic of the Humpback Whale is its extremely long flippers. Males produce the longest songs in the animal world--songs that are slowly changed over time. Humpback males average 48 ft. in length, while females are usually a few feet longer. The weight range for both sexes is approximately 34-45 tons. Calves are approximately 15 ft. at birth and weigh 1.5 tons. The color of Humpbacks is almost black, with white in the area of the throat grooves. Found in oceans throughout the world, the total Humbpack Whale population is estimated at about 25,000 individuals.

bigImage Beluga ("White") Whale, Scientific Name: Delphinapterus leucas
The Beluga, or White Whale makes its home in the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean and adjoining seas, such as the Sea of Okhotsk, Hudson Bay, and the Bering Sea. Beluga males average 14 ft. in length and weigh approximately 1,400 lbs. at maturity. Females usually reach 13 ft. and weigh considerably less-- about 900 lbs. Calves are about 4 ft. at birth, weighing in at about 100 lbs. Belugas are not born white. Calves are gray for the first year, with pigment leaving the skin after about 6 years. Even then, there may be small pigment traces on the edges of the flippers and tail flukes. These whales have a total of 32 to 40 small teeth and have no dorsal fin. However, they do have a remarkable abilility to make sounds, which lead some early mariners to call Belugas "sea canaries".

bigImage Blue Whale, Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus
Long and streamlined, the Blue Whale is the largest animal ever to appear on earth. This colossus of the deep has been reported to reach over 100 ft. in length and weigh up to 160 tons. The average weight range for both sexes is about 90-144 tons. Calves, born in April or May, are 20 to 23 ft. at birth, weighing in around 8 tons. The Blue Whale is a plankton feeder and its appetite is enormous. Marine biologists estimate this creature can eat 4 tons of its favorite planktonic crustaceans a day. Heavily hunted, the population of Blue Whales has dramatically decreased over the last 60 years. The species is almost extinct in the eastern North Atlantic and total estimates put the worldwide number somewhere between 7,000 and 13,000.

bigImage Orcas, Scientific Name: Orcinus orca
One of the species of toothed whales that include Sperm Whales and Narwhals, Orcas are the most widely distributed of all the earth's mammals. The fast-swimming Orca is generally considered to be the most feared of all the ocean predators, though documented attacks on humans are very rare. A medium-length cetacean, the Orca's teeth more than make up for any lack of size. In adults, they may be almost 5 inches long, curving inwards and backwards. The teeth also interlock when the jaws close. Orcas are heavily-bodied, with a round head, a tall, triangular dorsal fin, and abnormally large flippers, which sometimes grow to 20 percent of body length. At birth, calves are usually about 8 ft. The adult male Orca grows to about 27 ft. (maximum 32 ft.), while the female reaches an average of about 23 ft. (maximum 28ft.). As for color, Orcas are basically black above, with a sharply defined white underside. A dramatic white spot appears above the eye. The Orca social unit is the pod, an extended family of 5-20 members. Fish, squid, skates, sharks, seals, sea lions, sea otters and other whales are among their principal foods. Orcas also produce a range of distinctive calls, some of which are specific to particular pods. There are no current reliable Orca population estimates.

bigImage Right Whale, Scientific Name: Balaena glacialis
A baleen whale, scientists consider the Right to be the most endangered of all whale species. In fact, the current worldwide total is estimated to be about 1,000 individuals. Large and a slow swimmer, the Right Whale's body is so rich in oil, it floats when dead (unlike the rorquals which have to be inflated to prevent them from sinking). This fact, coupled with its very high quality baleen, made it the "right" whale to hunt. The length of Right Whales averages about 50 ft. for both sexes. Adults weigh approximately 60 tons. It takes about 5 to 8 years for a female to reach sexual maturity and their 16-19 ft. calves are usually born only every three years. The body of the Right Whale is somewhat rotund and lacks a dorsal fin. Its head is very large, about 25 percent of total body length in an adult, with an upper jaw that contains many baleen plates. These filtering plates, as much as 7 ft. long, are surpassed in length only by baleen of the Bowhead Whale. Current Right Whale population distribution is concentrated in Newfoundland, Patagonia, Tristan da Cunha, South Africa, New Zealand, Western and Eastern Australia, Japan and Alaska.

bigImage Patrick Stewart, Narrator
Perhaps best known in the U.S. for his role as the popular character Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, actor Patrick Stewart has had a long and distinguished career in theater, film, and television. Stewart's professional stage debut was in 1959. He played Morgan the Pirate in a production of Treasure Island at England's Theatre Royal. From then until 1962 he traveled England gaining experience as an actor, which led to a 1963-64 world tour with London's Old Vic company in a troupe led by Vivian Leigh. Stewart had his first appearance with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1966 in a production of The Revenger's Tragedy. In more than 25 years with the RSC, he played roles including an award-winning stint as Enobarbus in Anthony & Cleopatra. His one-man version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has played to full houses on Broadway for three years and has won a New York Theater Critics' Drama Desk Award and the Laurence Olivier Best Entertainment Award. Stewart has been a teacher of drama for many years through his involvement with ACTER (Alliance for Creative Theater, Education, and Research), a program that brings drama to life for college students. His writings on theater include a piece in Titus Andronicus in Prefaces to Shakespeare, and an essay on Shylock in Players of Shakespeare, volume 1. Stewart's film credits include Excaliber, Lifeforce, Dune, and Lady Jane; cameo roles in LA Story and Robin Hood: Men in Tights; and recent leading roles in Jeffrey, Star Trek: Generation, and Let it Be Me.

bigImage Dr. Roger Payne, Writer/Director/Whale Researcher
Dr. Roger Payne is best known for his discovery (with Scott McVay) that Humpback whales sing songs, and for his theory that the sounds of fin and blue whales can be heard across oceans. He has studied the behavior of whales since 1967 and is founder and President of the Whale Conservation Institute. His BA degree is from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. from Cornell. He has led over 100 expeditions to all oceans and studied every species of large whale in the wild. He pioneered many of the benign research techniques now used throughout the world to study free-swimming whales, and has trained many of the current leaders in whale research, both in America and abroad. He directs long term research projects on the songs of Humpback whales, and on the behavior of 1300 individually known Argentine Right whales - the longest such continuous study. He is a writer and presenter for television documentaries, and co-writer of the IMAX film Whales - a co-production of The National Wildlife Federation, Destination Cinema, and Zephyr Productions (Payne's company). Much of the material in this film is based on experiences from Payne's life. Payne's honors and awards, include: a knighthood in the Netherlands, a MacArthur Fellowship (a $250,000 prize) the similar Lyndhurst Prize Fellowship ($120,000), the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal of the Humane Society of the U.S., The Albert Schweitzer Medal of the Animal Welfare Institute, and a UNEP, "Global 500" Award. His films and CD-ROM on whales, have received awards that include two Cable Ace awards, a Cable Ace nomination, an Emmy nomination and a Golden Eagle award. His hour-long interview with Charlie Rose also won the 1994 Emmy for Best Interview.

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Whales: Blue whales Real 300 k

Whales: Humpback Real 300 K

Whales: Odyssey Real 300 k

Whales: Trailer Real 300 K

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Produced by National Wildlife Federation, Destination Cinema and Zephyr Productions. Major funding provided by the National Wildlife Federation Endowment and by the National Science Foundation. Producers: Christopher Palmer, David Clark. Directors: David Clark, Al Giddings, and Dr. Roger Payne. Distributed by National Geographic Giant Screen Films. Japanese Distributor: Cinema Japan Co., Ltd. Executive Produced by Richard James. Editor: James Lahti. Writers: Dr. Roger Payne, Mose Taylor, and Dr. Leighton Taylor. Narrated by Patrick Stewart. Composer: Sam Cardin, with feature song by Yanni.


BMZ Reviews:

Giants of the Ocean By Ross Anthony

Outside Reviews:

"Whales have big hearts in more ways than one" By George O. Singleton, Reel Movie

"Whales" By Kevin L. Campbell, Newcity Net

"Swimming with 'Whales'" By Stan Urankar, Sun Newspapers

"'Whales' has own identity" By Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle

"Latest IMAX film is a visual feast" By Allen Howie, Louisville Scene

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BMZ User Reviews

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Rating: Excellent
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