Private Film Screening – Finding 52
December 18, 2020
6:30 pm Film Showing
8:00 pm Q&A with the Director via Zoom
Attendees joined us for a special screening of Finding 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World and a post-film Q&A with the director, Joshua Zeman. This private screening was available only to New Bedford Whaling Museum Members and a limited group of funders of the film.
Finding 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World is a cinematic quest to find the “52 Hertz Whale,” which scientists believe has spent its entire life in solitude, calling out at a frequency that is different from any other whale.
The story begins in 1989, when a secret underwater surveillance system created by the US Navy to track enemy submarines during the Cold War, picked up a mysterious 52 Hz frequency in the Pacific Ocean. Unable to determine its source, the Navy sent a recording to Dr. William Watkins of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for analysis.
After months of study, Dr. Watkins concluded this strange signal belonged to one single whale who was calling out a frequency no other whale could understand. Watkins theorized this unique creature was either the first of its kind, the last of its kind, or a whale with a malformation in its call, resulting in its inability to find a mate or form a bond with any of his species. Watkins would spend the next 12 years tracking the Whale, whom he nicknamed “52,” until his death in 2004.
As we embark on this engrossing journey, we will explore what 52’s story can teach us — not just about our changing relationship to the oceans, but to each other. The themes of isolation and loneliness explored in the film have taken on a new urgency in light of the pandemic that separates us all. The plight of this lonely whale helps us to address the challenges we are all facing, together alone.
Explore the Watkins Marine Mammal Sound Database
Dive deeper into the world of Dr. William Watkins with Voices of Marine Mammals
Learn more about William Watkins and William Schevill, pioneers in marine mammal bioacoustics.