Final Evaluation Report Print E-mail
Project Documentation - Phase I - 2007 to 2009
Written by Andrew Stevenson   
Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:15

Final Evaluation Report:

Dates Covered by this report: February 2007 to December 2010


Total Operating Budget over three years: $341,531.91



Purpose of Grant:

To make a 30-minute high definition film documentary about Bermuda's marine environment with particular emphasis on the North Atlantic Humpback Whales. The original Project Proposal can be found on the website www.whalesbermuda.com under the top menu link entitled "About the Project".

Outcomes:

60-minute documentary "Where the Whales Sing".


Despite the inherent difficulties filming wild animals underwater in the open ocean, we obtained scores of hours of footage including unique close-up footage of fully-grown humpback whales. Besides filming in Bermuda, I also filmed two seasons/three weeks on the humpbacks' breeding grounds on the Silver Bank, 80 miles offshore Dominican Republic. I also filmed the humpbacks over two seasons in their feeding grounds in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.


The completed one-hour documentary film, "Where the Whales Sing" was shown on schedule, on March 11th 2010 to donors and supporters at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). It was screened three times the following week at the Bermuda International Film Festival.



Within a month of completing the film, "Where the Whales Sing" has already had numerous public screenings at BUEI, Speciality Theatre, Bermuda College and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. At each screening the venue was standing room only. Upcoming screenings in September include the Bermuda College, for government schoolteachers, and another at Bermuda College for all home school students, their teachers and parents. The final documentary has been shown to assemblies at three of Bermuda's schools with other requests coming in as schools find out about the availability of the documentary. The majority of requests to screen the film and give personal presentations are likely to occur in the upcoming school year 2010-2011.


Three and a half minutes of underwater footage are on the wall screen behind the immigration officers at the arrival hall of L.F. Wade International Airport.


Besides the completed documentary, there were two other related outcomes: (1) Educational Outreach and (2) Research.



Educational Outreach


Over the course of the three years making the film, I gave dozens of personal presentations to audiences. A ten-minute short "Sleeping with Whales" was shown numerous times in 2008 and 2009 at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Insititute (BUEI), Bermuda International Film Festival, several schools, and regularly on the broadcast station CITV. I also gave PowerPoint presentations to the public at BUEI and the Aquarium as well as the English Speaking Union, the Garden Club of Bermuda, Kaleidoscope Art Gallery, Rotary Club, International Women's Club and other clubs, schools and private homes. Parts of the documentary were shown at the closing ceremony at the Bermuda Zoological Society's Environmental Youth Conference where I was invited to give the ‘Power of One' keynote speech.


Over the past three years I have spoken in person to over 2,000 of Bermuda's students at their schools. I have also spoken at after school programmes at BUEI and other youth organizations. I hope that in the future one of these young students will be inspired by this work, undertake the research and data we have collected, and take it several steps further to the level of a postgraduate degree.


Over the past three years there have been over a dozen articles in the RG Magazine, Bermuda.com and Preview magazines, including front covers, as well as plenty of coverage in the Royal Gazette. These articles have been instructive about our marine environment and humpback whales and have reached a large audience.


The website www.whalesbermuda.com has benefited from over 200 hours of donated ICT services. It has had over 300,000 hits since it's launch in February 2008. My YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/awstevenson - has had almost the same number of hits or views. The project's Facebook group - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=87144946918 - has also served to increase our public profile.


DVDs of "Where the Whales Sing" were made available to the public on 24th June, 2010. Two copies of the film will be donated to every school and public library in Bermuda.



Research


Bermuda's uniqueness as a mid-ocean platform providing a window into the migratory social behaviour of humpbacks cannot be overemphasized. There is a tremendous amount of international interest in this project. It is an exceptional opportunity for Bermuda school children to be at the leading edge of scientific discovery. Making this project even more special is the charismatic nature of the humpbacks. Many children easily relate to whales and other marine mammals and the humpbacks provide an ideal introduction to marine science and environmental issues.


Over the past four seasons I have spent about 1,000 hours on the water observing the North Atlantic humpback whales. We have obtained over 350 individual fluke ids in Bermuda alone. That is more than double the total of 146 fluke ids taken here in Bermuda by visiting scientists and local residents from 1968 to 2006. These have been meticulously catalogued, including all matches, and integrated with Allied Whale's North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue. About half of our fluke ids have been matched to the larger North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue and about half are ‘new' whales never sighted before. We have data sheets detailing every aspect of each trip and each whale sighting including: date, time, location, number of whales in a group, activity and any other observable patterns. All this data has been cross-referenced on a spreadsheet to facilitate intra-year and year-to-year comparisons. This is a hugely time-intensive exercise and each hour on the water takes multiple hours sorting through the data and cataloguing it.


We also have meticulously recorded the humpbacks on hydrophones and logged these recordings by cross-referencing to the daily data sheet.

 

Two poster presentations co-authored with College of the Atlantic for the biennial meeting of the Society of Marine Mammology in October 2009 in Quebec City, Canada were based on these findings. These poster presentations are included in the www.whalesbermuda.com diary entry entitled 'Presentation to Biennial Meeting of the Society for Marine Mammology' dated 12th October, 2010. More details on the research methodology, and a summary of our research findings can be found in the diary entry entitled 'Some statistics and observations of humpback whales around Bermuda the last three years' dated 8th of October, 2009.


Unexpected Delays or Problems:


We had to replace the high definition underwater video camera in our second season. We also had to retrieve the edited footage (the master clips were backed up multiple times) after the external RAID drive used for editing crashed. One unforeseen demand on my time was the unexpected, but welcome, arrival of another baby daughter half way through the project. One aspect that I had guessed at, but didn't fully realize, is how important the information on the mid-ocean migratory social behavior of the humpbacks we collected would be, and how much time it would consume analyzing the data.


Financial Report

Original total budget from Feb 2007-December 2009       $357,000.00

Final budget income from Feb 2007-end of April 2010     $341,531.91

Funds in account end of April 2010                                   $68.00

Note: All budget and financial reports exclude the hundreds of hours of work donated by volunteers who assisted me throughout the project. Also excluded are all other in-kind donations of goods and services.

 

 
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