It's a Pacific Life for Humpback Whales

When the news hit that a gray whale was found tangled in rope and laboring to swim in 60 feet of water off the Dana Point Headlands shortly after noon on March 16, I knew for certain that at least a couple of thousand Orange Countians shook their heads and sighed.

That's because they had all joined me a few weeks earlier for friends and family screenings in the Irvine Spectrum IMAX theater of Humpback Whales, the latest large-format movie from MacGillivray Freeman Films of Laguna Beach.

The most dramatic part of the otherwise-upbeat documentary involved a massive humpback tethered to a long line and buoys. Fortunately, there were happy endings for the whales onscreen and off our coast. In both cases, that was thanks to human volunteers who literally dive into the dangerous task of freeing giant mammals from ropes, fishing nets and other debris—a service that is in ever more demand as more junk and overfishing infect our waters, Humpback Whales narrator Ewan McGregor informs us.

It was director Greg MacGillivray doing the informing before and after the screening, noting that protecting whales, other sea life and the sea itself is a goal of MacGillivray Freeman Films' One World One Ocean campaign, launched in the spring of 2012.

The multiplatform media campaign kicked off with another excellent MacGillivray Freeman documentary, To the Arctic 3D, which was narrated by Meryl Streep and debuted that April. The campaign continues with Humpback Whales, which is co-presented by Newport Beach-based Pacific Life, the insurance company known for its iconic image of a leaping whale crashing into the water. It is now playing at Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, opening July 3 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles and returning at a date to be determined to the Irvine Spectrum IMAX.

At the screening I attended, MacGillivray explained to the crowd that there had been two Irvine IMAX presentations of Humpback Whales to Santa Ana schoolchildren that same morning, and all had promised him they would grow up to be marine biologists. It's easy to see the allure when you gaze at footage of the majestic sea creatures that makes it seem as if you are underwater with them.

Speaking of teaching moments, not to be missed are the scenes of mama humpbacks instructing their offspring on making the above-surface splashes that helps Pacific Life push its insurance policies. Talk about the ultimate product placement!

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