A Killer Whale Called Luna Natural World


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A Killer Whale Called Luna

Wildlife documentary following the emotional story of a young killer whale's quest for companionship after being separated from his family.


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Transcript


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I often think it was like a child getting lost in a supermarket.

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He was just wandering up an aisle looking at fish

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and he turned around and his family was gone.

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Then when he went looking for them, no-one was there.

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His family was close, because that's how orcas are.

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It was part of a community of orcas who spend summers

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in the sheltered waters between Canada and the United States

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on the west coast of North America.

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The community is endangered.

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There are fewer than 90 of these orcas left.

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They're starved by a shortage of fish,

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they're poisoned by pollution,

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they're hammered by the noise of machines.

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Bu through it all, they do what they have always done to survive,

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they stick together.

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We humans might call them a huggy family.

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They touch, they play, they co-operate,

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they keep in contact with calls and whistles they can hear for miles.

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Killer whales have social needs that are as strong as those of humans,

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perhaps more so.

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In fact, I think I'd stick my neck out and say

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they really are stronger than humans.

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I'm sure you could damage a whale psychologically

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by depriving it of contact.

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Scientists have been studying these whales for over 40 years.

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They know each of them by markings.

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When this little whale was born, he was given a number - L98 -

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and a nickname - Luna.

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People from both Canada and the United States

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watch these orcas every day and they began to notice that little Luna

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was more independent than other orca babies.

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Some of them are Mama's boys, others are like Luna.

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But he's probably the extreme in terms of just wandering around.

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He's happy with anybody.

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It was the most unusual beginning of a whale life that we had documented.

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It just kept evolving into more unusual...

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Then, when Luna was almost two years old, it happened.

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Hundreds of miles form his family's summer home,

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in the rock canyons of a fjord called Nootka Sound, Luna got lost.

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No one knows why, but suddenly the little whale

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who was happy with anybody found himself in a place

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where he had nobody.

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LUNA CALLS OUT

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Much later, when scientists came to listen with hydrophones,

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they found out that in this solitude, Luna called out every day.

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-LUNA CALLS OUT

-But only the deep rocks answered.

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LUNA CALLS OUT

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My name is Mike Parfit.

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My wife, Suzanne Chisholm, and I came to the town of Gold River

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on the shores of Nootka Sound to write a magazine article.

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It was supposed to be a little story, a curiosity.

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We came for three weeks.

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We stayed a little longer than we expected.

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Three years.

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And it was all because of what Luna decided to do

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when he found himself alone.

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It all started long before we got here,

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near a logging camp in a place called Mooyah Bay.

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A few months after Luna got lost, he started to pop up at boats and docks

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in Mooyah Bay as if to say hello.

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How are you?

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That whale needs and wants and craves attention.

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It was incredibly surreal.

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I remember being amazed that he wanted to see us

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as much as we wanted to see him.

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People responded with a funny combination of awe and disbelief

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and compassion. I think when they saw this little whale,

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they recognised that he needed something.

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We were coming back on Sunday afternoon, it was in Mooyah Bay,

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He just came right up to the boat. He was under the boat

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and he just looked so lonely.

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It just broke your heart, though, to leave him, because, you know,

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he's all alone and he just wants some interaction.

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I mean, that guy would look and bring his eye right there

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and he's looking at you. It wasn't, like, a dog sniffing your leg.

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He was communicating. He would come up and go on his side and

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-look right at you.

-That's not a predator or something,

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that's somebody just wanting to bond. If you look in his eye,

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you know, there's more there than most of my guests.

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-THEY LAUGH

-There really is.

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If Luna was trying to get attention,

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it was working.

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I touched him! Now I've touched him that much!

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You know, you just...

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How can you not touch the whale

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when he comes over there?

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My granddaughter, or my littlest granddaughter,

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"I'm the queen of the whale-touchers!"

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HE CHUCKLES

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'You know, it was a beautiful feeling,

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'communicating with that animal like that.'

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Did he scare you?!

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Don't you bite me!

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Don't you bite me!

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I know, I know.

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Now I...

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Now I've petted him this many times.

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I wonder what he's thinking.

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My heart just goes like this when I get close to his mouth!

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-Oh!

-LAUGHTER

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LUNA SQUEAKS AND WHISTLES

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Are you recording this?

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SHE LAUGHS

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OK, what was that?

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'You always wish that

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'you could communicate with wild animals like that,

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'and when a wild animal comes and...'

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and makes contact with you,

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it's an amazing thing.

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WHALE SONG

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To try to explain all these things that were happening,

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we humans said Luna was lonely and was looking for friendship.

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But friendship is a human idea

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and scientists call it anthropomorphism

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where we use human ideas to describe how animals feel.

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And for years, they've said that's wrong.

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That's one of those words

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that the anthropomorphic police would not let you use

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for long-time, friendships in animals.

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But as scientists have learned more

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about the way humans and animals experience similar emotions,

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some now use words like "friendship" themselves.

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Whales have developed friendships

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and understanding how friends interact with each other

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is great stuff.

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But Lance was talking about friendships between whales.

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This little guy didn't have any whales,

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so he apparently decided

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that if you can't be with the species you are,

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then make friends with the species you're with.

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I'd say personality-wise, he knew what he wanted.

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He seemed somehow spunky, he was lively, he was engaging.

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He was kind of pushy.

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I would say he was a sort of an outside-the-envelope kind of whale.

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It often seems that there's a wall between us humans and wild beings

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built of fear and respect.

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Luna was breaking it down.

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When he pops up and he looks at you,

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you can see...

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I mean, the eyes are the window to the soul.

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Words escape me sometimes.

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You just look at him and he would look at you in the eye

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and you would be mesmerised,

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or something - looked like he's looking right into you.

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You know, the way he regarded you in a fairly studied kind of way

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and in a sort of contemplative way,

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you had the feeling that he knew what he was doing.

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You know, killer whales, they come in all the time, they come up

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and they'll try to scare away from you all the time,

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but for a killer whale to be interested in YOU...

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He just had a way of getting inside of me,

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inside of my head,

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and my heart,

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and it seems like...

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my spirit, or my soul, was dancing.

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Once, we humans thought animals were here just to serve us.

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Once, philosophers said they had no thoughts.

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But today,

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scientists are seeming glimpses of bright awareness in other species.

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Some are even saying that what we share with social animals like orcas

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may be older and stronger than we had ever imagined.

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Through time so deep it gives you vertigo to think about it

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the brains and humans and whales grew large.

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Many scientist think that's because a social life is hard.

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You have to be smart to get along.

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So, in our separate ways,

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both humans and orcas have learned the same thing -

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in solitude we are incomplete, we cannot bear it.

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So maybe when we looked at one another

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across that tide of time that brought us separately to this place,

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we recognised each other's need.

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To Suzanne and me, the process of seeing we call science

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is a powerful way to look at the world,

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because it illuminates old mysteries and brings us new ones every day.

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To us, Luna was part of the grandest of these mysteries -

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a being from the other side of the wall

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who seemed to carry the very thing we think makes us unique -

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the intent, the awareness and the longing of consciousness.

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But there are other ways to see the world.

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For those supernatural creatures in our belief system...

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The people of the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation

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have lived here for over 4,000 years.

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The wolf is one of our most respected creatures on the land.

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His counterpart in the ocean is the orca.

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He's connected with truth and justice.

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Their old chief, Ambrose Maquinna, died the week Luna showed up.

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He had told his friend, Jerry Jack, that he'd come back as an orca.

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"I'm 74," he said, "Getting closer to heaven." He was real happy!

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"When I go home," he said, "I'm gonna come back as an orca."

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Man, it happened!

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It happened!

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So, the First Nation started calling Luna "Tsux'iit" -

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Ambrose's nickname.

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Tsux'iit is the wolf of the sea

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and we hold him in the highest regard, you know.

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I'd put my life on the line for his protection.

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That summer, Luna turned three years old,

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and many people wanted to help him.

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People who thought he was a chief revered him.

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People who thought he was lonely played with him.

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But then things changed on Nootka Sound.

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Many scientists and other people who loved wild animals

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thought that Luna's effort to make contact with people was bad for him.

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When I heard that Luna was alone,

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it was kind of like my heart, you know, my heart clunked.

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You know, he might come up and bump and...

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Toni Frohoff is a biologist.

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She studies whales and dolphins who've tried to make friends with people in other places,

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including several beluga whales on Canada's east coast.

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'You see in the media a lot of really beautiful aspects.

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'That's the light side of it.

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'But there's a very, very dark side.

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'The dark side is the human side.

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'In the long-term, our research has shown'

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the more interaction dolphins and whales have with people,

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the more likely they are to suffer injury and death.

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This became a huge dilemma on Nootka Sound.

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You natural instinct was to give him what he seemed to want.

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But what if it was dangerous for him?

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What were you supposed to do?

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The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans took a stand.

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I think people and whales,

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people and wildlife, need to create that boundary.

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You're being a friend by staying away.

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So that summer, a kind of tough love came to Nootka Sound.

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Several organisations brought in a group of women from the outside

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whose job was to tell people not to play with Luna.

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It was called "stewardship".

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Hey, guys, it's an offence under the Fisheries Act to touch this whale.

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-MAN:

-He came to us.

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Yeah, but you stopped and you came right out in the middle of the area.

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There's been a lot of public attention on this whale.

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It's up to 100,000 fine under the Fisheries Act to disturb the animal.

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The young women were idealistic, sincere and determined.

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Please, don't touch it.

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OK.

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They had no actual law enforcement authority

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but they sounded strict

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and they changed the atmosphere on Nootka Sound.

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Suddenly, people who stopped in Mooyah Bay

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were told they were breaking the law,

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and Luna was an enthusiastic accomplice.

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Folks, this is not a watchable whale, OK?

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I need you to exit the area.

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Watching or interacting with this whale

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can be subject to a 100,000 fine.

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This whale is not watchable.

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-You must not stop in this area.

-OK.

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Watching him could be considered disturbing.

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Gradually increase speed.

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-Get out of here.

-Keep your speed up.

-High speed.

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-Cruising speed.

-Keep your speed up.

-Don't slow down.

-Faster!

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Increase your speed slowly.

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In the beginning, people were very receptive.

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"Oh, OK. Thank you very much. We're out of here."

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Michelle Keeler was one of the stewards.

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And then it was amazing the amount of boats that had engine troubles!

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It was amazing!

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INDISTINCT

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Stop touching him.

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It's 100,000 bucks a pop right now,

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and we're out here to make that happen.

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You're not helping!

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Why don't... Why doesn't somebody just grab him?

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Because...

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People are out here fishing and everything.

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Don't push, Luna.

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LAUGHTER

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-Unreal!

-Down!

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Maybe he'll just keep following the tug, I don't know.

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Luna apparently figured out

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that if the stewards saw him coming, they'd dash away

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so he developed a more subtle approach

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we later called "stealth whale".

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No, Luna.

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-Oh!

-You OK?

-Oh, yeah.

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LAUGHTER

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I mean, he's really persistent and tries lots of things

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and he's extremely charming.

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You might know what's right and what you think is right

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and what you're going to do.

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Here he comes.

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He likes my bracelet sometimes...

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And then you get yourself in that situation with him there

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and I think it's really tough

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It's asking people too much to restrict themselves

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because people are dying for that kind of interaction.

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Oh, we're in a terrible situation.

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It was pretty obvious from the get-go

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that this was not going to be a sustainable means

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of trying to prevent types of interactions

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because all we were doing was interacting with him

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in order to prevent more interaction.

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As the stewards saw more of Luna in these situations,

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they came into conflict with themselves.

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They were trying to rebuild the wall Luna had broken

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but they loved him when he came through it.

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You're very pretty, Luna.

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Yes, you are very pretty!

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He's banging my boat.

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'When you feel like you have that connection,

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'there's nothing else like it.'

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I love my dogs, I love all the animals I've ever had,

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but this was different.

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This was different.

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No-one will ever know for sure how Luna felt this connection,

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but there's no question that he felt something.

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That summer when this old freighter and passenger ship was told

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it couldn't stop to see Luna any more, he adapted.

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That's when he started travelling with us.

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"If you guys aren't going to stop, I'm going to come with you!"

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He started to sort of commute by wake for 15 nautical miles

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back and forth from his home waters of Mooyah Bay

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to a place that was much more entertaining.

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The Gold River docks.

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But if it was fun for Luna,

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it was not fun for Fisheries officer Ed Thorburn.

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We had to get it out that we were serious about interaction and

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we would deal with it.

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Well, I was just petting him, petting his nose and stuff.

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Sandy Bohn was showing Luna to her mother and father at the dock.

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We're just standing there and I knelt down.

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He came right up to the edge and turned sideways, looking at me

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and so I just started petting him,

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because I knew that's what he wanted.

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Like, he was just sort of floating there

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and then when I knelt down, he just sort of rolled over

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and had a look at me.

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And all of a sudden I heard this, "You, there!

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"Get your hands off that whale and stand up right now!"

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It was a police officer coming to take her away.

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Sandy was charged in court with disturbing a whale.

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Luna was not called as a witness.

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After months of worry about the 100,000 fine,

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Sandy was slapped with a 100 fine.

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Did she regret it?

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No. Not at all.

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-It's the best 100 I ever spent.

-SHE LAUGHS

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It was summer again. Luna was four years old.

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Another batch of young women came north to administer tough love.

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And now, it was even tougher.

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Now you weren't even supposed to look at him.

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We were instructed not to make any contact with Luna,

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especially eye contact, cos it's just as bad as touching him, really.

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DOG BARKS

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Now, some of the people who lived here started thinking

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that the tough love rules were simply cruel.

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This is like God's gift and you guys are just pulling it!

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This is a lonely animal that's looking for comfort.

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And who made those rules in the first place?

0:22:400:22:43

And who says they were right?

0:22:430:22:45

We had come down a couple of times after I had been fined.

0:22:450:22:49

We were watching the whale in the boats,

0:22:490:22:52

looking for someone to pay attention to him.

0:22:520:22:55

It was very upsetting to see him.

0:22:550:22:58

-And I'm going to start crying.

-Aww.

0:22:580:23:02

But the dilemma was still the same. No-one wanted to be cruel,

0:23:030:23:06

but what should you do if human contact was bad for Luna?

0:23:060:23:10

DANCE MUSIC PLAYS

0:23:100:23:11

# Luna was a lonely whale, a lonely little orca whale

0:23:170:23:21

# Luna was a lonely whale... #

0:23:210:23:24

By now, Luna had a growing fan club,

0:23:240:23:26

like these kids at a Vancouver Island elementary school.

0:23:260:23:30

# A little orca... #

0:23:300:23:32

News and TV reports had been seen in many countries.

0:23:320:23:38

'Luna seems to be a perfectly normal...'

0:23:380:23:40

Ironically, it was Luna's friendliness across the wall

0:23:400:23:43

between species that had made him loved and famous.

0:23:430:23:45

But now, many of the people who knew about him because of that

0:23:450:23:49

wanted it to stop.

0:23:490:23:51

A lot of people got involved and tried to support Luna

0:23:530:23:57

and write letters to the government because they saw pictures

0:23:570:24:00

of people interacting with Luna. A lot of people saw it as being wrong.

0:24:000:24:04

So thousands of people started demanding a different solution -

0:24:040:24:09

that the government catch Luna and try to get him back to his family.

0:24:090:24:13

Senators from both Canada and the United States got involved

0:24:170:24:21

and the USA offered 100,000 to help pay for a reunion attempt.

0:24:210:24:26

At first, the Department said no, but the public demand grew louder.

0:24:270:24:31

Certainly there was a tremendous amount of political pressure.

0:24:310:24:35

People would write me, "Because I just want to spit on you!"

0:24:350:24:38

The pressure worked. That fall, the Department announced it would

0:24:420:24:46

try to catch Luna and move him the next spring.

0:24:460:24:49

Luna's going to be reunited! This is the greatest thing ever!

0:24:490:24:52

Luna's days in Nookta Sound are numbered.

0:24:520:24:56

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the four-year-old orca

0:24:560:24:59

is now a danger to himself and to people.

0:24:590:25:01

As I said, we really did hope that Luna could just go on this way

0:25:030:25:06

without us interfering with him. Who knows what he has on his mind,

0:25:060:25:09

but anyway, we're making decisions for him now.

0:25:090:25:12

That fall and winter,

0:25:160:25:17

as the Department planned how to catch Luna and haul him away,

0:25:170:25:20

Luna kept working on his own connections.

0:25:200:25:23

He'd catch up to the boat then go right to the front, right to the bow

0:25:230:25:27

and he put his tail up on the front of the boat.

0:25:270:25:30

And he just lay there! And he'd fall off and he'd get back up,

0:25:300:25:33

flip over and get his tail in there again.

0:25:330:25:35

It was just hilarious.

0:25:350:25:37

But behind the scenes, the Department's own scientists

0:25:370:25:40

were not sure Luna's own family would even take him back.

0:25:400:25:43

Most of us were not convinced that it would be successful.

0:25:440:25:47

Some people have a blind faith, that there's absolutely no question

0:25:470:25:51

that it'll work. But a lot of us who actually know these animals

0:25:510:25:54

in great detail were not so certain.

0:25:540:25:56

And what would happen if the reunion didn't work?

0:25:560:25:59

Very quietly, the Department made detailed arrangements

0:26:040:26:08

to send Luna to an aquarium if a reunion attempt was made

0:26:080:26:11

and didn't work right away.

0:26:110:26:13

The Department didn't say much about the captivity option.

0:26:170:26:21

But rumours flew like sparks in the wind to Nookta Sound

0:26:210:26:24

and galvanised the First Nations.

0:26:240:26:26

That was totally disrespectful for the First Nations.

0:26:260:26:30

If you want to capture a whale and

0:26:300:26:32

throw him in a cage or something. No way.

0:26:320:26:35

The Department went ahead with its plans but it grew very secretive.

0:26:360:26:40

And now everyone along Nookta Sound became suspicious.

0:26:400:26:44

There is just too many unanswered questions and everyone kind of knew

0:26:440:26:48

that once it went in the net, it was going to,

0:26:480:26:52

well, SeaWorld or another form of captivity.

0:26:520:26:55

I think even people that wouldn't have minded that

0:26:550:26:58

just got put off that the government was lying to them and

0:26:580:27:02

treating people like morons.

0:27:020:27:04

It was the 16th of June,

0:27:080:27:10

almost three years since Luna had showed up in Nookta Sound.

0:27:100:27:14

Many journalists were here for just this one day

0:27:150:27:19

and all of us expected that Luna was going to be in the pen by nightfall.

0:27:190:27:23

We were wrong.

0:27:250:27:27

The Mowachaht Muchalah people took the only weapons they had,

0:27:280:27:32

belief, canoes and song,

0:27:320:27:35

and went out on the water.

0:27:350:27:38

And Luna went with them.

0:27:400:27:43

The number one priority was just to keep him away form the pen.

0:27:430:27:47

Somewhere along the line, it dawned on us that,

0:27:470:27:50

"My God, we're fighting for his freedom."

0:27:500:27:53

Like, we're fighting for...at the time it seemed like his very life.

0:27:530:27:57

To everyone's astonishment, including the paddlers themselves,

0:27:570:28:01

Luna followed them 30 nautical miles away from the pen.

0:28:010:28:04

One of the journalists told me that

0:28:040:28:06

this was the most gentle kidnapping he'd ever seen.

0:28:060:28:09

But something else happened that day.

0:28:090:28:12

As I watched from another boat, the canoes went through

0:28:140:28:17

Luna's familiar home territory of Mooyah Bay.

0:28:170:28:20

Suddenly, he started jumping and splashing.

0:28:200:28:23

This was the only place in all those miles he did this.

0:28:230:28:27

Orcas often seem to communicate by slapping the water.

0:28:270:28:32

maybe there was a different story going on here,

0:28:320:28:36

one that had nothing to do with human traditions

0:28:360:28:38

or government wildlife management.

0:28:380:28:40

A story that we couldn't understand

0:28:400:28:43

but that Luna was trying to tell us anyway.

0:28:430:28:46

The story that belonged to him.

0:28:460:28:48

After that, whenever he slapped the water,

0:28:520:28:54

I always wondered what we were missing.

0:28:540:28:56

The first day, we knew we were in trouble.

0:28:590:29:01

So that's when we decided, "OK, this is now a totally different story."

0:29:010:29:06

The next day, Fisheries officer Ed Thorburn went out

0:29:060:29:09

to bring Luna back, but the canoes got in the way.

0:29:090:29:12

'We ask you not to interfere with this operation.'

0:29:170:29:20

They strike me as being very ready for action, these boys.

0:29:220:29:26

The press called it a tug of whale, but maybe to Luna, it wasn't.

0:29:280:29:33

All he had ever wanted from us was friendship.

0:29:330:29:36

And now every day was full of people who sang and played

0:29:360:29:40

and looked him in the eye.

0:29:400:29:41

In our story, this was a fight,

0:29:410:29:45

but maybe Luna thought he had already won.

0:29:450:29:48

It went on for days, back and forth until the 22nd of June -

0:29:520:29:57

a week after the capture attempt began.

0:29:570:30:00

First thing that morning, Luna chose Ed and the canoe fell behind.

0:30:000:30:05

But then this most social of whales

0:30:050:30:08

decided to help sort logs for a while

0:30:080:30:10

and the canoes caught up.

0:30:100:30:12

Ed got him out of the logs,

0:30:120:30:15

but then Luna had to say hello to a prawn fishing boat.

0:30:150:30:18

And the canoe came singing along.

0:30:200:30:23

They paddled on and on into the growing wind -

0:30:250:30:28

an ancient people trying to make a modern legend of sea and spirit

0:30:280:30:34

with a little whale.

0:30:340:30:36

But then, beyond an island,

0:30:500:30:52

Luna decided to trade songs for motors for a while

0:30:520:30:56

and went over to Ed Thorburn on the Department boat.

0:30:560:30:59

Ed speeded up, Luna went with him, and the canoes couldn't catch up.

0:30:590:31:04

Two hours later, Ed led Luna into the pen.

0:31:040:31:08

The tug of whale was over.

0:31:080:31:11

My chest and my heart, everything was really heavy.

0:31:110:31:14

I started to cry. I thought, "Oh, they've got him."

0:31:140:31:17

To me, it was like, holy cow, this is actually going to work.

0:31:170:31:20

But this was odd.

0:31:220:31:23

The gate of the pen wasn't yet closed.

0:31:230:31:27

I was willing to kill somebody. I was so furious, it was unbelievable.

0:31:270:31:32

How many more opportunities were we going to get?

0:31:320:31:35

No-one has ever fully explained why the gate wasn't closed

0:31:350:31:39

while Luna rested in the back of the pen.

0:31:390:31:42

But after a full 11 minutes, he slipped away.

0:31:420:31:45

Ed tried again to lead him in.

0:31:450:31:48

But then, from up on a nearby hill,

0:31:480:31:51

Suzanne and I heard singing.

0:31:510:31:53

The canoes were back,

0:31:530:31:55

and Luna went out to be among them.

0:31:550:31:59

The water was jammed with boats.

0:31:590:32:01

It was a Luna flotilla.

0:32:010:32:04

But then Ed went out and Luna went over to say hi,

0:32:040:32:07

and Ed started back, and then out of the flotilla came a little tin boat,

0:32:070:32:11

driven by a guy named Rudy.

0:32:110:32:13

Luna went with Rudy.

0:32:130:32:15

Ed gave chase.

0:32:150:32:17

Luna went back and forth, just as if he was in a pod.

0:32:170:32:21

To us, this was high drama, like the chase scene in a movie.

0:32:240:32:28

But when we looked back,

0:32:280:32:29

there was something else that was much more dramatic.

0:32:290:32:33

On this day in June in a fjord in British Columbia,

0:32:370:32:40

a little wild whale, by his own choice,

0:32:400:32:43

spent 12 hours and swam 50 nautical miles

0:32:430:32:47

just to spend his time with human beings.

0:32:470:32:50

But all we noticed was the chase.

0:32:520:32:54

THEY SING

0:32:580:33:00

Two days after Luna left the pen and went away with Rudy,

0:33:030:33:06

the Department stopped trying to catch him.

0:33:060:33:10

ALL CHANT

0:33:100:33:12

We did it! All of you, we did it!

0:33:160:33:18

We went to see it with some water junk food and baloney sandwiches!

0:33:180:33:23

LAUGHTER

0:33:230:33:25

-I was really disappointed.

-I was relieved.

0:33:250:33:27

-We are a proud nation.

-A sense of relief.

0:33:270:33:30

-It was unbelievable, it was great.

-Our grandfathers are smiling on us today.

0:33:300:33:34

And it was a tremendously emotional moment.

0:33:340:33:37

Tsux'iit is still free. Woo-hoo!

0:33:370:33:41

There's no way that we compromise our position in any way!

0:33:410:33:46

And our position is...

0:33:460:33:48

let nature take its course and leave Tsux'iit alone!

0:33:480:33:52

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:33:520:33:54

That was exactly what happened. Luna was left alone.

0:33:580:34:02

And you could feel that feeling.

0:34:040:34:06

Like, you know, you could just feel he must have been,

0:34:060:34:10

"What did I do wrong? How come everybody hates me?"

0:34:100:34:13

So he tried again.

0:34:150:34:16

But this time, not all the faces were as welcoming

0:34:160:34:19

as they had been before.

0:34:190:34:20

One of several angry voices came from Gold River's Keith Bell,

0:34:220:34:26

when Luna pushed his boats around.

0:34:260:34:28

He decided to go to the police.

0:34:280:34:30

If you're going to get the RCMP into any action at all,

0:34:300:34:34

you've got to lay a charge of some kind,

0:34:340:34:36

and I wanted to lay a charge of attempted murder on the whale.

0:34:360:34:39

But the RCMP said unfortunately they couldn't prosecute Luna,

0:34:390:34:43

because they didn't have jurisdiction.

0:34:430:34:46

He said, "That whale doesn't belong to us anyway,

0:34:460:34:49

"it's an American whale."

0:34:490:34:50

Keith was not amused.

0:34:550:34:57

I wanted the RCMP to get involved in it -

0:34:570:34:59

if it was a cougar in our backyard,

0:34:590:35:01

they would have come and shot the cougar.

0:35:010:35:03

There are some people in the area that have an ill-will towards Luna.

0:35:030:35:07

They feel that, if we don't get rid of Luna,

0:35:070:35:10

the Department, that is, then they will.

0:35:100:35:13

VOICE OVER RADIO

0:35:130:35:15

'A killer whale has, on several occasions,

0:35:180:35:21

'interacted with...'

0:35:210:35:22

BROADCAST CONTINUES

0:35:220:35:25

After the complaints,

0:35:250:35:27

the government put this notice on the weather report,

0:35:270:35:30

where it was repeated every few minutes all year.

0:35:300:35:33

But then things changed again.

0:35:340:35:37

MAN WHISTLES

0:35:390:35:41

When the Department told the First Nations

0:35:460:35:48

to run another one of those tough love stewardship programmes that didn't work,

0:35:480:35:52

Jamie James, who was the Fisheries manager for the First Nations had a different idea.

0:35:520:35:57

Oh! What are you doing?

0:36:000:36:03

I thought it was kind of my responsibility to ensure that,

0:36:030:36:06

you know, go see him and say,

0:36:060:36:07

"You're safe here," you see a friendly face, you know.

0:36:070:36:11

Just from the bond that me and Luna had,

0:36:130:36:16

I think I owed it to him, and you know, let him know I'm still here.

0:36:160:36:19

JAMIE WHISTLES

0:36:370:36:40

LUNA CALLS OUT

0:36:420:36:45

You know, Luna is a pretty strong character.

0:37:030:37:05

He learned to survive on his own. He did it all himself.

0:37:050:37:09

So I mean, really, I didn't do too much other than be his friend.

0:37:090:37:13

That was my...

0:37:130:37:15

My greatest honour was being able to do that.

0:37:150:37:18

During the short time that fall that Jamie was being his friend,

0:37:210:37:25

Luna got into no trouble at all.

0:37:250:37:27

But the Department still said people

0:37:290:37:31

should have no relationships with Luna and Jamie was told to stop.

0:37:310:37:36

That summer, Luna turned six years old.

0:37:380:37:42

The Department knew the risks were growing, but it did nothing new.

0:37:420:37:46

It was almost like they were going to wait for somebody to...

0:37:460:37:50

force their hand.

0:37:500:37:51

Everyone knew it was going to hurt a person or himself.

0:37:510:37:54

Everybody knew that. They were just waiting for the inevitable.

0:37:540:37:57

The First Nations got a stewardship permit,

0:38:010:38:03

but it was limited to the same old tough love.

0:38:030:38:06

And Luna got into so much trouble trying to connect

0:38:060:38:09

that we heard threats almost every day.

0:38:090:38:12

We told a guy about Luna, he said, "I know how to deal with the son of a bitch - I've got a gun."

0:38:120:38:16

One day during this difficult summer,

0:38:350:38:38

I was at the log sort in Mooyah Bay.

0:38:380:38:41

And then... stealth whale came to visit.

0:38:460:38:50

I got out on the logs,

0:38:500:38:52

and tried to get my boat out of his interest zone.

0:38:520:38:56

No luck.

0:38:570:38:58

Then I zipped over to the dock,

0:38:580:39:01

hoping he'd go back to helping sort logs.

0:39:010:39:04

No luck.

0:39:090:39:11

Finally, Suzanne and I pulled the boat all the way out of the water

0:39:170:39:20

and left Luna waiting for us to come back.

0:39:200:39:23

It was just a momentary thing,

0:39:260:39:28

but suddenly, I'd had enough of ditching him.

0:39:280:39:32

I broke the rules.

0:39:330:39:35

I looked at him.

0:39:350:39:37

"What are we doing to you?" I thought. "What are we doing?"

0:39:400:39:44

For four years, we have treated you with stunning inconsistency.

0:39:460:39:50

Loved one day, shunned the next.

0:39:500:39:52

But we keep trying to push you back behind the wall.

0:39:520:39:57

No wisdom tells us this long cruelty is necessary.

0:39:570:40:02

But we commit it.

0:40:020:40:04

No science tells us this pain is justice.

0:40:050:40:08

But we inflict it.

0:40:080:40:10

"How in the world," I thought, "Will we ever be forgiven,

0:40:130:40:17

"by nature, by life, and above all by ourselves,

0:40:170:40:21

"if we let you suffer

0:40:210:40:23

"just because you want to be our friend?"

0:40:230:40:26

Then things changed for Suzanne and me.

0:40:350:40:38

We decided to get involved.

0:40:380:40:40

For us, the idea of getting involved in a story that we're trying to cover

0:40:400:40:44

was a fundamental break from journalistic rules.

0:40:440:40:47

But at the same time we felt we couldn't just stand there and report

0:40:470:40:51

without trying to do something to help this whale.

0:40:510:40:53

It was like everything on this planet that we love and damage.

0:40:570:41:02

Maybe our whole relationship had to change.

0:41:020:41:05

To us humans, true friendship is consistent.

0:41:050:41:08

You can trust it.

0:41:080:41:10

And from what we know of orcas, they treat each other that way too.

0:41:100:41:14

So maybe it was time to give Luna

0:41:150:41:17

something that was more like friendship, not less.

0:41:170:41:20

So we asked the Department for a permit

0:41:270:41:29

to work with Jamie, scientists, and the public,

0:41:290:41:32

to keep Luna safe by having boats always near him.

0:41:320:41:35

Like a pod,

0:41:350:41:36

and giving him consistent interaction when he needed it.

0:41:360:41:40

Friendship.

0:41:400:41:41

We sent our request to the Department and the press.

0:41:440:41:47

We went out on the water almost every day.

0:41:470:41:50

And I got into trouble right away.

0:41:500:41:53

One day when Luna was being a nuisance I led him away from danger.

0:41:560:42:01

The next day I got a message from the Department.

0:42:010:42:05

If I did that again, it said, I could be charged with a crime.

0:42:050:42:09

Our proposal had struck at the heart of the Department's philosophy.

0:42:120:42:16

You are trying to assume you know what they need

0:42:160:42:19

because you can give it to them,

0:42:190:42:22

versus trying to understand these are intelligent, social creatures.

0:42:220:42:26

They have their own needs, we just don't understand them.

0:42:260:42:29

Why assume we know how to fill that gap,

0:42:290:42:31

and that it will be better for them?

0:42:310:42:33

Why?

0:42:330:42:35

Now we knew where we stood.

0:42:360:42:39

For both Luna and for us, breaking the wall challenged some of the

0:42:390:42:44

deepest things people believed about who humans and animals are.

0:42:440:42:48

This was risky territory.

0:42:500:42:52

Once again, tensions grew over the fate of the young whale.

0:42:550:43:00

Should he be loved, should he be captured, should he be killed?

0:43:000:43:03

When our First Nations canoe came through that summer, many of the

0:43:030:43:07

paddlers saw him as a supernatural being in charge of his own destiny.

0:43:070:43:10

And maybe ours.

0:43:100:43:12

When I talk about him, it's really emotional.

0:43:120:43:15

Cos I say he's special.

0:43:150:43:18

He wasn't just a whale. He was brought here for some reason.

0:43:190:43:26

To me, he seems to be on a mission.

0:43:270:43:30

Our job is just to keep him free

0:43:300:43:32

until he accomplishes, or teaches us what it is we need to learn.

0:43:320:43:38

One First Nations leader told us that if Luna were killed

0:43:420:43:45

it would be because Luna had chosen that ending

0:43:450:43:48

to teach us a lesson.

0:43:480:43:50

That day, when the paddlers tried to go to shore,

0:43:540:43:57

Luna didn't seem to want them to leave.

0:43:570:43:58

Again and again he turned the bow away from the beach.

0:43:580:44:03

Finally the paddlers got a tow, and they left him.

0:44:040:44:08

One day a man named Alan Dunham was crossing a passage,

0:44:180:44:22

and Luna found him.

0:44:220:44:24

Right now, philosophies didn't matter.

0:44:240:44:27

Friends did.

0:44:270:44:29

If Luna spilled Alan by accident, he could die in this cold water.

0:44:310:44:36

But Alan was calm, and Jamie was nearby.

0:44:360:44:39

So was I.

0:44:390:44:40

We gathered around Alan.

0:44:430:44:46

Luna looked as if he was just waiting to see

0:44:480:44:51

what this meeting was all about.

0:44:510:44:53

Then, Jamie and Luna turned this moment away from disaster so easily.

0:44:560:45:00

Jamie looked in his eye, and Luna rested. At peace, and safe.

0:45:040:45:08

In October, the First Nations stewardship permit ended

0:45:170:45:20

and Jamie had to go back to his office.

0:45:200:45:22

He brought in a boat I could sleep on.

0:45:220:45:24

Suzanne stayed ashore to lobby for our proposal

0:45:240:45:27

and I went out full-time.

0:45:270:45:28

How are you guys doing? Any sign of Luna?

0:45:280:45:32

RADIO: 'No, not yet, he should come and say hello pretty quick.'

0:45:320:45:36

In the daylight I watched from a distance and at night I anchored

0:45:360:45:39

and listened to him calling on the hydrophone.

0:45:390:45:42

That different voice, telling his different story.

0:45:420:45:45

Which we all interpreted differently.

0:45:450:45:49

In November the Mowachaht-Muchalaht people

0:45:550:45:57

held a potlatch for Ambrose Maquinna

0:45:570:45:59

four years after his death.

0:45:590:46:01

This was the official end of mourning.

0:46:010:46:04

Now many people believed Luna would disappear.

0:46:040:46:08

Right after the memorial potlatch for my grandfather Ambrose

0:46:100:46:13

a lot of us knew that he was gonna go

0:46:130:46:17

but we didn't know how he was gonna go.

0:46:170:46:19

We didn't know if he was gonna die or just gonna leave the territory.

0:46:190:46:24

RADIO: 'West coast, Vancouver Island, north,

0:46:300:46:33

'storm warning upgraded to hurricane-force wind warning.

0:46:330:46:36

'South-east gales, four, zero, two storm force, five, zero...'

0:46:360:46:40

Winter came to Nootka Sound.

0:46:430:46:45

A sport fisherman told us that Luna would be killed that winter.

0:46:530:46:56

I said to him that whoever did it would be arrested.

0:46:590:47:01

He said that it would be done in bad weather

0:47:010:47:04

and no-one would ever find out.

0:47:040:47:06

After the storm I went back out.

0:47:080:47:11

Luna wasn't there.

0:47:110:47:13

I spent the night, but there were no calls on the hydrophone.

0:47:150:47:18

In the morning I went looking for Luna.

0:47:220:47:24

But I realised that for Suzanne and me, life had been

0:47:240:47:28

completely transformed by our affection for a little whale.

0:47:280:47:31

Somehow, this strange visitor from the wet side of the world

0:47:340:47:38

had broken down all our walls.

0:47:380:47:40

It was that bond we so lightly call friendship.

0:47:440:47:47

Which grows like mist, but holds like iron.

0:47:470:47:51

I went far, out toward the open sea.

0:47:580:48:01

Then, I thought I saw a spout.

0:48:020:48:04

I aimed the camera.

0:48:040:48:07

This was great!

0:48:130:48:15

Luna was all right, after all.

0:48:150:48:17

I slowed the boat and he came right over.

0:48:210:48:24

I didn't ditch him.

0:48:240:48:26

And at that moment, for me, everything changed on Nootka Sound.

0:48:260:48:30

The Department had given up on him.

0:48:330:48:35

The First Nations were letting go.

0:48:350:48:38

So I made a choice. If I had to be Luna outlaw to keep him safe,

0:48:410:48:45

that's what I would do.

0:48:450:48:47

I leaned across the wall.

0:48:510:48:54

In the cold water, his skin was warm.

0:48:540:48:57

All my education and training involved things

0:49:090:49:13

you can somehow quantify.

0:49:130:49:15

But there are these uncomprehendables, almost,

0:49:150:49:19

these things out there that...something's going on.

0:49:190:49:22

Something is going on...

0:49:220:49:24

an interconnectedness of a lot of life on this planet.

0:49:240:49:28

If we're gonna get that big, unmeasurable thing out there,

0:49:300:49:35

as to what are the connections in the species,

0:49:350:49:39

I think we had it.

0:49:390:49:41

He was just as curious about us we were about him.

0:49:410:49:44

Over the next few weeks I smuggled friendship into Nootka Sound.

0:49:470:49:51

I knew I might be caught.

0:49:550:49:56

But at least when Luna was with me

0:49:560:49:59

he was safe.

0:49:590:50:01

Getting to know Luna across the walls

0:50:010:50:04

was not like one of those fables

0:50:040:50:07

in which people and animals start chatting.

0:50:070:50:10

Up close, Luna was even more mysterious.

0:50:100:50:13

A complete life full of awareness and complexity.

0:50:130:50:16

as deep and unfamiliar as the sea he lived in.

0:50:160:50:19

When I talked and Luna whistled and slapped, neither of us

0:50:230:50:26

had a clue what the other meant.

0:50:260:50:28

We were like a couple of kids far from home,

0:50:280:50:31

alone on a playground, with no language to help.

0:50:310:50:34

We played anyway.

0:50:340:50:36

Because what we shared mattered.

0:50:360:50:38

The days began to grow longer.

0:50:460:50:48

A group of scientists also applied for a permit to help Luna.

0:50:480:50:51

So, with spring around the corner, there was hope again.

0:50:510:50:55

But no permit was ever issued

0:50:550:50:57

to give Luna friendship on Nootka Sound.

0:50:570:51:00

On the 5th of March my bilge pump quit

0:51:060:51:10

and I got a bunch of water in the boat, which made it very heavy.

0:51:100:51:13

With the motor roaring, I could only go eight knots.

0:51:130:51:16

Luna loved that blast and splash and he surfed along for at least a mile.

0:51:160:51:22

Then I had to leave him for a few days for a family visit.

0:51:220:51:26

But on March 10th, the day before I was going to come back,

0:51:280:51:32

a newspaper asked me for a photo, so I ran the tape again and stopped it

0:51:320:51:37

right there.

0:51:370:51:40

So the last time I saw Luna, was the last time everyone saw Luna.

0:51:440:51:48

RECORDED RADIO CONVERSATION:

0:51:550:51:59

With no-one there to give him safe friendship,

0:52:260:52:29

once more Luna had found the dangerous kind.

0:52:290:52:32

The next day, Suzanne and I went out to Mooyah Bay.

0:52:370:52:41

We kept thinking

0:52:410:52:43

that Luna would do stealth whale up through the flowers.

0:52:430:52:46

It's almost as if an alien came down and we shot it, you know,

0:52:540:52:58

because it was blocking traffic.

0:52:580:52:59

That was one of the worst days of my life.

0:52:590:53:02

I was the happiest guy in Gold River.

0:53:020:53:07

The bottom of my heart just fell. I just... God.

0:53:070:53:12

DRUMMING AND CHANTING

0:53:120:53:18

Telling you this story, I just want to let you know,

0:53:580:54:00

is one of the many ways for me to remember Luna

0:54:000:54:04

and it's about the easiest way.

0:54:040:54:06

One night, it must have been about 11 o'clock,

0:54:060:54:09

totally dark out, we had a little bit of flashlight,

0:54:090:54:12

and the phosphorescence in the water that glows when they're disturbed.

0:54:120:54:16

So, we had Luna coming with us and it was just the most amazing thing.

0:54:160:54:20

He comes up beside the boat and he's just swimming next to us

0:54:200:54:24

while we're bringing him over and he's just glowing in the water.

0:54:240:54:27

You didn't see Luna, you saw the outline of Luna.

0:54:270:54:30

And it was just the most amazing thing you could ever see.

0:54:300:54:33

It was like Luna dancing in the sky with the stars, man.

0:54:330:54:37

Suzanne and I came to Nootka Sound for three weeks

0:54:420:54:45

and we stayed three years.

0:54:450:54:47

And we learned something -

0:54:470:54:49

a life does not have to be human to be great.

0:54:490:54:54

Millions of years had made him different from us

0:55:070:55:10

but he had come through the wall because of what we shared.

0:55:100:55:14

He, too, had carried that need for others across the greatness of time

0:55:140:55:19

because it is necessary, not optional.

0:55:190:55:22

As Luna taught us just by who he was,

0:55:260:55:30

this thing we call friendship is bigger than we know.

0:55:300:55:35

WHALE CALLS

0:55:460:55:49

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:56:180:56:21

Email [email protected]

0:56:210:56:24

This is the emotional story of one young killer whale's quest for companionship after he was separated from his family. Luna was just two years old when, alone and confused, he found himself on the rugged, wild coast of Vancouver Island.

Following his tumultuous life, the film records the human friendships he developed and the trouble this led him into. From death threats to numerous capture attempts by the government, the film-makers watched as people tried to determine his fate.

Luna shows us how quickly our lives can once again cross with the natural world.