ENTANGLED documents how climate change has accelerated a collision between one of the world's most endangered species, North America's most valuable fishery, and a federal agency mandated to protect both.
ENTANGLED chronicles the efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales from extinction, the impacts of those efforts on the lobster industry, and how the National Marine Fisheries Service has struggled to balance the vying interests.
There are now estimated to be about 350 right whales, making them among the planet's most endangered species. The main threat to their survival, scientists say: millions of lobster lines that stretch from New England up through Atlantic Canada, standard gear for North America's most valuable fishery. Exacerbating that threat is climate change, which has sparked a collapse in the whale's food supply in the warming waters of the Gulf of Maine, forcing them to search for food in areas where they had rarely been seen before. As a result, their population has been plummeting.
From David Abel & Andy Laub, award-winning producers of Lobster War, Sacred Cod, and Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys.
Directed by David Abel
Produced by David Abel, Andy Laub, Lise King
Editor: Andy Laub
Cinematography: David Abel, Giulia Campos
Sound Design/Soundtrack: Andy Laub
Animation: Emily Guo
A film by David Abel & Andy Laub
"A brilliant and truly outstanding film, profoundly disturbing, laying out the evidence on the role that humanity continues to play in their demise, and shining a light on how we hold the fate of these incredible creatures in our hands."
Peter J. Auster, Research Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
"Beyond phenomenal...A tremendously excellent job with this film. It's powerful, thought-provoking, and sure to make a difference."
Kim Kirchberg-Sawicki, Fulbright Fellow, University of Connecticut
"Director David Abel analyzes the dilemma with clarity, evenhandedness, and empathy. But hopes of a resolution have been complicated by politics."
Peter Keough, The Boston Globe
"Exceptionally well designed...Vivid...Rich with information...ENTANGLED motivates us to explore further in fields that range from biology and oceanography to economics, anthropology, and political science. Governance is particularly salient, as the film shows a federal agency, NOAA, working in a participatory process with individuals, states, non-profit organizations, and the courts, struggling to balance the needs of both whales and lobstering communities."
Bonnie McCay, Professor Emerita of Human Ecology, Rutgers University
"A brilliant film that brings the difficult conversations to the forefront, while encouraging a solutions-based approach by all sides that is urgently needed to help save our marine life, our oceans, and ultimately ourselves...[The film] presents the current plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale with a balanced perspective showcasing the complex and disturbing effects of climate change and human interaction on an already endangered species."
Ana Blanco, Executive Director, International Ocean Film Festival
"ENTANGLED highlights two of the many threats facing critically endangered North Atlantic right whales - accidental entanglements in fishing gear and politics. The film artfully captures the diverse perspectives of various stakeholders whose lives are entangled in the fate of this critically endangered species."
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Executive Director, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), North America
"This beautiful film captures North American right whales and the scientists, policymakers, and advocates who want to prevent their extinction. The filmmakers highlight the trade-offs in fisheries management and the lives affected by policy changes. A great film for any educator who wants to expose students to multiple perspectives surrounding natural resource management."
Dave Love, Associate Scientist, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University
"The plight of the North Atlantic right whale is dire, and ENTANGLED tells so well the story of the complexities and frustrations conservationists and fishermen face to resolve the situation - finding common ground to preserve industry and the whales through new gear innovations and stronger policies is imperative! Thank you for bringing attention to the heart wrenching impact human activities that continue to plague the NARW and talking about the hard work of many to find a way to work together to save these beautiful animals. Bravo!"
Christina Connett Brophy, Chief Curator, The New Bedford Whaling Museum
"Powerful...conservation-focused...Told with respect for culture, livelihood and wildlife, ENTANGLED shines a bright light on North Atlantic right whales, urgently exposing the long legacy of human pressures, the contemporary and impactful dynamics of a changing ocean environment, and the complication of government oversight across two nations, and does so with reverence for a species whose magnificent presence may well fade to dark over the next generation."
Dr. Jeff Boehm, Chief Executive Officer, The Marine Mammal Center
"Outstanding film...ENTANGLED brings us into the world of these ocean giants and into the lives of people intertwined with them. Beautifully filmed, with a journalistic style, this film leads us on a journey through the threats, conflicts, and solutions, while leaving us pondering the fate of a species whose existence hangs in the balance. An important story artfully told, through science and human emotion."
Brian Skerry, award-winning underwater photographer and National Geographic Photography Fellow
"ENTANGLED tells the tangled story of why North Atlantic right whales are in deep trouble, caught not only in fishing gear but in the middle of the lobster fishing industry, science, conservation and politics. This film, perfect for students and community groups, lays it all out. What's next for the North Atlantic right whale? This is what every viewer of this insightful, action-packed film has to answer."
Erich Hoyt, Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Author, Orca: The Whale Called Killer and Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises
"ENTANGLED expertly presents both sides of a contentious issue with equal understanding. [The film] doesn't just fit the problem of right whale entanglement into one box - [it] carefully explains the nuanced effects of climate change and fishing regulation until the viewer can make their own educated judgement. In a world full of knee-jerk outrage, this approach is a breath of ocean air."
Julia Dunlavey, Maine Film Center
"ENTANGLED skillfully navigates the complex conflicts surrounding right whales, balancing a wide range of perspectives, a careful representation of the oceanography, and a sense of urgency. This is a story, still unfolding, that everyone should be aware of."
Nicholas Record, Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
"With extraordinary right whale footage and a series of well-chosen, well-balanced interviews from people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, ENTANGLED tells the story of the decades-long dispute between lobstermen and environmentalists over the survival of the North Atlantic Right Whale, while pointing directly at the solution. Through human ingenuity and understanding, we can learn how to come together to save both the right whales and ultimately ourselves. I loved this film."
"This is a sad, beautiful, and powerful presentation on the plight of both right whales and lobstermen. Conflict is always difficult to resolve, but the future of this whale depends upon positive resolution. Data don't lie and extinction is forever."