Beloved B.C. whale subject of new movie
Orphaned and alone, a young killer whale in the waters of B.C.'s Nootka Sound bonded with local boats.
Luna the whale arrived in the area in 2001 after being separated from his pod in Juan de Fuca Strait.
This is the story Sidney, B.C. filmmaker Mike Parfit came to the area to tell.
"My wife Suzanne Chisolm and I came to Gold River to write an article about a whale," he says in his documentary.
"We went there expecting to be there for three weeks," says Suzanne. "We met him and fell in love with him and stayed for three years."
The young whale became their lives. And their first meeting with Luna was unforgettable.
"All of a sudden he just exploded right next to the boat," says Mike. "Boom! He's there!"
Their article grew into a documentary, and then, a feature film.
"They're incredibly complex intelligent very social animals," says Suzanna. "Luna was all of that and much more.
As their cameras rolled, authorities moved in. A plan was hatched to capture Luna and reunite him with his pod.
"It was unbelievable," says Michael. "We kept sitting there saying 'I can't believe this stuff is happening.'"
Local First Nations blocked the capture, and Luna stayed in Nootka Sound.
"We became convinced he needed some form of controlled safe interaction," says Suzanne.
But it was interaction that ultimately proved deadly.
The playful killer whale, who won the hearts of many around the world, was killed in 2006 after an incident with a tugboat. Luna hit the propeller of the powerful boat and did not survive.
"I lost it. I just lost it," says Michael.
But the filmmakers decided Luna's story should still be told.
"It's really not about how the story ends - it's about how the story lives on and how Luna lives on," says Michael.
'Saving Luna' has won dozens awards at film festivals all over the world.
"We always felt Luna and his story as an individual was really amazing so we're thrilled to have this chance to show this story to the rest of the world and to Canada on the big screen," says Suzanne.
In the past year, several members of Luna's pod -- including his mother and brother -- have mysteriously disappeared and are presumed dead. The filmmakers hope in telling Luna's story, they'll open hearts -- and minds -- to the wonder of killer whales.
"We need to find a better way to live with these creatures on our planet," says Suzanne.
The movie opens Friday. Click here for more information.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson