To walk out the door and see a tall man on the porch, reading a book or writing some notes in his computer.
To cook and look out the window and see this woman and this man walking along the beach in front of the house and having a lively conversation.
These and other moments wouldn’t have been so special (in fact, so amazingly special!) for us if this woman and this man weren’t Jane Goodall and Roger Payne. But they are. And they are special (amazingly special!) people.
We recently spent a week at Whale Camp, the research station at Península Valdés, Argentina where Roger began studying the southern right whales in 1970. Jane and Roger came to star in a documentary directed by Argentine actor and director Boy Olmi, produced by Dylan Williams and Latin Stock Digital, in cooperation with the Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas, the Ocean Alliance, the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots. The documentary will be released in 2014.
We were 17 people sharing a rustic house by the ocean on a remote beach, in a bay where southern right whale mothers and their young calves were getting ready to leave this nursing ground for their summer feeding grounds in the south Atlantic. This was the natural setting for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be remembered by all of us as truly special and heart-touching.
Cameras, lenses, tripods, microphones, cables, batteries, computers became part of our daily lives, while Jane and Roger patiently accepted to be the center of our attention all day. Their conversations about the natural world, about their lives devoted to conserving chimpanzees and whales, forests and oceans, about climate change and animal communication, about children and the future, money and happiness, passion and hope, were recorded. In the intimacy of this little house, by the candlelight, we listened, we learned, we shared.
And then, we went out to the world too. Jane and Roger visited the picturesque town of Puerto Pirámides in Península Valdés, where Roger introduced Jane to the whales from a boat, and then they had an “extended family reunion” with the local community and with many friends. They gave a lively talk at the Ecocentro in the city of Puerto Madryn in Chubut Province, where they were declared Guests of Honor. And, in the megalopolis of Buenos Aires, they shared their wisdom in a fascinating conversation that was broadcasted live to the world through the internet.
This was just the beginning of an adventure that has brought the worlds of chimpanzees and whales together, blending Jane’s and Roger’s vision after decades of passionate work and advocacy to help make this a better world for animals, for people, for all. We were so lucky to be there and witness this encounter.
We are grateful to both Jane and Roger for opening their their minds, and most importantly, their hearts for all of us to peek into their amazing lives and to see and feel the world from their perspective. We learned much from them during the days we shared in Patagonia. We carry that learning with me. And we will share it with those who want to hear, and who want to work hand in hand to make this a better world for all.
By Mariano Sironi, Scientific Director, Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas – Argentina