If you happened to wander through the frigid jungle that is Times Square on Friday night (February 27) and actually looked up for once, you probably noticed something a bit more tranquil than your usual Target ad or frenetically blinking news alert. That's because Adrian Grenier and the people behind "52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale" pooled their resources together to bring 52, the heartbreaking subject of their upcoming whale documentary, to New York City.
Basically, for 15 whole minutes, Times Square was taken over by whales -- but this is not just your usual celebrity pet project. The hunt to find 52, who calls out at a 52 hertz frequency that no other whale can understand, will also help a team of scientists fight the devastating effects of noise pollution, caused by -- you guessed it! -- humans.
"We humans have been creating a lot of noise that is going to the oceans from commercial shipping, oil explorations... a lot of things that we’re doing in the ocean are creating this cacophony of noise," Grenier, who is producing the film, told MTV News. "That noise, when it’s at its worst, can be as loud as 100,000 jet engines. Imagine trying to connect with a loved one -- trying to chat up a cute girl or guy, and you can’t because you’re being drowned out by 100,000 jet engines. I think you’d go a little insane."
This, sadly, is exactly what's happening to whales like 52 -- the noise pollution can either kill them outright if they're in the path of certain seismic blasts, or make them deaf and drive them crazy, which can lead to mass beachings.
Though of course, the fact that 52 is quite literally the loneliest whale in the world brings a whole lot more interest to the ocean noise story. According to director Josh Zeman, 52 was first heard back in the '80s off the coast of the Pacific, but the efforts to locate him died with the scientist that was initially tracking him. Which sucks, because whales survive and thrive off of interactions with others.
"Whales are probably more social than we are," Zeman said. "Whales have spindle cells, specialized cells that allow them -- like humans and apes and elephants -- to have social bonds and cooperation. They have double the amounts of spindle cells as we do. So they’re very social creatures. They may feel loneliness even more than we could ever feel loneliness."
"He’s been calling out his whole life, constantly," Grenier added. "Other whales will sing and then they’ll stop, but he’s relentless. And he’s never once received a response. If you can imagine out there, I’m sure there are a lot of people in this world -- and I’m certainly one of them -- who knows what it’s like to be misunderstood or feel like an outsider, this is for all of you."
And of course, it only takes a small donation from a lot of interested people to get this going. The Kickstarter page for the film features an array of pledge prizes from Grenier, including handwritten notes, a whale-watching expedition, tickets to the premiere, and of course, mermaid lessons. Also, if you're artistically or musically inclined, Grenier would love to include your Lonely Whale submissions in a community art show he's planning to present next spring or summer.
Oh, and one more thing -- if you happened to read that Taylor Swift interview with Rolling Stone, where she (understandably) questioned if the whale wasn't just a cool loner having "a great time," know that Grenier hears your voice, too -- and really wants Swift to help out with the project.
"I would invite Taylor Swift to come find out with us," Grenier said. "Maybe she can sing to him; maybe the lonely whale is Taylor Swift fan. Maybe they could do a duet."