Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Voiceless film trailer

It's been an unbelievable privilege to work on the Voiceless film project. It's incredible to me, as a young adult, to see this go from an idea sparked by a handful of students, to a film project that hundreds of people are directly involved in, and that hundreds of thousands have supported. That blows my mind.

From skyping in to chat with classes of kids from Spain, Italy, and Norway, to speaking in front of hundreds at the Voice of the Orca's conference, to hitting the "most popular" slot on Kickstarter during our fundraising campaign, to interviewing dozens of scientists, marine biologists, activists, artists, surfers and students from around the world-- we've come to realize that this is more than just a film. This is larger than us.

This is a movement.

Check out our trailer below:

Voiceless - Trailer - A Film by Blue Freedom from HTK Marketing on Vimeo.

We can't thank you guys enough for believing in us.

- Katie

Friday, November 13, 2015

STILL HERE: a better way to look at Free Tilikum Day

November 14 is here again – the day we use to bring awareness to Tilikum, the captive orca whale. But it’s been about six years since the first “Free Tilikum Protest Day” and Tilikum is still living in a pool at SeaWorld. Are all our efforts and cries for justice futile? We don’t think so.

International Free Tilikum Protest Day comes every year on November 14. We wouldn’t be who we are today were it not for Tilikum the orca whale inspiring us to take action. But this idea has grown from the freedom of this one whale to the freedom of all captive cetaceans. We believe that we can make a difference. We believe that we can set these captives free.  We started Free Tilikum Day because we wanted everyone to turn and look and see this injustice happening right under our noses and say, “Hey. That’s wrong.

But after six years of raising the same ruckus, it’s easy to lose hope. These beautiful, intelligent creatures are still in captivity. But does that mean we should stop trying to free them? Absolutely not. As long as they are still there, we have to show marine parks that we are still here. We are still fighting! We don’t care how long it takes, we are going to keep fighting until these animals are free.

Don’t lose hope. We ARE making a difference. Keep fighting, and let everyone know that YOU ARE STILL HERE. Share the following post on your Facebook timeline to make the promise that YOU WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING.

It's time to make a promise: we will NEVER stop fighting until all whales and dolphins are free! Share this post on your...
Posted by Blue Freedom on Friday, November 13, 2015

Also, be sure to mark your page with our Facebook cover: THEY ARE STILL THERE, I AM STILL HERE to let all your friends and followers know that you are not giving up until they are free.

And last but not least, share this blog post with all your friends and followers and SIGN THE PETITION if you haven’t already.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” 
- Harriet Beecher Stowe

From all of us at Blue Freedom, thank you for your support.  

For our oceans,
Abbie Emmons
Vice President and Co-Founder of Blue Freedom

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An Open Thank You Letter to Harry Styles

Dear Harry,

My name is Katie, and this is just a note to say thank you. Because I thought it was freaking cool that you spoke out for dolphins at one of your recent concerts.

Young adults and teenagers are the main demographic attending marine parks and swim-with-dolphins programs, we know this from statistics-- WE are the ones buying the tickets. So when I hear you tell thousands of young adults not to go to SeaWorld? I am stoked, because I can see that the end is near. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The word is getting out; we are going to end this.

When I was just a young teenager I became super inspired to get involved in the cause after the incident in 2010 involving the orca Tilikum (who is still held captive in a small pool at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL.) Our student-run organization developed from that passion, and since then I've traveled all over the country, spoken at schools internationally and given presentations about how students can totally turn this situation around. Our latest effort is a documentary called Voiceless to be released as a YouTube campaign later this year. We believe that young adults and teenagers NEED to know that they can make a difference. They need to know that we are the generation who has to end this. It's in our hands now.

Our goal is for our generation to pull its support from this outdated industry, and finally shut it down.

We have launched a petition for Tilikum's humane release to a coastal sea pen for rehabilitation, in fact its become one of the most popular 'animal petitions' on Change.Org, but our goal is one million-- and beyond. We want every young adult to know about what is going on in captivity, and we are using Tilikum's story to do that.

So you know what would be awesome? If you signed it. And shared it.

Literally. We would be really stoked if you did that. Because for the past several years, our lives have revolved around pushing for an end to this industry-- an end to the captures, an end to the slaughters, an end to this abuse being 'okay' when it is clearly not.

This is our petition: release Tilikum if you could sign and tweet about it, using the hashtag #generationBF we would be thrilled.

Thank you again for speaking out, and being an awesome example to our generation of what one person can do. Thanks for being part of the change. We support you.

For our oceans,

Katie Emmons
Founder, President
Blue Freedom
an international student movement

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Voiceless: 2014 in review -- THANK YOU

Hey everyone,

I know this is a bit of a late new-year update, but I promise there is a good reason for that: thanks to you guys, we've been crazy busy with the production of our film Voiceless!

This past year was loaded with surprises and progress for us. In late November we launched our Kickstarter with a goal of 16k, which we had reached and exceeded within the first week of the fundraiser. Over the course of 30 days, we raised a grand total of 22,542k!

What does this mean? This means Voiceless, thanks to you, will become a reality! It will be made, released, and available worldwide-- on the internet and in classrooms --for free.

Thanks to you, we blew up Kickstarter. We cannot say thank you enough for making 2014 the greatest year for Blue Freedom yet.

I can't express enough gratitude to the amazing team behind the Blue Freedom Voiceless Kickstarter project. These guys put forth the blood, sweat, tears and many, many hours of work to produce the project and get it out there. I can't thank them enough.


amazing student support in Spain

Katie speaking at "Blackfish Brigade" in Rochester, NY
Voice of The Orcas speaking at the "Blackfish Brigade" in Rochester, NY
Katie interviews former SeaWorld trainer, Carol Ray

Katie and Abbie interview and film former SeaWorld trainers Samantha Berg and John Jett

hanging out with the Voice of the Orcas team 

Interviewing Howard Garrett of the Orca Network
holding a baleen plate sample at the Orca Network's Langley Whale Center
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for constant updates on our projects, campaigns and the production of Voiceless. We appreciate and depend upon your continued support-- you fuel and inspire this movement!

This is the time, and we are the generation-- let's end captivity!

Thank you for making 2014 amazing.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Lets make Black Friday 'Blackfish Friday'!

Lets make Black Friday 'Blackfish Friday'!

The Kickstarter project for our film Voiceless is off to an awesome start thanks to all of you. We just need to get this out there: YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME SAUCE.

So let's keep this momentum going! The film Blackfish shines a light on Tilikum and plight of captive cetaceans. If you haven't seen the film, be sure to check it out. Our goal with Voiceless is to bring this vitally important information about the archaic nature of captivity to OUR generation--in a format that will be easy to share and available to everyone for free: a YouTube campaign with the potential of going viral.

So this Friday, instead of freaking out over last minute holiday shopping, what if we focused on giving freedom-- pushing for it harder than ever?

Give from your heart here, and above all else, even if you can't give right now, help us SHARE, share, share--it's a massive help:

and USE THE HASHTAGS. On Twitter, Facebook, wherever you use hashtags. USE THEM. #BlackfishFriday #VoicelessProject #BlueFreedom #GenerationBF

Love you guys!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Far. Fast. Free: A student's thoughts on the Taiji dolphin drive

September is usually one of my favorite months. The scorching heat of a midwest summer is beginning to be relieved by cooler temperatures, if only for a few hours while the weather tries to decide whether it's ready to shed its sunkissed soil and green leaves for a more barren landscape. It can be a bit of a roller coaster, but after three months of unrelenting sun and humidity, I'm more than happy to welcome the weather whiplash in exchange for some semblance of autumn.

But September always comes to me with a sense of dread. The reason for that dread is something with which most of you reading this are probably familiar with.

September 1st is a day that all of the cetacean activists throughout the world wait for with baited breath. It's the opening day of the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins, porpoises, and small whales in a hidden cove in the town of Taiji, Japan. Here is a quick rundown of what this slaughter consists of:

From September until late March, the fishermen's boats leave the harbor early in the morning in search of dolphins that migrate past Taiji this time of year. If a pod is unfortunate enough to be found, they are herded into the Cove by the use of long metal poles that are placed into the water and banged on by the fishermen. As acoustic creatures, the dolphins naturally move away from the sound and find themselves netted into the Cove, terrified, confused, and unable to escape.

The young and attractive dolphins are taken from their families to be used in the dolphin shows often seen in marine attractions and amusement parks. They'll never see their pod again and, if they fall prey to statistics, over half of them will die within their first two years of captivity. Those who survive will be condemned to a tank that will never be as large as the ocean and their days will be spent entertaining crowds and doing tricks, lest they have their meals withheld from them.

For the dolphins left in the cove, they will spend the night worrying and waiting for what the future holds. There are no studies proving that cetaceans can feel hope. And I wonder, if they can or could, do they spend that night believing in the next sunrise, holding out for the feeling of freedom that they felt just hours before? Or do they somehow know? Do they realize there's no way out of this nightmare and that this cursed cove is the last thing they will ever see?

The morning after the drive, the fishermen return to the Cove to begin a massacre that will turn the water red and stain the beaches with the lifeblood of dolphins that will spend every last forsaken moment fighting for their lives and screaming for their families. The updated method of slaughter employs the use of a metal rod which is jammed behind the blowhole, in hopes of severing the spinal cord. While this is supposed to provide a humane death, hidden footage has revealed that death is not instantaneous nor humane(watch video here). In an effort to keep the blood from spilling into the water and being filmed, the fishermen kill the dolphins under tarps and shove wooden corks into the dolphins' wounds. And when it's over and the water has stilled and everything is silent, the slain bodies will be dragged to the butcher house and processed. The meat, though contaminated with toxic levels of mercury, will be sold to the people of Japan; oftentimes it is mislabeled as whale meat in order for it to be accepted as “healthy”.

I discovered the horrors of the dolphin drives in 2012 when I took interest in the controversial captivity debate. As I researched the story behind captivity, I read mention of the slaughter and how the captivity industry helped fuel it. I saw the pictures and was understandably disturbed, but it didn't really come to life for me until I saw The Cove( The Cove is an awarding winning documentary that features former dolphin trainer turned activist, Ric O' Barry, and exposes Taiji's annual dolphin drive using covert techniques and undercover footage.

It popped up in the “Recommended For You” section of my Netflix account and I settled in to watch it.

I knew what to expect from the research I had done, but I still felt unprepared when footage of the slaughter came across the screen. I saw the innocent blood spilled in the Cove and I heard the squeals and cries of those being brutally murdered-I say murder because that's the only word I can think of to describe it as. Nothing that barbaric and drawn out could ever be considered anything else. I saw these things happen and I cried.

I am not one to cry at films. Despite being an emotional person, I find it difficult to get drawn into any film enough to legitimately shed tears.

But I cried.

I cried, I got angry, and I cried some more. I paced my floor. I opened and closed a word document. I tried to find words to describe how I felt until I finally settled on dumbfounded.

I didn't get it. I still don't. How could anyone intentionally seek out a creature of any kind and drive a metal rod into its spinal cord and watch as it thrashes in pain, desperate to keep living? How could someone participate in that and not be kept awake at night from the nightmares of what they had done?

But somehow the fishermen of Taiji manage to do just that.

It's called “tradition”. But the practice of Sati(a funeral ritual in which a widowed woman would kill herself, usually on her husband's funeral pyre) was called that as well. In similar fashion, neither dolphin slaughter nor Sati is or was accepted widely by the people within the country.

And should something filled with such cruelty ever be considered true tradition anyway?

And even if it were, traditions change because people do.

That being said, the real driving force behind this slaughter is the captive cetacean industry. The meat of a slaughtered dolphin could go for $500 while one chosen for an aquarium display goes for, on average, $32,000 with prices capable of reaching figures such as $250,000.

You do the math.

For a while after discovering what goes on in Taiji, I felt powerless.

Blatant cruelty was staring me right in the face and there wasn't a thing I could do to stop it.

But then I realized that I couldn't be more wrong.

Sure, I couldn't hop on a plane and fly down there. I couldn't really do anything to change the situation physically. But there were some things I could do:
I could write letters, send emails, sign petitions, and most importantly, use my voice in such a way that there was no way anyone who paused for a moment to listen wouldn't hear about what happens in Taiji and why it needs to be stopped.

Some of you may be thinking that one voice can't change much of anything. You're just one voice out of millions, what good does it do you?

Let me share with you what a small group of concerned people can do. In 2009, 2,500 dolphins were killed. In 2010, it dropped to 2,000. In 2012, only 800 dolphins were slaughtered. All of this is due to global pressure because groups like The Dolphin Project and the Cove Guardians answered the call to bring this cruelty to light. Why does that work?

Because when you talk to someone about something that they're passionate about, something that gets them so fired up that their voice cracks and their hands shake and their eyes glisten, how could you not be moved? This is how revolutions start. All it takes is one person to stand up and say, “No. I will not accept this.” Someone sees that person speak so bravely and a flame of inspiration ignites. And that flame touches the next person and the next and the next until the whole world is one fire because one person decided that they would not be passive.

Recently, I heard a quote that resounded deeply within me. It said, “The power of willful ignorance cannot be overstated.”

People choose to stay blissfully unaware because they're afraid. Afraid what they find might make them feel guilty about their choices. Afraid of what others might think of them. Afraid that no matter how hard they try, they might still fail.

But can the world really afford to live this way?

The dolphins of Taiji can't.

Can you?

Let yourself be heard. Shout it from the rooftops and demand an end to the slaughter until this kind of cruelty is something that our future generations will look back on and not be able to imagine. Because unless we do, the dolphins will continue to be massacred, the people of Japan will continue to consume toxic meat, cetaceans will continue to languish in pools in what could be argued as existence, not living. And it will continue in this vicious cycle of capture, kill, and deceive until we decide to stop it.
The dolphins are counting on you. There's a day coming where they won't have to worry about what might happen if a boat passes by because it's full of people who want them to be free to swim as far and as fast as they please. But it's up to you to bring that future to them.

Be their voice.

Be brave.

Be the change.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Voiceless film update: interview with Howard Garrett

In May, we headed out to Whidbey Island, WA to spend some time exploring, filming and interviewing. While unfortunately we missed the southern resident Orca (J,K,L,) pods on  this trip, we did get to witness and shoot some great imagery of baleen whales, (Minkes and Grays) off the coast.

It was thrilling and a complete privilege to be able to witness these creatures up close and personal. There are really no words to describe the feeling of being close to these massive, wild beings.

Most exciting, however, was the opportunity we had to interview Howard Garrett, co-founder of the Orca Network. We visited Howard and Orca Network co-founder Susan Berta at their picturesque home on Whidbey Island to film an interview that will be featured in our upcoming YouTube film campaign, Voiceless.

Getting to sit down and talk about Orcas with Howard was a great privilege for me, as in my early activism I read his papers and studies released through the Orca Network's website religiously, and gained much insight on what directions Blue Freedom should take based on the facts and statistics I discovered.

Katie Emmons, founder and president of Blue Freedom, and Howard Garrett, co-founder and president of Orca Network

In addition to our initial interview, we also talked with Howard about Lolita, her current situation and what actions are being taken now to urge for her humane return to her home in Washington waters.

Quoting from the Orca Networks website, here are some great and simple ways that you can participate in helping us reach the goal: Lolita's freedom from 40 years in captivity.

"Please contact Palace Entertainment and ask that Lolita be released back into the waters of her birth. Please be courteous and concise, and simply express your wishes for Lolita in a positive way. We are not aware of the intentions of the company, so this is to acquaint the new owners with the groundswell of public opinion in favor of Lolita's return to her home waters."
 Fernando Eiroa, President and CEO
c/o Palace Entertainment
4590 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Email: Fernando Eiroa

 or use the online comment form

Not sure what to say in your comments to Palace Entertainment? Here's a quick, simple but effective message:

Dear Palace Entertainment,
I am a concerned citizen, urging you to make the right decision in the case of Lolita the orca whale who has been held captive in Miami, FL for the past 40 years. 
Captivity of intelligent, sentient cetaceans is an outdated and unethical practice, and it is now viewed internationally in a very negative light. It is a thing of the past and not the future.
Please take this opportunity to shine as an innovative company by returning Lolita to her native waters for rehabilitation. It is the right thing to do, and I urge you to make this positive decision. 
Thank you.

Track updates about this project for Lolita's release here. Also, be sure to like up the Orca Network's Facebook page to stay up to date on this campaigns progress.

In addition to these updates, we also interview Howard about the upcoming film Fragile Waters, about the endangered Southern Resident orcas. "The film will create awareness of this fragile population of orcas, and inspire people to work together to help bring back our endangered orcas, and the endangered salmon they depend upon to survive." (Read more here.)

Our exclusive interview with Howard about the film should be up soon-- so keep your eyes peeled.