There might be some new visitors to the website soon, hope you enjoy! Unfortunately I wish it was under better circumstances.
On July 2nd, I booked a whale watching trip for myself in San Diego. I was the only passenger aboard. We got out pretty deep and after observing some Common Dolphin we came across some Blue Whales, who at the time appeared to be doing deep dives in one spot indicating that they were feeding down deep in a specific area. We left the blue whales to observe some bottlenose dolphin, who were a lot of fun to watch.
We went back over to the Blue Whales because it appeared as if more showed up, after some more observation, we noticed the whales begin to lunge feed at the surface. Although the Captain was trying to follow from behind and off to the side (approximately the whale's 7 o'clock position) the whale took a sharp right turn in front of us. Suddenly we did not know where the whale was, it could have been anywhere. Per proper whale watching etiquette the Captain stopped the boat to wait for the whale to come up before moving away from the animal.
I cannot stress enough that the Captain was doing her best NOT to get too close to these animals, and that she did her best to follow proper procedure. It was a freak accident that is very rare for whale watching boats. I have heard of similar incidents in other parts of the world, but not with Blue Whales.
Unfortunately for us, the Blue Whales eventually resurfaced directly behind the boat without warning, mouths completely open in the middle of another lunge feed. We had little time to react. At the time I had two GoPro Cameras mounted pointing directly in front of the boat, one of them caught me turning to see the whale and snap a photo of the first whale making contact with the boat. The second blue whale of the pair then came up even closer and bumped the boat again, giving it the last bit of inertia it needed to go completely overboard.
We were picked up by a nearby vessel who had also been watching the whales. I am eternally grateful to the captain and passengers of that vessel, who responded quickly to our plight. Neither I or the Captain was injured aside from a few scrapes and bruises (and yes, also our pride.) After a few hours we made it back to shore courtesy of the great people of Vessel Assist.
Nobody in their right mind would want something like this to happen, I have been a very strong advocate of proper boating around whales, and even though I was not operating the vessel at the time I feel terrible that it did occur. This is NOT how I wanted to make national headlines with a photo.
The most important thing is that no one was injured, and that the heroes of this story are the people who got us out of the water. But I think it is also important to acknowledge the many people who believe we were trying to get that close to the whales, all I can offer you is my sincerest assurance that we were not. There is a reason I like camera lenses with long ranges and a wide field of vision. I can also assure you that the whales weren't hurt, as they continued to feed nearby for hours afterward (observed from our rescuer's boat, and from Vessel Assist.) It was an accident, the one in a million risk that you take when going into the deep ocean on a small boat. I would hope that the video proves we were just completely taken by surprise.
My phone is at the bottom of the ocean as i write this, hopefully some overzealous fish doesn't burn through all of my data. You can write me at email@example.com. I apologize if I am slow to respond to media inquiries, this is all very new to me.
At this time I will no longer be disseminating the video or photo to any additional outlets. Limited permission for reuse was only granted to the news anchors I spoke with upon returning to shore and I will not be granting requests for TV interviews at this time.
My reason being is that I feel the information for the story is out there, and whoever wants to cover it can cover it. I answered a small number of questions for local San Diego news outlets, TV, Radio, and Print, so that my first hand account was on the record. If I were to make this into a media tour, the only people who would benefit are the media outlets, and myself, and that is not why I do what I do.
I apologize to everyone who might be inconvenienced by this, but there are other things of greater importance here. This is not how I wanted my work to get popular, this is not how I want my material to generate buzz. Now that the story has been covered and my public statements are out there, I will still answer limited questions via email but at this point I will decline all requests to reuse the copyrighted material until a time where there is a greater benefit to the public at large. I have contacted NOAA and offered them full use of photos and videos from that day should they want it, and grant them full permission to use the material in educational capacities should they wish to do so.
Updates on www.dalefrink.com, the online store, and to the facebook page will resume on July 8th, 2014. I have a long weekend of work ahead of me, and my anniversary is on Monday. It was my dad's birthday Wednesday, i'm thinking of giving him a framed picture of a blue whale nearly devouring his son but maybe it's too soon for THAT joke. Ah well.
Sadly, the video and photo have spread very far very fast without my consent, and at least one Youtube user has uploaded it multiple times and is making money off the ads. I did not wan't to do this, but I don't have much choice. I'm likely going to be licensing the video with a media company who will then monitor and protect the copyright in exchange for a cut of the profits. Which I'll agree to since i'll be using generated funds to raise money for dolphins and whales. I am soliciting suggestions on the Dale Frink Photography Facebook page.
Monetizing is NOT what I wanted to do with this, but the copyright theft is too much for me time and stress to handle on my own, so i'll put the money to a good cause. There's going to be a lot of 10+ hour days in my near future out on the water, and i'm not going to spend every minute online tracking down thieves.
There continue to be a lot of interesting comments around online that proves more people watch the video than read the accompanying stories, and that proves that not every media outlet cares about getting the facts straight. It's rather disconcerting, but it's not as bothersome as I thought it would be. The fact that people are making money off the copyrighted material is pretty lame though.
I did get a photo ID shot of at least one of the whales I think impacted the boat, which means there is a chance that I could recognize it this summer. I'll just look for the one with a slightly used Galaxy S4.
The video has been licensed. A portion of all proceeds, no less than fifty percent, from the licensing of this video will be contributed in some form to the American Cetacean Society and other organization that work hard in defense of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises.
I recently learned from Storyful that it will take some time for any payments to come in, but I was told to expect things to start coming in around October. As soon as I have any actual figures I will make them transparent on this page and on facebook.
The excitement has died down to the point to where this doesn't need to be advertised on the front page of my site, I am keeping the page and will continue to update it, but the link is now in the Blog section of the website.
Well, as bummed out as I am about this, it qualifies as a first world problem and thus, I refuse to let it bring me down.
I received the first statement for payment from licensing the now infamous blue whale video today. As you may know I previously pledged part of the proceeds to the American Cetacean Society because I wanted to send the clear and concise message that this was not only a freak accident, but it is also something I would not be proud of to exploit commercially.
The total came to less than 70 euros, which works out to about $90.
Unfortunately I made a mistake in judgment trusting CBS not to spread the video beyond what I had asked. CBS in turn spread the video to outlets nationwide and, in my opinion, illegally shared that video with CNN and other outlets across the world. When I went to officially license my video, the news outlets around the world had spread the video rapidly and greatly minimized my ability to properly protect the content. This in turn led to revenue for those news outlets who weren't supposed to have the footage, but also for pirates who steal news content, put them on their own youtube accounts, and then generate money from page clicks. One particular pirate had put up three identical versions on youtube and garnered nearly 80,000 views within a day.
The lesson I have learned is to be EXTREMELY careful when sharing content, but also not to trust local news affiliates. Along with many outlets getting parts of the story completely wrong, they were also very quick to gain notoriety for themselves at my expense. The reporter in San Diego took the liberty of taking my GoPro while I was being interviewed with the Coast Guard and not only examining it but using it in his broadcast without my consent. When I did the interview, I wanted to show that I had nothing to hide, and I wanted to make it clear that it was an accident and that boating safely around whales is extremely important. Unfortunately this was not taken into account by many reporters. I have also learned that, while journalism is an important profession, journalists still run the same gamut of morality that the general public does. I have met both some of the most outstanding and some of the sleazier reporters I have ever encountered during this ordeal.
Because the money generated was so low, I have contributed a full $100 to the American Cetacean Society. This is independent of the other ways I already continue to support that organization. The donation was made as I write this post via paypal.
Plus, I have been very fortunate that almost everyone who has spoken to me throughout this has been supportive. There are a few "haters" out there, plus a few people that continue to believe things that are blatantly untrue. I for one have no regrets about how I conducted myself, despite my failure to protect my video from CBS in San Diego.
I wanted to be forthcoming with the details, and I turned down numerous opportunities to publicize myself because I felt it was the right thing to do. There is a time and a place to stand on a public platform when it is offered to you. I do not think an accident involving an endangered species that also nearly cost a woman her entire business is something that I want to gain from.
Dale Frink Photography was started because I wanted to share what I am seeing with the world, and to offer the opportunity for people to bring pictures of the natural world into their homes if they so desired. The line between fame and infamy is a line that must be walked carefully, or not at all.
Hopefully the next time something like this happens it will be a legitimately momentous occasion, perhaps even joyous. I hope the eyes of the world will take as much notice as that time as they did in this.
(This post is being cross posted on the Dale Frink Photography Facebook Page)