North Pacific Ocean, 1989. The largest mammal inhabiting earth cries out for companionship at a frequency higher than that of any whale previously recorded. There’s something heart-wrenchingly beautiful about this giant, unseen creature searching for its soulmate with such determination. Of course, we still don’t know that this is the case — just like we still don’t know the whale’s gender or even species.
Its migratory patterns point towards those of a blue whale, leading artists and creatives alike to depict ‘52 blue’ — or the ‘Loneliest Whale in the World’ –– as being mottled blue-grey in colour with long grooves running lengthwise down its throat and chest and a pale yellow underbelly.
Either way, it’s certainly a story that has captured the imagination of people around the world and one that’s prompted an intense reaction among many to fight to save our blue planet. Among those making their mark are leaders of the aptly named, Lonely Whale.
Emma Riley, Director of Strategic Partnerships, was Lonely Whale’s first recruit. “Lucy Sumner, our co-founder, hired me about a year prior to the launch of our organisation to work on the development of a documentary focused on ocean conservation efforts,” she said. “This work evolved into launching Lonely Whale, as Adrian Grenier, our other co-founder, was also a producer on the film.”
Emma cites a report published last year by The Guardian as being particularly shocking. “We’re now finding plastic in our sea salt,” she says. “I don’t know about you, but I love to cook and when I read that, I was heartbroken. Not only are we cooking plastic when we cook and consume seafood, but we are choosing to sprinkle it on our food as well.”
Of course, a huge contributor to the increase in ocean plastic is drinking straws, and Lonely Whale recently made headlines with its ‘Strawless Ocean’ initiative. “Our goal was to bring together ocean health leaders who are working to raise awareness and drive measurable impact around single-use plastics,” says Emma.
So far, over 50 leading ocean health NGOs and creative media partners have supported the global initiative, with collaborators everywhere from Europe to South America. The initiative also supports Lonely Whale’s #StopSucking and Strawless In Seattle campaigns.
And they are keen to continue collaborating with more unique brands. Emma names Hip Hop Caucus as being one of Lonely Whale’s strongest collaborations. “They are an impressive organisation which empowers communities who are impacted first and worst by social and environmental injustice,” she says.
According to the 2016 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, “the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025” –– therefore making this an even bigger problem for future generations.
Emma says that now more than ever, young people’s voices are vital in influencing global culture and decision-making. “Understanding the power of this growing global audience and with the goal of empowering the next generation of ocean health leaders, we partnered with the Captain Planet Foundation and Point Break Foundation to launch the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp.”
The programme is designed for young people between the ages of 11 to 18 –– the youngest of whom will graduate high school by the year 2025. “Through strategic youth engagement, the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp aims to empower the generation which may be most impacted by the plastic pollution crisis, and who have the potential of driving positive ocean impact at scale through their immediate actions,” says Emma.
Lonely Whale was recently named one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies of 2019 and will be at the Responsible Business Summit in London this June. For more information and to keep up to date with their latest announcements, check out their website.