Exchanging Words and Whale Calls with Dune Ives of Lonely Whale

Two things you ought to be aware of before we get into this interview. 1. We’re sorta fond of whales. 2. We fond of people that are fond of whales. So when Lonely Whale—a new oceanic conservation initiative backed by Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner—said they were down to hop on the line with us to discuss the enormously lovable marine animals (and how they plan on helping one lonely whale find a mate), we were stoked.

Submerge yourself in our interview with their charismatic executive director, Dune Ives, below.

Alright let’s get right to it. You fell off a watercraft somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle and through a series of unforeseeable events, you were able to transform a species of whale of your choosing. Which type and why?

Oh, that’s easy. I would transform into a Narwhal. First, who wouldn’t want to be the unicorn of the sea?! Second, there is something so mysterious, beautiful and magical about the Narwhal and even though it might not like the warm waters of the Bermuda Triangle, it seems fitting it would live in an equally mysterious location — chilly Arctic waters!

Photo and story by @toddthimios #WhaleWednesday A few years ago me and some friends set out on one of those spontaneous dive afternoons out of Mo’orea Tahiti with no expectations just happy to be out on the water and feeling optimistic. What we came across was one of the most incredible scenes underwater I’ve ever witnessed. For over 2 hours this mother humpback slowly pushed her day old calf to the surface for air. So naturally and repetitive, just like she was on auto pilot. Up and down .. Giving me and my friends one of the most beautiful displays of maternal instinct in nature imaginable. Photo by @toddthimios #NaturalWonders #NaturePhotography #wod #Oceans #OceanArt #OceanLove #ocean #UnderWater #UnderwaterMuseum #underwaterphotography

A photo posted by Lonely Whale (@lonelywhale) on

Glad we got that covered. For our followers who aren’t aware, what is the story behind your initiative?

The Lonely Whale Foundation was named after a very real whale, also known as 52Hz, who has been swimming the Pacific calling out at a frequency, 52, that no other whale has been known to call at before or since. Other whales can’t hear him but remarkably we can — thanks in part to technology and also our human drive for discovery! While he has been swimming the ocean by himself, we’ve been dumping toxins, marine debris and noise pollution into the ocean and causing it to warm and acidify. What 52 needs is his own virtual pod working on his behalf to improve ocean health. His pod of ocean advocates will work to create empathy for marine life, inspiring direct action that creates a healthier marine environment so when he finds a mate he can thrive – not just survive!

You guys have gained a lot of traction on social media since your launch this past December. Was there a particular event that helped foster that? Or was it gradual attraction?

We’re spending a lot of time thinking about how we frame our communications. What words, phrases and images resonate with our target audience and how do we communicate with them through existing channels and platforms. It’s no accident but, honestly, having Richard Branson in a merman tail and Adrian Grenier doing a naked cannonball doesn’t hurt either!

The 52 Hertz Whale noise. It’s got its own Wikipedia page and a Soundcloud audio track with 100k+ listens. What exactly is it and how does it figure into your cause?

Whale songs have captivated us for decades beginning first with the Roger Payne recordings of 1969 and release of his Capitol Records album in 1970. When we first heard the song of the humpback we were compelled to save it. So I’m not surprised that 52 has such a following. These songs are what whales use to speak to each other. That 52 speaks at a different frequency than other whales is a fascinating finding in itself. What were the conditions that caused his song to be different? Why can we hear him but no other whale can? His story and his song motivates people to tell their own story of loneliness, isolation and being unheard. It is very powerful.

We recently read the article ”Ordering Change: How Restaurants & Chefs are Driving the Sustainable Seafood Market,” that you (Ives) wrote for the Huffington Post about sustainable seafood. Why has this become such a hot topic now, and is it a shift we can expect to continue growing into other food markets?

Nearly 90% of our global fisheries are over-fished or fully fished. That’s not a good thing especially when considering that the majority of the world’s population relies on seafood as their primary source of protein. To turn the tide we need to support restaurants, chefs and fishermen/women who are leading the charge to define a new way of cultivating and harvesting seafood. The sustainable seafood movement is resonating with customers and with restauranteurs and we should only expect it to grow in market share.

We saw that Richard Branson challenged Adrian Grenier to the 2016 Virgin Strive Challenge and he accepted. Can you run us through what the challenge entails, and if Adrian’s attempt will be live streamed on Snapchat?

On World Ocean Day Richard Branson challenged Adrian Grenier to swim the channel between Italy and Sicily. This is a 3.3km open water swim through the waters where the scylla and charybdis live (pretty righteous currents). The challenge is really a metaphor that when we work together we can go further, faster. Adrian will be sharing throughout the summer how his training is going and we are grateful to already have had input from Greg Long and Bruckner Chase on how to physically and mentally prepare for the swim. We can’t yet share the way the swim will be live streamed but suffice it to say we’ll keep everyone posted on how Adrian fares and who “wins” the swim.

Talk to us about the Whale-D experience. Is it IMAX style? Or next level virtual reality?

What I can say right now about the documentary film is that there are tears shed. It’s an incredible story and I’m so excited for what the Director Josh Zeman is doing with the content with the scientists at the helm. I’m also really excited that our partner, Dell, is working now to create an app out of their 4D VR Lonely Whale “Cry Out” experience that has been shown across the country.

It seems like you guys are moving full speed ahead. How can ocean lovers that wish to be more active get involved with Lonely Whale?

The easiest thing is to become a friend of the Lonely Whale. Join our community by following us at @LonelyWhale and importantly tell us how the ocean and water bodies like lakes and rivers inspire you by tagging #MakeASplash. Our campaign lasts all summer long and on September 27th we will make the “splash heard around the world” to kick start our ocean health revolution. Soon we’ll launch a really lovely partnership with Bucketfeet with a call to all artists to design a limited edition Lonely Whale + Bucketfeet shoe.

We want to be inspired by your art and this is a great way to do it! And, take action that is meaningful to you – carpool with a friend, ask your restaurant server to tell you the story of the seafood you are about to eat, say no to single-use plastics like straws, water bottles and bags. Most importantly, ask a friend to join you in your work to improve ocean health and then tell us about it so we can share it with others and inspire them to do equally as great work. #TeamLonelyWhale