COEXTINCTION is a very personal story to me. I grew up fascinated with orcas, watching every documentary, reading every book, and learning everything I could about this animal. When I was 10 years old, I saw orcas for the first time off the coast of British Columbia. It was clear then that I would spend my life working with them.
My early career was focused on how I could help them in captivity, but I never would have imagined they’d be threatened in the wild as well. In 2017, upon learning the remaining 78 Southern Resident orcas were on the verge of extinction, I moved to a small island in the Salish Sea to monitor them, spending countless hours on the water studying their behavioral patterns. I witnessed first hand how dire the situation was.
Through COEXTINCTION, I want people to learn from these orcas. They are incredibly emotionally intelligent beings who celebrate and grieve together. They have no home — they are each other’s home. They work together through adversity and have learned how to coexist. They embody the interconnectedness we need to understand, and are intimately connected to the Indigenous communities we need to listen to.
In 2017, I travelled to British Columbia to learn more about the endangered Southern Resident orcas. I was following a curiosity and filming content for a wildlife conservation brand I’d built, One Species. Little did I know then just how deeply involved in the story of the Southern Resident orcas I’d become, and just how drastically that trip would alter my path.
From the get-go with COEXTINCTION, I was interested in the big picture: What’s happening to the orca’s ecosystem? What is this indicator species trying to tell us?
This is what led us to the concept of “coextinction” — the loss of a species, resulting in the loss or disappearance of other species that depend on it. We sometimes forget that the extinction of a species doesn’t happen in isolation, it’s often the result of the vulnerability and degradation of the relationships between that species and other life. Coextinction affects us all, everywhere, and on a global scale.
I’ve put my heart and soul into this project and I’m moved beyond measure by what I’ve seen and learned over the last few years. All life is interconnected, humans not excluded. If audiences can understand this through COEXTINCTION, we may be able to save the Southern Resident orcas, the Pacific Northwest, and ourselves.