New Documentary Film Sounds Alarm About the Threat of Extinction to Sea Turtles
Forest Knolls, CA — The nonprofit Sea Turtle Restoration Project has released the new documentary, Last Journey for the Leatherback? by the Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Stan Minasian (dir. The Last Days of the Dolphins?, The Free Willy Story: Keiko’s Journey Home). The documentary will be screened during the Northeast Environmental Conference on Friday, October 15, 2004 at 9:30 pm in Alfred Lerner Hall of Columbia University, New York City.

“Sea turtles are really symbolic of what’s happening to the oceans as a whole. As go sea turtles, so go, will go, the ocean,” explains Dr. Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, in the stunning natural duotone opening sequence of the film as dozens of newly hatched leatherback sea turtles crawl to the water under the moonlight.

Scientists predict that the giant Pacific leatherback sea turtle, which has survived unchanged for over 100 million years, could vanish in the next 5 to 30 years, if current threats from wasteful industrial longline fishing are not curtailed. The female nesting population of leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean has collapsed by 95 per cent in the past 20 years. The leatherback is the largest sea turtle, measuring nine feet from head to tail with the largest ever recorded tipping the scales at 2,000 lbs.

Last Journey for the Leatherback? is a hard hitting documentary that combines science, activism and rare footage of endangered sea turtles, to tell the gripping story of sea turtles, the new icon of the ocean environmental movement. Sea turtles are quickly reaching the status of dolphins and whales and conservationists are becoming increasingly alarmed and active in their fight to save these gentle giants, and to stop the wide-spread impacts on the world’s ocean ecosystems. After the premiere Last Journey for the Leatherback? will move to the festival circuit and eventual broadcast on the Caribbean Broadcast Union, Link TV (US, DirecTV and Dish Network, and PBS (US),

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• Film and video reviewers: to receive a preview copy of the documentary or attend call Robert at 415-488-0370 x 106 or email

• Interviews with filmmaker Stan Minasian and Dr. Sylvia Earle may be arranged

• San Francisco Chronicle preview of the documentary available at:

Film Synopsis

The Last Journey for the Leatherback?

(Dir. Stanley M. Minasian in conjunction with Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity, Beta SP, stereo sound, 27:50 min., 2004)

Appearances by: Dr. Carl Safina, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Frank Paladino, Dr. Larry Crowder, Randall Arauz

Shot in the US and Costa Rica

The Last Journey for the Leatherback? documents the incredible life of the leatherbacks – the largest species of sea turtle — which can dive as deep as the whales and migrate across entire ocean basins. Much of the story is told through interviews with leading marine scientists, including Dr. Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and named Time magazine’s first “hero for the planet.”

The Last Journey for the Leatherback? also details the threat industrial fishing poses to their survival. Every year, industrial fishing boats set billions of baited “longline” hooks and millions of miles of nets to catch swordfish and tuna. These hooks and nets are prime causes in the decline of the leatherbacks