How climate change has accelerated a collision between one of the world's most endangered species, N. America's most valuable fishery, and a federal agency mandated to protect both.
Directed by David Abel
Produced by David Abel, Andy Laub, Lise King
Editor: Andy Laub
Cinematography: David Abel, Giulia Campos
Sound Design/Soundtrack: Andy Laub
Animation: Emily Guo
A film by David Abel & Andy Laub
ENTANGLED chronicles the efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales from extinction, the impacts of those efforts on the lobster industry, and how the National Marine Fisheries Service has struggled to balance the vying interests.
"[H]ighly educational as it leads the viewer through the complexities of efforts to save an endangered species on the brink of extinction." Janet Mann, Prof. Biology, Georgetown U
There are now estimated to be about 350 right whales, making them among the planet's most endangered species. The main threat to their survival, scientists say: millions of lobster lines that stretch from New England up through Atlantic Canada, standard gear for North America's most valuable fishery. Exacerbating that threat is climate change, which has sparked a collapse in the whale's food supply in the warming waters of the Gulf of Maine, forcing them to search for food in areas where they had rarely been seen before. As a result, their population has been plummeting.
From David Abel & Andy Laub, award-winning producers of Lobster War, Sacred Cod, and Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys.
Grade Level: 9 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2021
Copyright Date: 2021
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-62-3
"A brilliant and truly outstanding film, profoundly disturbing, laying out the evidence on the role that humanity continues to play in their demise, and shining a light on how we hold the fate of these incredible creatures in our hands."
Peter J. Auster, Research Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
"Beyond phenomenal...A tremendously excellent job with this film. It's powerful, thought-provoking, and sure to make a difference."
Kim Kirchberg-Sawicki, Fulbright Fellow, University of Connecticut
"Entangled is a cry from the heart for the most endangered large whale on the planet, one who has barely survived centuries of persecution only to suffer slow death by entanglement in lobstering lines, ship strikes, a warming climate, and sluggish bureaucrats who confuse process with progress. Ultimately there is only one thing that matters: will humans switch from slowly exterminating the right whale to ensuring this magnificent creature's survival? Entangled shows poignantly and yet forcefully that things must change - and that the knowledge exists to make the right choice."
Carl Safina, Author, Ecologist, Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity, Stony Brook University
"This powerful and effective film lays out two fundamental structural problems in current efforts at conservation as a whole: When we face tough challenges, we replace 'process' with results. Entangled shows clearly that management measures need to be biologically effective, not just politically palatable. Second, this film reveals the fallacy and cost of nostalgia - fishing communities wrap themselves in the mantle of tradition to avoid accountability for the consequences of their very modern, and in this case destructive, fishing practices. As we fish right now, the right whale will be yet another sacrifice at the altar of inertia, convenience, and human indifference. How many animals and species have to die for our reluctance to change?"
Matthew McKenzie, Professor of History, University of Connecticut, Author, Breaking the Banks and Clearing the Coastline
"Director David Abel analyzes the dilemma with clarity, evenhandedness, and empathy. But hopes of a resolution have been complicated by politics."
Peter Keough, The Boston Globe
"Compelling and insightful...Entangled presents the harsh realities of right whale conservation efforts and the myriad factors that make addressing this issue both timely and imperative. In this incredibly well-researched film, we are confronted with the challenges faced by the people and communities on the front line that are striving to save a critically endangered species while maintaining the livelihoods of the people whose work puts whales at risk. The longer this takes to be resolved the closer these whales will be to extinction."
Ari Friedlaender, Associate Researcher, Institute for Marine Sciences, University of California-Santa Cruz
"Exceptionally well designed...Vivid...Rich with information...Entangled motivates us to explore further in fields that range from biology and oceanography to economics, anthropology, and political science. Governance is particularly salient, as the film shows a federal agency, NOAA, working in a participatory process with individuals, states, non-profit organizations, and the courts, struggling to balance the needs of both whales and lobstering communities."
Bonnie McCay, Professor Emerita of Human Ecology, Rutgers University
"A brilliant film that brings the difficult conversations to the forefront, while encouraging a solutions-based approach by all sides that is urgently needed to help save our marine life, our oceans, and ultimately ourselves...[The film] presents the current plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale with a balanced perspective showcasing the complex and disturbing effects of climate change and human interaction on an already endangered species."
Ana Blanco, Executive Director, International Ocean Film Festival
"Haunting and piercing...The film is highly educational as it leads the viewer through the complexities of efforts to save an endangered species on the brink of extinction. Entangled traces the biology of the whales, the history of whaling, and how scientists are now trying to save them. I would show this to university students and those interested in environmental policy, political science, and marine science. Some hope is offered by industries working to solve the technological challenges of a 'ropeless fishery' - but, are these promising changes coming too late for the whales?"
Janet Mann, Professor of Biology and Psychology, Georgetown University, Author, Deep Thinkers: Inside the Minds of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises
"Entangled highlights two of the many threats facing critically endangered North Atlantic right whales - accidental entanglements in fishing gear and politics. The film artfully captures the diverse perspectives of various stakeholders whose lives are entangled in the fate of this critically endangered species."
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Executive Director, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), North America
"This beautiful film captures North American right whales and the scientists, policymakers, and advocates who want to prevent their extinction. The filmmakers highlight the trade-offs in fisheries management and the lives affected by policy changes. A great film for any educator who wants to expose students to multiple perspectives surrounding natural resource management."
Dave Love, Associate Scientist, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University
"The plight of the North Atlantic right whale is dire, and Entangled tells so well the story of the complexities and frustrations conservationists and fishermen face to resolve the situation - finding common ground to preserve industry and the whales through new gear innovations and stronger policies is imperative! Thank you for bringing attention to the heart wrenching impact human activities that continue to plague the NARW and talking about the hard work of many to find a way to work together to save these beautiful animals. Bravo!"
Christina Connett Brophy, Chief Curator, The New Bedford Whaling Museum
"Powerful...conservation-focused...Told with respect for culture, livelihood and wildlife, Entangled shines a bright light on North Atlantic right whales, urgently exposing the long legacy of human pressures, the contemporary and impactful dynamics of a changing ocean environment, and the complication of government oversight across two nations, and does so with reverence for a species whose magnificent presence may well fade to dark over the next generation."
Dr. Jeff Boehm, Chief Executive Officer, The Marine Mammal Center
"Outstanding film...Entangled brings us into the world of these ocean giants and into the lives of people intertwined with them. Beautifully filmed, with a journalistic style, this film leads us on a journey through the threats, conflicts, and solutions, while leaving us pondering the fate of a species whose existence hangs in the balance. An important story artfully told, through science and human emotion."
Brian Skerry, award-winning underwater photographer and National Geographic Photography Fellow
"Entangled tells the tangled story of why North Atlantic right whales are in deep trouble, caught not only in fishing gear but in the middle of the lobster fishing industry, science, conservation and politics. This film, perfect for students and community groups, lays it all out. What's next for the North Atlantic right whale? This is what every viewer of this insightful, action-packed film has to answer."
Erich Hoyt, Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Author, Orca: The Whale Called Killer and Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises
"Entangled expertly presents both sides of a contentious issue with equal understanding. [The film] doesn't just fit the problem of right whale entanglement into one box - [it] carefully explains the nuanced effects of climate change and fishing regulation until the viewer can make their own educated judgement. In a world full of knee-jerk outrage, this approach is a breath of ocean air."
Julia Dunlavey, Maine Film Center
"Entangled skillfully navigates the complex conflicts surrounding right whales, balancing a wide range of perspectives, a careful representation of the oceanography, and a sense of urgency. This is a story, still unfolding, that everyone should be aware of."
Nicholas Record, Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
"Even-handed and information-packed...The responsible federal agency faces the conflicting mandates of preventing extinction of an endangered species while promoting a sustainable fishery that is the primary source of whale mortality. Masterfully filmed and richly illustrated, Entangled is highly recommended for high school, college, and community audiences engaged in ocean conservation issues."
Mark Hixon, Professor and Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i
|Reduced rates for activist and grassroots groups. Please inquire.
DVD includes optional English SDH captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and scene selection
Awards and Festivals
Best Non-Broadcast Film, Jackson Wild Media Awards
Best Feature Film, International Wildlife Film Festival
John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award, Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Best Conservation Film, International Ocean Film Festival
Best Wildlife Film, Livable Planet Film Festival
Best Conservation Film, Mystic Film Festival
Best Feature Film, Water Docs Film Festival
Finalist for Best Feature Film, Blue Water Film Festival.
Woods Hole Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
American Conservation Film Festival
GlobeDocs Film Festival
Friday Harbor Film Festival
Monadnock Film Festival
Silver Wave Film Festival
Ocean City Film Festival
Climate Change/Global Warming
Oceans and Coasts
Climate-changed ocean temperatures shift New England's lobster fishery across national boundaries, sparking international tension.
Captures the collapse of the historic cod population in New England, delving into the effects of overfishing, climate change and government policies on fishermen and the fish.
Bluefin tuna is a thousand-pound warm-blooded giant with gills, which wholesales at up to a million dollars, and which is caught in an oceanic "last of the buffalo hunt."
No Fear No Favor
African communities on the front lines of the poaching crisis fight to protect their wildlife for future generations.
The God Squad and the Case of the Northern Spotted Owl
A rare, behind-the-scenes look at the way politics shape environmental policy.
The End of the Line
The first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. Based on the book by Charles Clover.
Empty Oceans, Empty Nets
Examines the global marine fisheries crisis and the efforts to implement sustainable fishing practices.
The Science of Whales
The latest discoveries about whale behavior and communication and the grave danger posed by new U.S. Navy sonar technology.
The story of Luna, a young wild killer whale, who challenged the established order of things when he tried to make friends with people.
For the Whales
Writers, artists, and musicians celebrate the whale.
... more Reviews
"Entangled takes on the intertwined issues of extinction and climate change with an extremely charged example: the North Atlantic right whale and entanglement in buoy lines for lobster traps in New England. The potential for extinction is linked to climate change, as well as the fishery, because the warming ocean is causing shifts in the whales' main food species to intersect traditional lobstering grounds. This excellent teaching tool documents the many perspectives in this complex situation in a very clear way. One cannot come to this problem from any one point of view and not be shown the alternative points of view - the best situation for education."
Margaret Leinen, Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California-San Diego
"With extraordinary right whale footage and a series of well-chosen, well-balanced interviews from people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, Entangled tells the story of the decades-long dispute between lobstermen and environmentalists over the survival of the North Atlantic Right Whale, while pointing directly at the solution. Through human ingenuity and understanding, we can learn how to come together to save both the right whales and ultimately ourselves. I loved this film."
Leigh Calvez, Author, The Breath of a Whale
"This is a sad, beautiful, and powerful presentation on the plight of both right whales and lobstermen. Conflict is always difficult to resolve, but the future of this whale depends upon positive resolution. Data don't lie and extinction is forever."
Sandra Shumway, Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
"Surprisingly even-handed...Both sides meet to find a solution, and there are sacrifices on each side. But lagging fulfillment prompts lawsuits, negotiations, and protests. Other scientists are testing line-free traps, hoping to eliminate the lines altogether. Meanwhile, the whale population continues to decline. This is a beautifully shot, fascinating look at a complex problem."
Candace Smith, Booklist
"Entangled finds ample room for many different perspectives connected to this problem...This movie explains what can and should be done, and ends with the encouraging news that US federal court rulings may help to protect the whales."
"Highly Recommended...Showing all perspectives on the issue and explaining the hurdles in activism creates a valuable balance and makes this documentary an excellent educational resource. Apart from the very informative content, this documentary is also superbly filmed with extraordinary scenes on the ocean where we can witness close-up the preventable suffering of these endangered whales. Entangled is well-suited for courses in environmental studies, political science, biology, economics, and other disciplines that want to explore responsible and sustainable stewardship of the planet. The film provides an excellent example of human efforts to collaborate on environmental solutions that are vital to all of us."
Angela Walker, Eastern Connecticut State University, Educational Media Reviews Online