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Back from the Brink: Elephant seals have a remarkable comeback

The Northern Pacific Elephant Seal was thought to be extinct until a small population was discovered on an island of Baja California in 1892. Since then, the species has staged a remarkable comeback thanks to protective measures adopted by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Male elephant seals. Photo courtesy of Christopher J. Gervais.

“Beachmaster,” a new film by Christopher J. Gervais and Stan Minasian, tells the conservation success story of their recovery. His first documentary film, Gervais teamed up with Stan Minasian, an award-winning filmmaker with over thrity years of experience. While “Beachmaster” is slated for completion in 2014, the trailer for the documentary will be shown for the first time on Friday, February 1st at the 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival.

Although Gervais never formally studied filmmaking, after he founded and became president of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festivals, he told MongaBay that he began to see film as a way to, “make an impact to help preserve biodiversity.” He considers the most exciting part of his job is, “Being in the field to see, smell and hear these animals … I feel alive when I am in front of [them].”

“It is always my hope that my films and that of other wildlife documentary filmmakers will bring about change to protect endangered species and habitat, strengthen and enforce laws and change policy,” Gervais told to MongaBay. “I hope that public interest in conservation increases so the world does not have to wait until a habitat is nearly destroyed and a species nearly vanished to have protection.”

The 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival ( runs from January 30 – February 2, 2013. Ahead of the event, is running a series of Q&As with filmmakers and presenters. For more interviews, please see our WCFF feed.

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