Just in time for Labor Day weekend, a new giant-screen film arrives in Chattanooga that shows off the playful – occasionally perilous –lives led by some of the world’s most threatened and beloved marine mammals.
Don your flippers and wax your whiskers before rocketing beneath Australia’s wild surf and winding sinuously through California’s teeming kelp forests when Sea Lions – Life by a Whisker 3D comes to the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater on Sept. 2.
Presented locally by CHI Memorial, Sea Lions – Life by a Whisker 3D follows the heart-warming tale of an adorable Australian SeaLion pup named Otto and her mother. Their story begins in the chilly waters off Australia’s southern coast, a beautifully harsh region where colonies of Sea Lionsgather to play, swim and raise their young. As her mother leaves her behind to search the deep seafor food, little Otto must wait with the colony until her return, all the while navigating a dangerous landscape on her own.
Beloved for a distinctive barking call, cunning intelligence, and astonishing agility in the water, SeaLions – Life by a Whisker 3Dshows an unexpectedly tender, familial side to these mischievous mammals. The film also shines a light on the many threats SeaLions face above and below the surf line, from Great White Sharks to humans.
As viewers follow Otto, they’ll learn what makes these playful mammals an essential part of our oceans’ ecosystems and meet the people working to save them from extinction.
Australian Sea Lions are endemic to Australia and listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Once hunted for their fur and blubber, only an estimated 6,500 adults remain in the wild, with populations continuing to decline due to marine pollution, commercial fishing activity, and habitat disruption.
On the other side of the Pacific, however, California Sea Lionsshow the positive impact human intervention can have on a species’ prospect for survival. Once teetering on the brink, like their Aussie cousins, conservation efforts helped restore California Sea Lion to sustainable levels. There are now more than 300,000 living in the wild.
Well-known for their habit of lounging on rocky islands, beaches, and even the docks of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, SeaLions’ basking behavior – known as hauling out –helped to make them an iconic and instantly recognizable species beloved by coastal communities across the Pacific Ocean.
Sea Lions features Golden Globe nominee Sam Neill, best known for his turn as gruff paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park films. A Northern Ireland native raised in New Zealand, Neill is a passionate ocean conservationist and a natural choice to narrate little Otto’s journey.
“A simple story can paint a big picture, and Sea Lions – Life by a Whisker is one such tale,” Neill says. “An effective tool to fuel change, inform, and inspire action, audiences will embark on an emotional journey where they will laugh and sometimes cry.”
The film’s breathtaking 3D scenes of enormous Humpback Whales, toothy Great White Sharks, and color-changing Cuttlefish feature the kinds of immersive, awe-inspiring moments that can only properly be experienced in IMAX. And in Chattanooga, screens don’t come any more “giant” than the IMAX 3D Theater’s six-story behemoth.
Students and teachers can take an even deeper dive to learn more about Australian Sea Lions with the help of the film’s educator guides, which offer complete lesson plans tailored for students grades 3-5 and 6-8.
For showtimes and ticket information, visit tnaqua.org/imax/sea–lions-life-by-a-whisker-3d/.
Educator guides are available at sealionsfilm.com/education