WATCH: Actress Amber Valletta asks Californians to be on the look out for entangled whales

I’m here at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey with the International Fund for Animal Welfare to raise awareness of whale conservation and our work together.

We’re also premiering our public service announcement, which publicizes a toll-free number to report entangled whales in the state of California.

A few weeks ago, I saw a breeching whale as I was shooting this PSA - it was simply magical and a powerful reminder of why we were there!  The thought of this magnificent creature entangled in ropes was incredibly upsetting – which helps fuel my passion and makes my work with IFAW even more important.

I love animals – especially whales - and care deeply about safeguarding their future and protecting the environment. I first learned about IFAW several years ago when I was asked to host a fundraiser for its work to protect elephants in Kenya. I was impressed by the breadth of IFAW’s work – hands-on animal rescue, policy, science - and advocacy, which is especially important to me as an activist.

From left to right: IFAW's Patrick Ramage, who leads our Global Whale Program, the author, Amber Valletta and actor Edward James Olmos during their panel at the BLUE Oceans Film Festival in Monterrey, California.My mother was an activist and instilled in me this understanding that you have to use your voice to fight for the betterment of our world. It’s important to educate people about issues that affect the world’s animals and the environment and encourage action to protect them.

Living on the coast of California, the ocean is my backyard, a part of my daily life – and I am aware of its splendor as well as some of the natural and manmade perils associated with the sea that affect both people and marine creatures.

Partnering with IFAW on marine mammal conservation was a natural fit; and I believe that I can add an authentic voice to the conversation and hopefully inspire other people to get involved.

When working with a nonprofit, it’s important to find the issue you feel passionately about and where you can have impact.

And also where you can lend your personal influence – whether it be making introductions to your friends and colleagues by hosting events, using your celebrity to reach more people, or even designing vegan shoes to benefit the charity like I did recently for IFAW.

Since that first event, I’ve learned much about IFAW’s global work to protect whales from the many threats they face.

I’ve been involved with IFAW in a range of projects with a marine mammal focus, including IFAW Animal Action - its youth education program - and hosting events on whale conservation and the effect of climate change on marine mammals.

Networking events like these are very important in creating awareness for the issues, inspire fundraising and motivating action.

One of the most inclusive projects in which I participated was IFAW’s Tails for Whales campaign. 

I joined thousands of people around the world in showing their support to save whales by adding my photograph to the thousands of others who had done the same - becoming part of a movement showing support of whale conservation and petitioning governments to conserve and protect whales.

These efforts connect with issues that are important to me and my family.  My hope is that the public sees the importance of protecting whales, and they are compelled to act.

I look forward to continuing my work with IFAW to help whales and inspire activism in a number of different ways.

--AV

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