From the brink of extinction

elephant sealsIn the 19th century the Northern Pacific Elephant 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 which was greatly accelerated by protective measures adopted by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

The recovery is especially evident on the beaches of California’s Año Nuevo State Park. Until the 1950s so individuals were observed in the park. In the 1960s pups started to be born on Año Nuevo’s sandy shores. By the 1990s thousands of pups where born each year, capping the elephant seal’s turnaround.

“Beachmaster”, a new film by Christopher J. Gervais and Stan Minasian, tells the conservation success story of their recovery. While Beachmaster is slated for completion in 2014, the trailer for the documentary will be shown for the first time on Friday, February 1 at the 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival.

But Gervais’s role at the festival extends beyond filmmaker — he is also the founder and president of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festivals, which runs multiple events over the course of the year.

Ahead of Beachmaster’s premiere, Gervais answered some questions from about the film and his career, which includes field work as a biologist and running Wildlife Conservation Film Festivals.

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