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Vinny Chase wants to find the world's loneliest whale

Vinny Chase wants to find the world's loneliest whale


Adrian Grenier just launched a Kickstarter to fund an expedition in the Pacific

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An Entourage meta-celebrity. A Seattle microbrewer. A drummer for a goofy sweatshorts-clad pop band. Adrian Grenier is all these things, but he's something else too: a secret whale enthusiast. The actor is about to embark on an expedition in search of the world's loneliest whale — if his Kickstarter project gets funded, that is.

The world's loneliest whale was first discovered in 1992 at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Puget Sound. As Leslie Jamison points out in her essay 52 Blue, researchers heard the whale's strange call through a network of hydrophones planted along the ocean floor. The call came in at 52 hertz, hence the whale's nickname "52." The frequency is extraordinarily high for blue whales, whose calls usually fall somewhere between 15 and 20 hertz. As scientists studied the whale, they found he was always alone — crushingly, disappointingly alone. Like the plot of a down-and-out country song, no other whales were responding to Lonely Whale's strange, falsetto calls.

He's the Tiny Tim of whales

The Kickstarter campaign aims to fund a 20-day quest during which Grenier, filmmaker Josh Zeman, and a team of scientists will track the whale, who is now considered to be a rare hybrid of a blue and a fin whale. The crew will travel 400 miles off the coast of California, and, if they find the whale, they'll attempt to clip him with non-invasive tags to monitor his calls.

While on the journey, Grenier and Zeman will shoot a documentary about how ocean noise pollution (mostly from humans) is disrupting whales' ability to communicate with each other. "Much like the plight of the Lonely Whale," the Kickstarter story reads, "we too are struggling to be heard above the endless chatter of our plugged-in lives."

In an interview with Origin, Grenier said, "Lonely whales have the ability to bring people in," noting that the whale "reflects a humanness, something that’s within all of us."

Adrian Grenier's own Moby Dick

Grenier's Kickstarter campaign has 20 days left to reach its funding goal of $300,000, which will go towards the research vessel, equipment, fuel, permits, food, and compensation for the crew. As of now, the project still has $213,620 left to raise, and it's unclear if a copy of "Adrian's book of inspirational quotes to live by" is enough of a reward to entice potential backers. But for now, one thing is clear: Adrian Grenier is the Captain Ahab of our time, and we're all in this unwieldy, extended metaphor together.