Deep message

• Scenes from films playing at The Fremantle Underwater Film Festival.

THE Fremantle Underwater Film Festival is back again this weekend, raising awareness about what’s going on under the surface, and much-needed funds for conservation projects.

The festival is being held in the revamped beer garden of the Railway Hotel, now rebadged as the Port Beach Garden Bar, from Friday January 8 (if you’ve got an early Herald) to Sunday from 6pm.

“This past year I raised over $16,000 for two community groups that work to preserve marine biodiversity; one protecting the ‘hobbit of the sea’, the critically endangered small Maui dolphin and one protecting critically endangered green sawfish in our West Australian North West through Cape Conservation Group in Exmouth Gulf,” festival organiser and free diver Tania Douthwaite said.

The Maui dolphin is a sub-species of the Hector dolphin – the world’s smallest – and only exists in shallow waters around New Zealand where they are at risk of being caught in fishing nets. 

It’s estimated there may be just 55 left in the wild. Among the 15-20 films being shown at the festival (there’s an interval to top up plates and drinks) is Amanda Bluglass’s Chasing the Sublime, a beautifully shot story about adventure swimmers in Scotland which has picked up a raft of awards and special mentions across the globe since its release last year.

Also on the bill and a bit closer to home is SouWEST, conservation biologist Chandra P Salgado Kent’s first foray into documentary, which she says was important to help get the message out about the importance of science to preserving the marine environment.

The Edith Cowan uni professor looks at the three species of baleen whale that visit Geographe Bay in the Southwest, which are still remain endangered despite years of work by conservationists.

For tickets, head to the website

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