For Immediate Release
February 9th, 2022
StoryFile and the National Marine Mammal Foundation Debut AI-powered interactive video of Dr. Sam Ridgway, the father of marine mammal medicine.
February 9th, 2022 – The National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) has partnered with StoryFile to create an AI-powered, conversational video of Dr. Sam Ridgway, who is known as the Dolphin Doctor. The interactive experience is available on the NMMF’s site and enables anyone to ask Dr. Ridgway about his challenges, discoveries, successes and failures. StoryFile’s technology was developed to transcend the boundaries of time and space, giving people access to great hearts and minds like Dr. Ridgway’s for future generations.
“Dr. Ridgway’s life story is so unique and now it’s readily available in his own words to students, veterinarians, and scientists all over the world,” said Dr. Cynthia Smith, National Marine Mammal Foundation Executive Director. “We are grateful to have archived his Dolphin Doctor legacy with StoryFile, while also capturing his true nature as a friend, mentor, and trail-blazing pioneer.”
Dr. Ridgway’s groundbreaking and unique contributions to our understanding of dolphins and whales over the past 60 years are unequaled. As a founder of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program and a pioneer of marine mammal medicine, Dr. Ridgway’s career began as a Veterinary Officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1960. He is one of the founders of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program starting in 1961, and has over 60 years of experience in developing and advancing marine mammal medicine and research. In 1965, his work on marine mammal diving was transitioned for use in the Navy SEALAB II project, and, in 1969 to a system employing California sea lions, which is used to this day in various Navy recovery tasks.
“When you spend decades with dolphins, there are things you know and want to tell people that don’t necessarily come across in all the scientific papers and the books: for example, you learn, to recognize their “ah-ha” moments and relish their sounds of glee,” said Dr. Sam Ridgway, NMMF President. “With StoryFile, it will always be me connecting with people who care about marine mammals. This technology lets me talk about my experiences in a way that goes beyond the data, and because the visitor isn’t just passively consuming a traditional video, I think it truly comes together across space and time.”
Colleagues often call him the Father of Marine Mammal Medicine because of his development of dolphin anesthesia, medical technology, discoveries aiding marine mammal care, and his studies on dolphin auditory physiology and echolocation. He completed a large share of the seminal work in marine mammal medicine, and he continues to promote both applied and basic research in the field of marine mammalogy. Among over 300 papers, book chapters, and books he has published, Mammals of the Sea (1972) is one of the most definitive works on marine mammals.
“Dr. Ridgway’s pioneering career as a marine mammal veterinarian was launched with the
creation of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, and his story has been intertwined with ours through decades of dedicated service,” said Dr. Mark Xitco, Director of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. “I’m excited that his foundational perspective and unique insight, which has shaped us for so long, will continue to do so far into the future, while now being intimately shared with a much broader audience.”
Dr. Ridgway’s StoryFile was filmed over five days with approximately 600 questions. Bonnie Samotin, StoryFile’s Director of Research & Interviews, said “StoryFile was honored to record and preserve Dr. Sam Ridgway’s life story and expertise. During the interview, I reflected how, just as I was learning his story firsthand, through his StoryFile, there will now be many people now and in the future who will have conversations with Dr. Ridgway, and hear how he became the Dolphin Doctor and a pioneer in marine mammal medicine.” She continued, “This StoryFile is a true gift to the community with the precious opportunity to interact with Dr. Ridgway. His mentorship and contributions will extend beyond those whom he mentored personally, as future generations will be able to benefit and learn from him, hear his stories, get to know this beloved colleague and community member, see how much he cares, and learn how much of a difference he made in the NMMF community, in marine medicine, and in the lives of all the humans, dolphins and sea lions and many other creatures who know and appreciate him, his caring, humor and wisdom.”
StoryFile, which has been featured on 60 Minutes, has previously created projects with civil rights leaders, astronauts, WW2 Veterans, 9/11 survivors, the last living witnesses of the Tulsa Race Massacre, tech investor Tim Draper, and the icon William Shatner. The pandemic inspired StoryFile’s founders to create a free AI Santa Claus that children from over 80 countries have had enjoyed talking to. StoryFiles have been used by the public at the Japanese American National Museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Miami Crypto Experience, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Carolyn E. Schlundt Melka, friend/colleague and project initiator said, “Dr. Sam H. Ridgway has an amazing story to tell. What compelled me to engage StoryFile for this project was that you don’t have to sit through hours of an interview hoping to eventually hear the answer to a question about Dr. Ridgway’s life you may have. Instead, you can simply ask him. This technology embodies the same unique, groundbreaking and cutting edge advancements in filming as those for which Dr. Ridgway is known in the fields of marine mammal science and stewardship. This project came from the heart so that generations can come to know and love Sam as much as we all do, and continue to learn from his life story and pioneering advancements.”
Dr. Sam Ridgway’s StoryFile was made possible by Carolyn E. Schlundt Melka, the NMMF Board of Directors Grants Program, and the Office of Naval Research through their funding of our Dolphin Doctor STEM education program based on Dr. Ridgway’s scientific discoveries and career. Special thanks to StoryFile and the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program.
To interact with Dr. Sam Ridgway’s StoryFile, please click here.
The National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization recognized globally as a leader in marine mammal science, medicine, and conservation. With a mission to improve and protect life for marine mammals, humans, and our shared oceans through science, service, and education, our team of forward-thinking aquatic and wildlife veterinarians, scientists, conservationists, care experts, and analysts, is answering critical questions about the health of marine mammals. We are committed to protecting marine animals and conserving at-risk, threatened, and endangered cetacean species worldwide. In addition to publishing our findings in scientific literature, we share our discoveries with children and the community through our Education and Outreach program. More information at NMMF.org.
StoryFile LLC was founded in 2017 in Los Angeles by Heather Smith, Sam Gustman, Stephen Smith, and Ceci Chan. StoryFile uses AI, AR, VR, and its proprietary innovative technology to create and inspire human connections across generations to connect the past, present, and future. StoryFile developed the world’s first conversational video interactive platform that gives the storyteller the opportunity to tell their narrative and experiences in their own words. StoryFile has achieved the previously thought-of impossible by taking 2D video and transforming it into a 3D experience for all stakeholders. StoryFile recently launched StoryFile Life, the first at-home version of the company’s proprietary conversational video technology which enables anyone to easily preserve the memories of loved ones and important life moments. It is a perfect gift for families, friends, and mentors, since everyone has stories that deserve to be told, and saved for the future. More information at StoryFile.com.