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Newport's "Deep Sea John" Remembered

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Blackfish movie
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Well known Newport resident, John Crowe, who was featured in the documentary film Blackfish, died early this week. 

After a long career as professional diver for clients as varied as Jacque Cousteau and the federal government, Deep Sea John, settled in Newport, Oregon, where he has become a well-known figure, according to Philomena O'Brien, owner of Nana's Irish Pub where Crowe was a regular.

O'Brien: "He's like a sea-faring gentleman, you know, with the long hair and the many tattoos and kind of a burly looking guy."

O'Brien says the bar has been filled with friends and mourners all week.

O'Brien: "Staff can hardly work. It was hard for them to deal with their own grief."

Crowe came to international attention after being featured in the documentary film Blackfish, which links the conditions Killer Whales face in captivity at Sea World and other aquariums to the deaths of several whale trainers.  Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite, warmly remembers Crowe, and the pivotal role he played in the production of Blackfish

Cowperthwaite: "Interviewing John Crowe was the moment that I knew I had a movie. His interview really taught me that Blackfish could only work if the people in it exhibited a measure of humility and of regret."

In the early 1970's Crowe took part in killer whale hunts that targeted orca calves.  In the film, he makes clear his deep regret for being involved.

Crowe Blackfish film clip: "I've been part of a revolution, two change of presidents in Central and South America and seen some things that's hard to believe, but this is the worst thing that I've ever done."

The experience led Crowe to activism against the treatment of whales, which in recent years took the form a charitable apparel company dubbed Deep Sea John.  John Crowe died Monday morning at the motel he owned in Nye Beach.  He was 77.

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