Sir David Attenborough's documentary masterpiece, Blue Planet 2, is the long awaited follow up to the original 2001 British nature documentary that thrilled wildlife lovers all over the world.This latest series showcases the stunning advances in film technology to capture the secret behaviour of the incredible marine life of our world's oceans in jaw-dropping high definition. |
Sold to more than 30 countries around the world and becoming the most watched programme of 2017 in the UK (with an average of over 10 million viewers every episode), Blue Planet 2 has achieved what would seem to be impossible, by turning a nature documentary into a blockbuster.Considering that it also pulled in more of the youth demographic than the X Factor, and has had over 43 million views on social media, it's just possible that Sir David Attenborough's rallying call to environmental arms of the final episode may be reaching the right ears.
The Making of a Masterpiece
The series is divided into seven episodes, covering the different oceanic habitats: Our Blue Planet, Coasts, Green Seas, Big Blue, Coral Reefs, the Deep and One Ocean. With the financial backing of the BBC, the Blue Planet 2 team filmed 6,000 hours of footage over a period of four years, in 39 countries. Of that, 1,000 hours of footage was shot from submersible vessels.
As well as utilising the latest state-of-the-art underwater camera equipment and drones, the team created some purpose-built technology for the series. They built a 'tow-cam', which could be towed behind a high-speed boat in order to keep up with fast marine animals like tuna and dolphins.They also built an underwater motion controlled time lapse rig, and a huge 60cm housing for a wide-angle camera that was dubbed the Megadome. The Megadome gave them the ability to capture scenes above and below the surface of the ocean simultaneously, and produced one of the most astonishing sequences in the series: a walrus and her calf sitting on top of an iceberg while also showing the ice beneath the surface.
Fantastic Film Firsts
The magnificent footage for Blue Planet 2 included a number of firsts: sequences of oceanic animal behaviour that had never before been captured and had often been rejected as myth. These include:
• Interactions between false killer whales and Bottlenose dolphins • Tuskfish using tools to break open hard-shelled clams • Giant trevally leaping out of the water to capture birds • Glowing Mobula Rays stirring up bioluminescent plankton with their 'dance' • Groupers and octopi using sign language to hunt co-operatively
While it would be hard to top the stellar achievements of Sir David Attenborough's Blue Planet 2, the producers have announced two very different nature documentary projects for 2018.
The first is called Dynasty, and comprises a series of films that follow an animal family for several years in order to document their family lineage. The second is an exciting project in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, called Animals With Cameras. The production team built special bespoke cameras to attach to different animal species so the viewer is able to see the animal's exact view of the world.
Encounter the World's Wildlife on a Nature Cruise
While not everyone can get up as close and personal to our magnificent marine life as Sir David Attenborough, a professional nature cruise affords a privileged opportunity to encounter a wide range of species in their natural habitat. From the remote and beautiful archipelago of the Galapagos Islands to the frozen expanses of South Georgia and Antarctica, a well-organised nature cruise can take you to some of the most unspoiled wilderness areas on the planet.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in marine species. For nature lovers interested in a dedicated nature cruise, Marissa recommends thetours organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of species in one of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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