IFLScience Talks To David Attenborough About The Oceans, His First Shoot, And What Nearly Made Him Cry

Take a deep breath... Blue Planet II takes us on an unimaginable tour of our oceans, showing things never before seen. Lisa Labinjoh/Joe Platko/BBC NHU 2017

Rachel Baxter 08 Nov 2017, 17:27

The latest offering from Attenborough has already proven to be a smash hit, with the opening episode of Blue Planet II attracting over 14 million viewers in the UK alone, and it’s not even finished its run yet. Now 91, Attenborough is narrating the 7-part exploration of the world’s oceans, filling Sunday nights with a veritable smorgasbord of natural wonders never before filmed.

From giant trevallies leaping clean from the water to take down fledgling terns, to the aesthetically awkward sex-changing Kobudai wrasse off the Japanese coast, or the icy descent 1,000 meters down to the seafloor of Antarctica, there are plenty of astonishing moments to catch.

After over half a century in the wildlife documentary business, you might think that Attenborough would be hard to impress, but it seems that the BBC Natural History Unit has managed it again.

“The trevally footage was extraordinary,” he says, leaning forward in his chair, the enthusiasm palpable. “These are big fish and when you think of what that involves, you’re swimming underwater and you’ve got to look through the surface, see the bird, and make a calculated judgement of how fast it’s going and where it’s going to be by the time you [jump] out of the water to catch it. It’s quite remarkable behaviour.”

But he doesn’t stop there. “There’s more,” Attenborough gushes. “You’ll see a wonderful fish that actually lays its eggs out of water, and actually likes to live out of water.” He’s now on a roll. “And more than anything, you find that the sea is much more of a complex society than one would imagine with all kinds of communications.” Barely catching his breath, he continues, “you’ll see cuttlefish that tell lies to bigger cuttlefish. Octopuses and coral groupers working together.”

“You really learn that fish are individuals.”

When the grouper gives the signal, the octopus teams up to hunt. BBC NHU 2017


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