The Blue Planet
The Blue Planet is a BBC nature documentary series narrated by David Attenborough, first transmitted in the UK from 12 September 2001.
Described as "the first ever comprehensive series on the natural history of the world's oceans", each of the eight 50-minute episodes examines a different aspect of marine life. The underwater photography included creatures and behaviour that had previously never been filmed.
The series took almost five years to make, involving nearly 200 filming locations. The fact that most of the ocean environment remains a mystery presented the production team with many challenges. Besides witnessing animal behaviour for the first time, the crew also observed some that were new to science. The producers were helped by marine scientists all over the world with state of the art equipment.
Blue whales â€” whose migration routes were previously unknown â€” were located by air, after some of the animals had been given temporary radio tags. The camera team spent three years on standby, using a microlight to land on the water nearby when they finally caught up with the creatures in the Gulf of California. The open ocean proved more difficult and over 400 days were invested in often unsuccessful filming trips. After six weeks, the crew chanced upon a school of spinner dolphins, which in turn led them to a shoal of tuna. Off Mexico, the behaviour of a flock of frigatebirds guided the cameramen to a group of sailfish and marlin: the fastest inhabitants of the sea. Near the coast of Natal in South Africa, the team spent two seasons attempting to film the annual sardine run, a huge congregation of predators such as sharks and dolphins that assembles to feast on the migrating fish by corralling them into 'bait balls'. Meanwhile, in Monterey Bay, orca were documented trapping grey whales and killing a calf. Filming in the deep ocean required the use of special submersibles. One of them enabled the crew to dive over a mile into the San Diego trench, where the carcass of a 40-ton grey whale had been placed to attract a large variety of scavengers.
Upon its first transmission on BBC One, over 12 million people watched the series and it regularly achieved an audience share of over 30%.