Humpback whales, Island-based marine society featured in BBC’s ‘Planet Earth III’

Humpback whales, Island-based marine society featured in BBC's 'Planet Earth III'
Marine Education and Research Society under Marine Mammal License MML-57 in the Territory of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw (the Kwak̕wala-speaking Peoples)
Humpback whale Conger.

Marine life in waters off Vancouver Island are making another splash on the small screen when a British nature documentary premieres an episode with local ties.

The seventh episode of BBC’s “Planet Earth III,” titled “Human,” airs on Dec. 3 in Europe, according to Port McNeill-based Marine Education and Research Society (MERS). 

“Is our feed going to have a lot of content related to Planet Earth III and the BBC? Yes, yes it is,” joked MERS on Facebook last week. “It may help it feel less surreal when Sir. David Attenborough narrates about these Humpbacks and our work.”

The episode, which is narrated by Attenborough, a British broadcaster, airs on Dec. 16 via BBC America and sometime in March in Canada. The season, which broke the series’ seven-year hiatus, premiered in the UK on Oct. 22.

Years in the making

MERS says whales Conger and Moonstar, who were filmed trap-feeding, will be featured in the upcoming episode. It worked with BBC crews to film these scenes back in 2021 and 2022, and interviews with the society’s own Christie and Jackie will be featured in support pieces for the show.

“Conger, and other Humpbacks from whom we have learned, will be ambassadors for the importance of whales and the way forward for humanity,” said MERS.

It says Conger (BCY0728) got his nickname because of the Conger Eel-like shape on the upper right part of his tail, while Moonstar’s (BCY0768) is based on the markings that look like a moon and a star on her tail.

Staff had been teasing the show for some time, saying in its post on Facebook that “this is what we had been nebulously referencing as ‘working with a film crew for a well-known documentary series.'”

MERS also posted behind-the-scenes pictures, taken in the Territory of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw (the KwakĚ•wala-speaking Peoples), of its staff collaborating with the BBC’s Fredi Devas, Tavish Campbell, Hayes Baxley and Bertie Gregory while on a boat equipped with several cameras and other filming equipment.

READ ALSO: New Netflix docuseries narrated by Will Arnett showcases Vancouver Island’s natural beauty

Episode seven has a runtime of 60 minutes, and a synopsis on the BBC’s website says, “Altering 80% of the land’s surface, there are now over 8 billion people on the planet. They must to share this space with a myriad of species.”

Other filming locations for “Planet Earth III” included Costa Rica, Brazil and The Maldives, to name a few.

The producers, directors, researchers and camera operators behind the show also praised Saturna Island, the Southern Gulf Island off Vancouver Island, in an article posted last month by Condé Nast Traveller.

They summed up some of their favourite filming locations and told the travel magazine that Saturna was “a haven for wildlife,” home to bald eagles, oystercatchers, killer whales, humpback whales and more.

Find more details about the show here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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