“One Ocean” showcases the promises of the series.
When Blue Planet first premiered in 2001, it captivated the world. The BBC nature documentary series introduced viewers to seemingly alien terrains and creatures. From the bioluminescence of the deep ocean to pods of blue whales, the world got to see the ocean like never before. It took almost five years to make, was filmed in nearly 200 locations and was viewed by more than 12 million viewers in the United Kingdom alone.
What was so unique about Blue Planet was the way it brought people together. Everyone, from marine biologists to children, could be mesmerized by the show. Scientists could marvel at the technologies that allowed documentarians to film the animals like the dumbo octopus for the first time, while average viewers could learn about the oceans from the prolific narrator, Sir David Attenborough. Personally, I still watch Blue Planet most nights as I try to fall asleep: nothing is more soothing to me than the sound of David Attenborough’s voice.
This past fall, a sequel more than a decade in the making aired in the UK. Blue Planet II was the most watched show in the United Kingdom in 2017, surpassing UK broadcasting goliaths like the Great British Bakeoff and the X Factor. Social media feeds were filled with live tweeting about manta rays, dolphins and coral reefs as almost a quarter of the UK’s population tuned in.
Now, it’s America’s turn to watch. The season premiere, “One Ocean,” debuted on BBC America and affiliated networks on Saturday, January 20 and is nothing short of a triumph. Filming for the documentary took place over the course of more than five years and approximately 4,600 dive shoots. The end result, paired with a score from Hans Zimmer, is awe-inspiring. The very first episode features a fish that can change its gender, a fish that uses tools, and a chase scene between dolphins and whales.
Many of the elements that brought viewers to the original Blue Planet are also present in its sequel- cute baby animals, spectacular cinematography, and surreal ocean landscapes, to name a few. However, Blue Planet II’s mission statement is clear from some of the first lines of the show.
“The health of our oceans is under threat,” Attenborough warns. “They’re changing at a faster rate than ever before in human history. Never has there been a more crucial time to explore what goes on beneath the surface of the seas.”
One criticism of the original Blue Planet was that it tended to gloss over the major threats that the ocean faces. From the very first episode, Blue Planet II makes it clear that it will not be shying away from difficult topics. “One Ocean” features the story of a mother walrus in the arctic searching for enough frozen terrain for her and her baby to rest on. Because of rising temperatures, Attenborough explains, the search has become more difficult. While this story has a happy ending, it leaves you knowing that many others will not.
Blue Planet II has already been called the greatest nature series of all time. I hope that America can come together like the United Kingdom did to learn about the wonders that the ocean can produce and the problems that it faces. Maybe it’ll inspire you to join a beach clean up or find out ways you can help protect coral reefs from bleaching. When you can see the vastness and life that lives in the ocean (preferably on the biggest, highest definition TV possible), it’s impossible not to care about it’s future. Join us at Ocean Conservancy as we watch the remaining seven episodes of Blue Planet II.
Find out more about the show here.
Watch the first episode here.