The Blue Planet Effect

Wrasse by Robert Bailey

The show everyone is talking about!
Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.
Dr Sylvia A. Earle

Has Blue Planet II had you glued to your TV on a Sunday evening? Does it make you want to paddle in the ocean, learn to dive or go wild swimming? Then what are you waiting for? Seize the moment and dive right in!
A few weeks ago the eagerly anticipated Blue Planet II series hit our screens. Over 14 million viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched programme of 2017 and the most popular natural history series in 15 years. The culmination of four years’ worth of hard work by scientists, dive teams, specialist cameramen, and BBC producers, using cutting-edge technology to take us on a journey to areas and depths of the ocean that previously we could only dream about. Boy was it worth the wait!
In the first episode, One Ocean, we were treated to a whistle-stop tour of the planet’s oceans, travelling from the tropics all the way up to the frozen poles. We were introduced to an array of magnificent and mesmerising marine characters throughout the journey, all set to the sweeping backdrop of a perfectly pitched, heart-tugging musical score by Hans Zimmer. I think it is fair to say that no one will look at a walrus in the same way ever again!

 

Filming Walrus with the Megadome, Blue Planet 2 behind the scenes

Since then, every Sunday night at 8pm I, like you, have been glued to my television waiting to see what wonders of the big blue will be revealed next and what unbelievably unusual beings, rarely or never seen before, will be broadcast to the millions.
As someone who has been in love with the ocean and its inhabitants from a very young age, I may well ask, isn’t it obvious that our oceans are beautiful? We all know that they provide us with vital resources don’t we? Apparently not, and this is why Blue Planet II has arrived at just the right time.

Our oceans provide us with immeasurable benefits including:

  • Vast amounts of seafood - not just our fish and chips, over 3 billion people currently depend on the ocean as their primary source of protein
  • Energy - in the form of oil and renewables
  • Climate regulation – approximately 30% carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean
  • Transportation - 90% world trade is carried by the international shipping industry
  • Medicine - biomedical products derived from marine plants and animals provide important medicinal products and health benefits
  • Recreation - surfing, swimming and marine wildlife spotting 

But today, our seas also face a multitude of threats including; over-fishing, underwater noise pollution, offshore development, habitat damage, invasive species, marine litter and climate change. I have been thrilled that the makers of this awe-inspiring series are using it as a platform to highlight the wonders of our seas, without shying away from the devastating effects that human beings and our activities are inflicting on this irreplaceable and frighteningly fragile environment.
When I hear the viewing figures I am filled with feelings of optimism and hope. We have barely even begun to explore the ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, yet it holds the power to captivate and enthral everyone – young and old – because it truly is the last remaining wilderness on our planet.
So as I watch every Sunday from the comfort of my sofa I find myself thinking, will people watch with joy and awe and then just return to their daily lives without another thought for our marine environment? Or, will they think, what can I do to help? Personally, I am hopeful that it will be the latter, so let’s take this opportunity to build on the momentum and get out and make a difference for our marine environment. You have heard of ‘the butterfly effect’ – let’s join the swell of momentum around ‘the blue planet effect’!

Personally, I am hopeful that it will be the latter, so let’s take this opportunity to build on the momentum and get out and make a difference for our marine environment. You have heard of ‘the butterfly effect’ – let’s join the swell of momentum around ‘the blue planet effect’!