On Friday evening 25th March at 8:00pm on ITV, you’ll have an opportunity to see some pretty spectacular aerial footage of bubble-netting humpback whales, filmed by drone in the Dingle Bay area during Sept. 2015. This portion of the show was a collaboration with IWDG and the footage which is a first for the northeast Atlantic was filmed with Blasket Island Marine Tours, who operate out of Ventry.
Yes, the title: “Britain’s Whales” is disappointing, but neither IWDG nor the production team had any input into this. We hope this footage is a platform for the conservation work of the IWDG and our recording schemes which monitor these visiting giants, year after year.
Broadcasts Friday 25 March 8pm and 9pm on ITV
Over two programmes, Britain’s Whales and Britain’s Sharks, Ben Fogle and Ellie Harrison go in search of Britain’s sharks and whales. Using the biggest bait on Earth they witness the greatest gathering of sharks ever seen in UK waters and come face to face with a pod of giant Humpbacks off the Co. Kerry Coast in southwest Ireland. Viewers will get to witness the first ever study of a whale fall event in the UK. Supported by leading experts, both programmes promise to present an unrivalled opportunity for viewers to gain a close insight into marine life around the British Isles.
In programme one, Britain’s Whales, Ben comes face to face with humpbacks off the coast of Ireland and sees spectacular scenes of dolphins and humpbacks working together to corral fish. “This ocean is alive, it’s just incredible here in the British Isles,” says Ben. “We’ve got dolphins pushing all of the bait together; we’ve all of the birds feeding in a great frenzy above, and we’ve got these magnificent humpback whales coming up and joining in the feast.”
Ben is with Pádraig Whooley, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group Sightings Officer who believes the waters off Co. Kerry are becoming a real hotspot for humpbacks with more than 30 individuals seen here last summer.
Fin whales the size of buses and 10-metre Minke whales are just some of the giants that visit the British Isles, many undertaking extraordinary journeys to reach our shores. But despite their size, relatively little is known about their lives. To try and find them, the team mount an extraordinary expedition to the Celtic Deep, a little known area of water sitting between the Cornish, Welsh and Irish coasts. But to find sharks they need some help.
The team are notified that a 9 metre humpback has drowned, entangled in lobster pot lines off Helmsdale in NE Scotland. Saved from landfill, the whale will give the ultimate gift of life back to the ocean. As a lorry weaves its way through the North Devon countryside with an extraordinary cargo inside, Ben and Ellie, with a team of whale-fall and sharks experts, are about to embark on an extraordinary expedition.
Ellie Harrison heads out first on a converted trawler to explore the tiny islands lining the Pembrokeshire coast. Her plan is to meet with Ben and the whale, in the Celtic Deep in 24 hours’ time. As she passes the tiny island of Grassholm, she meets some of the first creatures they could meet again in the Celtic Deep. The 4th largest gannet colony in the world, Grassholm is home to more than 80,000 adults.
As Ellie heads on towards the Smalls, a treacherous outcrop of rocks lying some 20 miles offshore, she has a magical encounter snorkelling with grey seals. “That was one of the best experiences I‘ve ever had,” says Ellie as she witnesses seals playing in the water around her. As the creatures travel up to a hundred miles on their fishing trips, the crew could soon meet them again out in the Celtic Deep.
As Ben leaves from North Devon with the whale carcass, the UK’s first ever whale-fall expedition is underway. “The dream would be if we got some sharks. That’s not to say I’m not anxious and nervous about the whole thing, particularly diving in very deep waters with British Sharks” says Ellie.
Ben and Ellie are about to encounter the largest gathering of sharks ever seen in British waters.