Friday, November 14, 2008

The Blue World goes underground!

Hi Everyone, 
After being home for an entire week and a half, I packed my bags to head off on the next adventure of Jonathan Bird's Blue World.  Our Season 2 filming continued in the cenotes of Mexico!  Julia (line producer), Tim (cameraman and director) and I headed to Tulum, in the Riviera Maya of Mexico to spend 3 days diving in the cenotes and caverns of the Yucatan.  Although none of us are certified cave divers, we were lucky to have cave diving instructor Marco Wagner from H2O Pro Divers leading us through the cenotes, pointing out the exciting highlights.  We dove Grand Cenote, Car Wash, and Calavera several times and filmed some amazing things, from stalactites and stalagmites to haloclines (where fresh water and salt water meet, creating a psychedelic boundary layer).  As usual, we shot way more footage than we need for a segment.  Wait until you see this segment!  Wow, it's going to be amazing!  A big thanks goes out to the Riviera Maya Tourism Board for setting up the shoot and to Rick Allen/Nautilus Productions for the loan of a monstrous 200 watt underwater HID light.

We are planning a summer 2009 release of season 2, which will consist of at least 7 half-hour episodes.  Keep watching this Blog for more updates on the continuing adventures!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Season 2 shooting continues in Yap...

Julia, Pierre and I just returned from 2 weeks shooting in Yap, Micronesia. This is one difficult place to reach. I flew from Boston to Newark to Tokyo to Guam to Yap and it took 2 days. We shot a segment on Gray Reef sharks, a segment on manta rays (Yap is most famous for its manta rays), and parts of segments on mangroves, sea stars, venomous fish, mandarinfish, anemonefish and remoras. It was a busy shoot! We are building a huge backlog of material to be edited. Kerry, Art and I will be busy editing these segments all winter, in between additional shoots for season 2. It was a long trip and I’m glad to be home! I got a few dives with my still camera, so here are a few shots! -Jonathan

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Diving and Filming in Eastport, Maine

Well, Pierre and I just returned from underwater filming in Eastport, Maine. We were working on parts of several Blue World segments which will feature creatures found in this incredibly rich cold-water environment. We spent some time filming Gene, a male Atlantic wolffish which I have been photographing now for 12 years. He currently is guarding a nest of eggs in his den and was hard to photograph, but we were able to position the lights and camera to get some shots of the eggs behind his head. We also filmed monster-sized Northern Lobsters which attacked the camera, sea stars, basket stars, scallops, soft corals, and a bunch of other stuff which will turn up here and there throughout the second season. It was cold water, drysuits and hot chocolate after the dives for a week. Great fun!

The images here are older images for example since we were only shooting video this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rescuing Tropical Fish in Rhode Island

Because the Gulf Stream brings juvenile tropical fish from the Caribbean all the way to southern New England, divers sometimes find baby tropicals in the shallows while diving in Rhode Island and further south.  Unfortunately, when winter comes and the water temperatures drop, they die.  So, for many years, the New England Aquarium Dive Club has organized a fall tropical fish rescue day event in Rhode Island to collect the tiny fish.  Many of them go to home aquaria, and the rest go to the New England Aquarium.  Many of the enormous fish in the Giant Ocean Tank exhibit at the aquarium were actually caught during the tropical fish rescue, and would have died if they hadn't been saved.

I thought this would make a fun Blue World segment, so I joined seasoned pro fish rescuers Alicia Lenci and Michael Schruben for a lesson in fish hunting.  They have been a part of the fish rescue for many years, and assisted me on my film Secrets of the Reef in the Philippines as pro "fish wranglers."  The problem isn't so much catching the fish, but finding them.  They are small, and they hide in the rocks in very shallow water (really, not deep enough that you need scuba gear...some people hunt them with a snorkel).  Michael and I did a couple dives and he showed me how to find and catch the fish, while Tim Geers and Kerry Hurd shot the footage of it all happening.

We encountered somewhat limited visibility from recent storms, and some surge, which made the filming difficult, but I think it will still make a good segment.  We still have some more filming to do for the segment at the New England Aquarium, but it's going to be fun when complete, and should end up in the second season of Jonathan Bird's Blue World.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Jonathan appears on WBZ Radio in Boston

Last night I spent an hour being interviewed on the Jordan Rich Show on WBZ Radio, one of the largest talk/news stations in the USA.  We mostly talked about Jonathan Bird's Blue World and my new book, Creatures of the Deep Blue.  The last time I was on Jordan's show was about 5 years ago, so it has been a long time.  I really enjoy being on Jordan's show because he makes it easy to be a guest--he is good at keeping things moving and on track without any stress, even though it's live radio!

There is an .mp3 of the interview on our website in case you missed it.  LISTEN


Friday, August 22, 2008

The biggest fish in the sea

Many of you know that last year I headed down to Holbox, Mexico on a little adventure with my family and some friends to investigate the whale shark phenomenon there.  Well, it was amazing, to say the least.  Hundreds of whale sharks gather in this area to feed on abundant plankton in the summer.  The fishermen have known about this for ages, but only in the past few years has the word gotten out to the diving community.  Now the sleepy little fishing village on Holbox Island is one of the world's hottest spots for interaction with whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) the world's largest fish.

I headed back down there in July this year to shoot a segment for the upcoming season 2 of Jonathan Bird's Blue World, and conditions were a little windier than last year, but there were a ton of sharks.  Unlike last year, many of the sharks had great schools of fish surrounding them, feeding on the same plankton.  When I got close with a camera, the fish would aggregate tightly underneath the shark, like a big beard.  It made for fantastic pictures and video.

Although you can't scuba dive with the sharks at Holbox, you can snorkel.  And since they are feeding at the surface, snorkeling is actually the best way to interact and film them.  I will never forget looking down the enormous throat of a whale shark as it gorged itself at the surface, with water rushing into its mouth like a huge storm drain!  This will make an incredible segment in season 2!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blue World Merchandise hits the streets!

If you just can't get enough of the Blue World and you want to show your support, check out our cool new stuff in the Blue World TV Store!  We have everything from t-shirts to hats, sweatshirts to bibs....all with Janet MacCausland's fantastic Blue World logo on them!

Check it out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greenland sharks in the St. Lawrence

Pierre S├ęguin and I just returned from a week in the St. Lawrence filming Greenland sharks for a season 2 episode of Jonathan Bird's Blue World. There is a place where for no reason anyone can explain, for the past 5 years, Greenland sharks have come into diving depths and approached divers without chum....apparently out of curiousity. It has scared the pants off of a bunch of divers! The water is normally about 39 degrees there at the this is about the warmest water that these normally-arctic sharks are found in.

We planned to go last year, but the sharks showed up late, so our July trip was cancelled. This year they showed up early (June) and there were a lot of sharks....until we were scheduled to go (of course!) There has been a ton of rain this summer and as a result, the water is warmer than usual because the currents shifted. We decided to go anyway since a friend of Pierre's had offered to let us shoot aerials from his very cool helicopter. After 4 days of diving, we got two encounters....both very deep, where we could find cold enough water. We're hoping to go back in a few weeks, and hoping the currents return to normal along with the temperature. I never thought I would complain about water that is warmer than usual, but if you want Greenland sharks, you definitely don't want warm water.

It was very spooky diving that deep up there. The runoff from the rivers creates a tea-colored surface layer of fresh water that blocks all the light (viz about 3 feet). You go below it to get into colder, clearer water (viz about 15 feet). It's literally as dark as a twilight dive. You can barely see anything. Then big sharks come slowly out of the blackness. I was deep, suffering from narcosis, tunnel vision, freezing my butt off, and chasing 12 foot sharks.

Cool stuff if you ask me!!

The image is a frame-grab from video of a shark filmed at 130 feet.


Jonathan Bird's Blue World

Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an educational family-oriented underwater adventure series co-produced by Jonathan Bird Productions and Oceanic Research Group.

It is hosted by dynamic naturalist and underwater photographer Jonathan Bird.

The format is magazine style, with short 7-10 minute segments each containing a complete adventure story with an educational component.

For television, these segments are packaged with 3 segments in a half-hour episode.

For internet delivery, each segment is self-contained.

Segments encompass a variety of subjects, including stories about animals, marine research and researchers, underwater exploration and recent discoveries. The stories always have an underwater theme and feature stunning underwater photography.

While programs are geared towards a younger audience, please do not consider it a "kids" show.

Anyone from 6 to 60 will enjoy this series!