It is with mixed feelings that I report Cameraman Tim and I have just finished the final shoot of season 3 of Jonathan Bird's Blue World. On the one hand, I'm excited that we have finally finished and we will soon be releasing the episodes to public television, international television and the web. But on the other hand, it's a little depressing to be finished. After all, we had a lot of fun doing it! We have been in production for about 18 months on what will be 24 more segments (9 half-hour programs). The finished programs are scheduled for delivery to the closed-captioning service in June.
Anyway, the final shoot was a half day at Sea World in San Diego, following up on a stranded pilot whale named Sully. We first met Sully on Curaçao at the very beginning of our season 3 shooting in October, 2009. He had recently stranded on a beach there. After George Keiffer and his team of marine mammal specialists at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium nursed him back to health, they tried releasing him into a pod of pilot whales, but he wouldn't go! He followed the boat back to the aquarium, and set a new speed record! After multiple attempts to re-introduce Sully into the wild failed, they gave up and started looking for a permanent home for him. They just didn't have the space in Curaçao at the Sea Aquarium.
Sea World in San Diego volunteered to take the 1,000 pound whale. So they flew him to San Diego! There, after doing hearing tests, they discovered what was wrong with Sully--he couldn't hear very well. As a result, he could not catch his own food using echolocation. That was why he was starving and stranded, and that was why he wouldn't go back to the wild. Sully would die if released, and he knew it. So Sea World offered Sully a second chance at life.
We spent the morning with Booker Crenshaw (one of Sea World's PR reps) and Sully's trainers at Sea World, learning how they feed him, play with him, train him and rub him down. He has grown by several hundred pounds since he arrived at Sea World, and has become quite used to people. I actually think he is a ham on camera. He seems to enjoy sticking his head out of the water and looking at the camera. Once Sully gets to a certain level of training, he will be introduced to the other two pilot whales at Sea World. And they are females, so who knows, maybe in a few years there will be some little baby Sullys swimming around!