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Humpback whales under water in the fjords of Northern Norway A Walrus colony on Svalbard.
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BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Audun Rikardsen
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For the production of BBCs Earth’s upcoming documentary series Blue Planet II, production teams spent several months filming both above and below Norwegian waters, capturing animal behaviours never before seen on film.

Published: 27 October 2017

The first entry in the Blue Planet series was a genre milestone. 13 years since it’s release – aided by the latest photographic and oceanographic technology – the award winning BBC teams are pushing boundaries ever further to unveil our fascinating and mysterious oceans.

With 125 expeditions in 39 different countries, spending more than 6000 hours diving, 1000 hours in submarines and more than 500 total days at sea – the series is set to capture audiences worldwide.

Norwegian coastal nature and animals will feature prominently in Blue Planet II, making an appearance in 4 out of 7 episodes.

BBC Blue Planet II BBC Blue Planet II
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BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Rachel Butler / BBC NHU

A three month swim across the Atlantic

Especially noteworthy was the footage recently captured for Blue Planet II’s premiere episode, One Ocean. In stunning and action-packed scenes, we witness a non-hostile cooperation between Humpback Whales and orcas: an unusual symbiosis that’s never before been captured on film.

In a BBC press release, team leader and producer for the episode tells of the mind-blowing experience. 

– We spent a total of 82 days on location outside of Vengsøya and in Andfjorden, which resulted in spectacular shots and stories. The humpback whales are true ocean nomads, swimming all the way from the Caribbean to Norway in search of food, a trip taking a total of three months. The scenes are fascinating, and we can’t wait to show Blue Planet II to the world, says Smith.

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In the aforementioned episode we see the two species work together on a herring-hunt. In close interaction, the giants shepherd schools of fish into a tight group and then stun individuals with massive tail-slaps.

Tore Haugen, at Norways Institute of Marine Research (IMR) explains the unusual behaviour for Filter Nyheter: 

– The humpback whale’s tactic is to trap it’s pray on the surface. But the herring swims deep in the waters of Kalfjorden, where the phenomenon takes place. It’s the orcas job to dive deep and chase the fish back towards the surface. In effect they’re doing the whale’s job for them, he says.

A wide variety of Norwegian nature

BBC Blue Planet II BBC Blue Planet II
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BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: BBC
BBC Blue Planet II
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BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Miles Barton / BBC NHU

Credits
BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Miles Barton / BBC NHU
BBC Blue Planet II
Credits
BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Rachel Butler / BBC NHU

Credits
BBC Blue Planet II.
Photo: Rachel Butler / BBC NHU

Norwegian nature will be featured in more than just the first episode. Recordings from our extensive coastline will be included in four of the series seven total episodes, covering a wide range of locations and species. From Puffins in Finnmark to starfish and sea-slugs near Bergen. In the series finale - Our Blue Planet - we’re given a hopeful reunion with the whales and orcas from the first episode.  

– 50 years ago, the population of spawning herring in Norway was almost extinct due to overfishing, says Will Ridgeon - producer of the episode. 

– Today the population recovery stands as a message of hope. Every year over a billion herring swarm to winter in Norwegian waters, before spawning in the spring. When hundreds of humpback whales and orcas gathers for a royal feast, it turns into one of our oceans true spectacles. 

Blue Planet II is narrated by David Attenborough, and will premiere on BBC Earth – Sundays at 21.00 from 29 October.

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