BBC – Life – Antarctic trip

Scubazoo underwater cameraman Roger Munns spent most of January and February filming in the Antarctic convergence for the BBC’s latest big budget natural history series – Life.

The brief for the topside cameraman (Nick Guy) and Roger was to shoot a sequence involving a swarm of Antarctic Krill (Euphasia superba) at the sea’s surface. The hope was that a large swarm of Krill at the surface would attract predators such as Seals, Penguins and Baleen whales and develop into a ‘baitball’.

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For starters this was a huge trip in terms of length of time, distance traveled and what the crew were trying to achieve photographically. The Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars covered over 6500KM’s in the course of the six weeks with most of that being in open ocean. Encountering 15m swells and freezing conditions along the way. Indeed one of the few islands we sighted, Bouvet, is famous for being the most remote island on Earth – more than 1500km’s from the nearest land mass.

Krill are diurnal and are only usually found at the surface during hours of darkness but in the past huge swarms have been documented during daylight. The hope was that by catching a ride with a Scientific vessel conducting a survey in the Southern Ocean we may spot such a swarm and be able to get footage of this never before filmed event.

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As it turned out luck was against us and despite our best efforts no Krill were encountered above 10m in the water column. However we did get the chance to get in the water with fur seals amongst the kelp in South Georgia and also freedive and film humpbacks around an iceberg in the open ocean. On top of that there was the opportunity to spend a day in South Georgia where we had the chance to shoot stills of the local wildlife, visit Grytviken whaling station, the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton and enjoy the hospitality of the British Antarctic Survey scientists based on the island.

Once we were out of the cooler waters and our chances of finding Krill had evaporated, Nick and I filmed and edited a short film for the scientists on board which documented the research work done on the G.O. Sars during the trip.

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Life stars a cast of charismatic characters, filmed on every continent and in every habitat across the world. Each episode is entirely dedicated to one of the planet’s ten most important wildlife groups. Life is due to be broadcast on BBC One in autumn 2009. The series is being filmed entirely in high-definition and will comprise 10 fifty-minute episodes.

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