BBC – David Attenborough’s Life in cold blood


Monday March 3rd 2008 saw the airing of Life in cold blood – Armoured giants which featured a turtle mating sequence filmed by underwater cameraman Roger Munns and Russ Campbell.

“This was a big moment for me personally and for Scubazoo” said Roger “to be involved in shooting part of the final chapter of Sir David Attenboroughs’s epic overview of life on earth was definitely a privilege. We knew we would have a good chance of getting the shots we needed at Sipadan and given our proximity to the island it was a case of waiting for the right weather conditions during the mating season and being on call, ready to get down to Sipadan at a moments notice.”

Unfortunately the mating season for green turtles coincides with typically poor weather and rough sea conditions, but after a couple of abortive attempts Roger and Russ finally hit it right and got the shots they were after. Filming the mating sequence was a serious effort in terms of filming and fitness. Once coupled together the mating pair are virtually oblivious to their surroundings and the camera crew and lovers covered several kilometres over the course of the morning. As the mating green turtles traveled, more and more male turtles became aware of the fertile female and joined in the fray. ” At one point there must have been eight males involved” Roger recalled “It was a no-holds barred free-for-all. Heads were getting slapped by flippers and the incumbent male was being bitten and bumped all over. He was holding on like grim death!” The footage Roger and Russ got exceeded their initial expectations and the final sequence was picked out as one of the top ten clips from the five part series.

Later in 2008 the Armoured Giant episode picked up the Golden Panda award at Wildscreen film festival (the wildlife filmmaking oscars) and the mating turtle sequence was shown during the ceremony.

Buy the Life in Cold Blood DVD set from Amazon
Preview and license mating turtle footage