What to expect from Blue Planet 2 – Our Blue Planet

Blue Planet 2 has been a spectacular series, with ground-breaking technology, innovative filmmaking, and top scientific correspondence allowing our ocean’s most incredible stories to be broadcast to an audience of over 14 million people. The series has allowed characters from the big blue to come to life in our living rooms, inspiring a new generation of marine biologists, just as The Blue Planet (the original series) did for me and my fellow students. However, the upcoming episode, Our Blue Planet, will hopefully go further than this, using its unique platform to inspire not only the marine biologists of the world, but the entire audience, to take action and get involved in marine conservation. So for the last time, here’s my take on what we can expect from Blue Planet 2 – Our Blue Planet.

Sir David Attenborough explaining the dangers of plastics
The final episode of Blue Planet 2 will focus on human impacts to our ocean. Blue Planet 2, BBC (C).

As mentioned in previous posts, each Blue Planet 2 episode has had a strong conservation message of its own, told from the perspective of the affected animals. This episode, however, will have quite a different tone and a serious message to share, featuring stories from the perspectives of the animals themselves and the scientists studying them. Our Blue Planet will explore the human impacts on some of the most loved characters from the series, something Executive Producer, James Honeyborne viewed as a natural conclusion to the series. Expect to see the corals, turtles and albatrosses back again, but this time to tell the heart-wrenching stories of their lives in a rapidly changing world. Sir David Attenborough is also expected to feature heavily throughout the episode, with his own personal look at the problems facing our oceans, along with scientists and conservationists from around the world, including our very own Dr Jon Copley. As one of the chief scientific correspondents to the series, Jon will appear in the upcoming episode to express his personal experience of our changing ocean, most likely regarding Antarctica, where he was a member of the team that descended to 1,000 m in the Alucia submersibles for ‘The Deep‘ episode.

Experience Dr Jon Copley’s Antarctic adventure as scientific correspondant for Blue Planet 2.

It is now (almost) universally recognised that human activity is having a profound effect on our blue planet and that the ocean is experiencing great change at an alarming rate. The problems that marine fauna face are widespread and ever-increasing – warming, acidification, overfishing, noise pollution, seabed mining, ecotoxicology and plastic pollution – each a human-induced threat. In 2017 alone, a great number of studies have been published exploring the effect of these threats on marine life, including on the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale, the effective functioning of both tropical and cold-water coral reefs, and the distribution of Southen Ocean seabirds. I predict the strongest message from the episode is likely to concern plastics, something which Sir David feels strongly about. A changing ocean is not only a threat to the marine environment – as we’ve seen in each previous episode, all life is intertwined with the ocean so any change can heavily effect humans too, from the decimation of fish stocks to rising sea levels. I, therefore, believe that the upcoming episode will have a profound effect on the audience, after all, the episode is titled Our Blue Planet.

Turtle caught in plastics
Entanglement is just one of the ways plastics can harm marine life. Blue Planet 2, BBC (C).

As with the final episode of Planet Earth 2, there will also inevitably be a message of hope. Conservation and citizen science success stories are being shared by individuals around the world – from the recovery of kelp forest ecosystems in Monterey Bay (as seen in Green Seas) to the protection of sea turtle nesting beaches by Caribbean communities, these accounts are sure to be highlighted towards the end of the episode. Let us not forget the progress made at home too – the implementation of Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation around the UK has allowed our marine wildlife to bounce back, and local initiatives to rescue stranded marine mammals and conduct beach cleans are helping to combat our plastic pollution problem.

As ever, feel free to share any comments or questions regarding Our Blue Planet – I hope you enjoy the final episode of the amazing series, Blue Planet 2!

Inspired by the episode? Get involved in ocean conservation!

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