Disney+’s new series Secrets of the Whales gives us an in-depth view of the whale culture. The series is shot by the famous photographer Brian Skerry – he shares some of his extraordinary documenting work of the whales in the series. His work took three years and covered 24 locations across the globe.
Secrets of the Whales is a series on Dinesy+, a book, and a cover story by National Geographic.
What’s the Project All About?
The project is a documentary about the five distinct species of whales and their communication patterns and social structures. The five species focused on for this project include orcas, humpbacks, narwhals, belugas, and sperm whales. It also features the never seen before the sight of calf nursing by a sperm whale.
How Did it Start?
Brian’s ocean journey began as a diver during his childhood days. Recalling the summer vacations in New England, he talks about how the ocean always spoke to him. The idea for the documentary was brewing for the past decade. His journey started with shooting a story for Nat Geo about the endangered species of whales worldwide. This study kicked off interest to explore the subject more. After speaking to scientists, he decided to focus his story on the different cultures amongst the whale community.
The Mind-Blowing Findings of the Research
His research revealed some really fascinating facts about cultural identities. His research found that different cultural practices exist even within the same species of whales. For example, he found that distinct clans of sperm whales distinguish themselves by using different dialects.
Even orcas’ food preferences differ according to the region of the world they live in. like orcas that live in New Zealand enjoy eating stingrays. In contrast, those that live in Patagonia devour sea lion pups.
The Process of Documenting the Lives of Whales
His work involved capturing the images of the whales from remote locations like the Arctic Ocean. He revealed that 95% of the dies were done without the scuba diving equipment in the freestyle. This photography process involved divers holding their breath to dive deep down.
His Learnings From the Project
Skerry discussed how he realized the importance of family while shooting the series – whales that live together experience more bliss despite the survival hardships.