BLUE SERENGETI [DOCUMENTARY | 43 MINUTES | 2016]
Dr. Barbara Block has been studying the white sharks off of California for more than 27 years. Now, with breakthrough camera tag and tracking technology, she and her team are on a mission to give viewers a portrait of this great predator's domain, POV style. Dr. Block coined the name "Blue Serengeti" for her home, the Monterey Bay, as it's home to some of the most magnificent wildlife spectacles in the world happening below the big blue.
Director - Robert Nixon
Camera Operator - Connor Gallagher (Nomad Island)
Partners - Block Lab at Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Production - Discovery Channel & True Blue Films
International Ocean Film Festival (Winner Award for Science)
Discovery Channel Shark Week Finale (2016)
BLUE SERENGETI MAKING WAVES
From Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions
[Blue Serengeti] features cutting-edge technologies researchers are using to explore why predators and prey alike migrate thousands of miles every year to three hotspots off the coast off California. Using Camera Tags that mount directly on ocean predators, researchers have been able to gain a first-hand perspective of white sharks, whales, elephant seals and sea lions as they travel through the waters of California’s National Marine Sanctuaries. Blue Serengeti showcases this newly gathered footage and tag data on movements, making viewers feel like they are right in the water with these animals.
The Great Serengeti Parks of Africa are famous for the migrations of millions of wildebeest, zebra and giraffes that are followed by great predators such as lions and cheetahs. On an even grander scale—though much less known—the waters off Monterey, California and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary brim with seasonal populations of predators that come from across the Pacific to feed on abundant prey. Extensive electronic tagging by the science team in the past decade has revealed these great migrations which the film shows in detail.
“Blue Serengeti tells the story of why Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a lunch stop for many large predators and makes the direct comparison between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Great Serengeti Parks of Africa,” said Professor Barbara Block of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.
Block and Mr. William Douros, Regional Director for the west coast National Marine Sanctuaries, have compared the wildlife aggregations offshore central California to Africa’s most iconic savanna ecosystems.
“All three of the National Marine Sanctuaries in the heart of the California Current – Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank and Monterey Bay – are natural history hotspots, and the marine wildlife viewing here is unparalleled to anywhere in the world’s ocean,” said Douros. “Natural oceanographic and biological processes create an enormously-productive natural ecosystem, which supports diverse food webs and incredible tourism and recreational opportunities as well.”
With the beauty and complexity of white sharks and their prey, extraordinary scientists and technology, and never-before-seen underwater views from the breathtaking underwater habitats of California National Marine Sanctuaries, Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning wildlife filmmaker Bob Nixon working in collaboration with the scientific team delivers a breakthrough effort in science storytelling in Blue Serengeti to explain the complex oceanographic processes that drive one of the greatest migration on earth to the waters off Monterey, California.
“Right off our California shores we have one of the ocean’s most stunning congregations of predators and prey - wilderness like this is vital to the ocean’s health,” said Dr. Sal Jorgensen, a Senior Research Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We almost lost this once, when seals, sea lions, whales and other species were hunted to near extinction. More than ever we need bold efforts to conserve wide-ranging marine species throughout their range.”
The team uses autonomous vehicles to map the ocean floor, understand the currents and the environmental factors that support this incredible hotspot of biodiversity. Non-invasive Camera Tags, which incorporate the latest sensor technology for HD video recording and a suite of sensors that measure swimming speed, depth, and other information, are attached directly to humpback whales, elephant seals, and white sharks and allow the research team to view and recreate the movement and behaviors of Monterey’s seasonal visitors.
“Historically, most of our understanding of the behavior of these amazing predators has come from brief encounters near the ocean’s surface,” explained Taylor Chapple, a research scientist at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. “It’s like trying to understand everything about people by watching their behavior at a coffee shop. These Camera Tags allow us to travel with the animals wherever they go and actually see their behaviors, the habitats that they use and how they interact with other species and individuals.”
Director Bob Nixon captures all of this action through the eyes of scientists, autonomous vehicles and the sharks themselves.
Blue Serengeti takes the viewer on a journey that shows unprecedented, never-before-seen underwater views from the California National Marine Sanctuaries, to find out why the greatest migration on earth comes here, to the waters off Monterey, California.