We’ve all come to be amazed, entertained and blown away by the awesome acts of nature being filmed by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, and it seems that the latest series soon to be released, Blue Planet II, is not going to disappoint. For the first time ever, the team has managed to film giant fish literally leaping from the water to gulp down seabirds as they fly along the surface of the ocean.
The incredible act of the giant trevally fish predating on flying birds had never been photographed, let alone filmed before, making the sequence captured by the BBC even more impressive. “A rumour had come to us in Bristol from some South African fishermen that they’d seen Giant Trevally jumping out of the water and catching seabirds in mid-air,” explained Miles Barton, who directed the segment. “There wasn’t a single picture or video clip of this happening.”
“I haven’t been out on a shoot in 20 years where I haven’t had at least a still picture of the behaviour to go on. So I was sceptical, to say the least,” Barton continued.
But the accounts by the fishermen were so convincing, the unit sent a team of four people to see not only if the event was real, but also if they would be able to capture it on film. “You only take on one or two of these types of risky shoots on a show,” said Barton. “This was our biggest gamble.”
And boy did it pay off. As soon as they arrived in the Seychelles, the water was bubbling with activity as the fish launched themselves from the water in a bid to catch the fledgling seabirds mid-air. The challenge, however, was to commit this amazing behavior to film, and in a way good enough to put all other nature documentaries to shame.
Despite arriving in the remote archipelago with some of the most high tech gyro-stabilized cameras to go on the side of a boat, the team found that the best shots were achieved by the wonderfully low tech act of simply standing on a beach with the camera on a tripod and waiting for the giant trevallies to come to them and start feeding.
The shots will debut as part of Blue Planet II, which will air on BBC One in the UK on August 29 at 8pm BST, to be followed up soon after on BBC America. Twenty years after the initial series, and taking four years to film, in addition to the acrobatic bird snatching fish, it will also feature many other astonishing acts, including armor clad octopuses, tool-using fish, and the hairy-chested Hoff crab.