One of nature’s great reality shows This image released by PBS shows a humpback whale to promote a three-night special called "Big Blue Live," starting Aug. 31. The event is a collaboration with the BBC about marine life in California's Monterey Bay. PBS calls it "one of nature's great reality shows," made possible by the bay's unique geography and a turnaround from severe pollution that curtailed marine life there for many years. (Bertie Gregory/naturepl/PBS via AP)
One of nature’s great reality shows
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PBS is bringing a live whale watch into the nation's living rooms - and throwing in some seals, sea otters, dolphins and pelicans.
 
For three evenings starting tonight, Aug. 31, the public broadcast station is airing a collaboration with the BBC about marine life in California's Monterey Bay. "Big Blue Live" will have separate East and West Coast feeds.
 
PBS calls it "one of nature's great reality shows," made possible by the bay's unique geography and a turnaround from severe pollution that curtailed marine life there for many years. Nutrients from deep-water canyons flood the bay at this time of year, turning it into a prime feeding area, said Bill Gardner, PBS vice president for programming and development.
 
Producers and camera operators are already preparing, having traveled to Mexico to film whales that migrate to Monterey Bay, and to New Zealand for birds that make the long journey over the Pacific Ocean. Ships, even drones, are being employed to keep producers informed about the areas of greatest animal activity.
 
The BBC, which is doing its own live broadcasts during the week before U.S. viewers see it, instigated the project. It made perfect sense for PBS to join in, Gardner said.
 
"This is live natural history that can engage our audience and it was right in our backyard," he said.
 
Since no one can be certain that whales will be most active precisely during the broadcasts, stories are being prepared in advance for the quiet times. One story will profile a scientist studying shark migration and another will illustrate the bay's rejuvenation through the return of sea otters.
 
The hour-long telecasts begin at 8 p.m. on both coasts. That's still late afternoon for West Coast viewers, but it will be getting dark for East Coast prime time. While that might mean less live footage for western viewers, they'll also be able to see the transition to nighttime animal activity.
 
"You can never guarantee anything live," Gardner said. "But we feel that we've hedged our bets so that we can have something that will keep people riveted."
 
The U.S. broadcasts have three anchors: M. Sanjayan, a senior scientist at Conservation International; Liz Bonnin, a British host of BBC science programming; and Joy Reidenberg, a marine mammal expert who has been on the PBS show "Inside Nature's Giants." A website will stream continuous live views from the bay for viewers interested in a deeper dive.
 
Participants say that all the attention won't have a negative impact on the animals involved. Strict rules govern how close observer boats can get to the whales, for example, and it generally takes that professional help to know where the animals are, Reidenberg said.
 
"It's a positive thing because people get to interact with the animals and see them, and the more they see the animals, the more they love the animals, and the more they love the animals, the more they want to protect them," she said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the program called "Big Blue Live?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (3)
  • laytonb-mil
    9/04/2015 - 08:01 a.m.

    PBS is bringing live footage to see the whale in action , the blue whale will be televised so people can watch

  • larocca,john-1-cas
    9/08/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    The program is called "Big Blue Live" because the makers follow a blue whale or a family of blue whales and study there everyday lives. I liked this article because it shows how smart other species really are and how they survive in there environment.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    3/16/2016 - 12:33 a.m.

    The people might have been setting up one of nature's great reality shows which people might have wanted to see the live footage on the whales that they would be seeing the whales on live cameras. The people might have wanted to see the live footage of the whales that would go to their prime feeding area which people would need to do it at night because deep-sea canyons would get animals out from the deep. The people might have been seeing about the whale prime feeding areas which people might have wanted to get the whales on the live footage camera. People might have wanted to research on where the whales would be doing at night which people might have wanted to go to where the whales would go to their prime feeding habitat.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why is the program called "Big Blue Live?"
    Answer: Because the the program would be getting a live program up to where the whales are going to be doing during the live footage.

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