One of nature’s great reality shows
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 they are 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." It's 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. They turn it into a prime feeding area, said Bill Gardner. He is PBS vice president for programming and development.
Producers and camera operators are already preparing. They have traveled to Mexico to film whales that migrate to Monterey Bay. They also have been 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. 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 is a senior scientist at Conservation International, Liz Bonnin is a British host of BBC science programming,  and Joy Reidenberg is 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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Why is the program called "Big Blue Live?"
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • berettac-mil
    9/01/2015 - 08:00 p.m.

    The program is called "Big Blue Live" because like they said it's "right in your back yard" meaning you can go see it and be up close. Of course the "Big Blue" part comes from the fact that you are seeing marine life animals such as sharks, whales, and sea otters which come from the "big blue" ocean, get it?

  • santfordr-mil
    9/02/2015 - 09:55 a.m.

    It is called big blue lives because it is going to show about the lives of whales

  • brendans-mil
    9/02/2015 - 09:55 a.m.

    Because they are studying the lives of the animals under the water

  • gavinb-1-mil
    9/02/2015 - 09:57 a.m.

    It's called that because it's about some of the oceans animals.

  • brandomt-mil
    9/02/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

    The ocean is big and blue and the whole thing is about saving whales and wildlife and they live in the ocean

  • josephb-mil
    9/02/2015 - 10:04 a.m.

    It's a live broadcast of the marine life in California's Monterey Bay from the PBS and BBC

  • braidens-mci
    9/02/2015 - 12:02 p.m.

    it a big happy animal and they are nice i love thim

  • seanj-ver
    9/03/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    This artical is realy interesting and cool

  • kaileym-mil
    9/03/2015 - 09:17 p.m.

    This show is taking place under the surface of the ocean , also known as "The deep blue", Divers are going to new depths for extensive coverage on nature's giants. I personally think that the title speaks for itself.

  • dustinw-mil
    9/04/2015 - 07:47 a.m.

    They are wanting to catch the animals on tape for live television. I would love to watch something like this in person.

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