Friday, December 22, 2006
Written by Fumo Verde
As a surfer and the son of a sailor, Mother Ocean has always called out to me, so when I got wind of this little video, I dove in headfirst. BBC Video has come up with a fantastic story about the life of a Sperm whale. Using live action footage, CGI technology, and the most recent scientific information, Ocean Odyssey takes us on adventure deep into the world of this planet’s largest living mammal, exploring the vast undersea landscape from which all life once came.
This is a great show for anyone interested in the science of the deep. The story starts with a Sperm whale that has beached himself on the shores of New Zealand. From here the narrator raises questions concerning the life of this massive creature of the abyss. We then flashback 80 years ago to 1926 where a ship is repairing telegraph lines that have been laid out across the Atlantic from Europe to America. Out in the mid-Atlantic near the Azores Island chain, a young male calf is preparing to make his first deep dive, something he will continuously to do for the rest of his life.
Whales are always on the search for food as they roam their kingdom. Along this journey our whale discovers his world through the sight of sonar. The clicking and snapping noises that whales make are not just for communication, but also act as radar giving the whale a 3-D map of the world under the water. In his travels, the whale battles Orcas, feasts on giant squid, dodges gas-filled rocks that shoot up from underwater volcanoes, and explores the ice-layered ocean of the Antarctic.
Not only do we learn about the Sperm whale, but we also encounter other strange lands and creatures. Heat vents are sediment deposits that plume like smoke stacks rising off the ocean floor. At seven-stories high, they let out the heat and pressure from deep inside the mantle of the earth; they are also breeding grounds for tiny organisms, which are the building blocks of the greater food chain.
The underwater plains and valleys that our whale roams come alive through computer generated imagery, or CGI. Lighting up the ocean where even the sun cannot penetrate is a sight to see in itself. Using satellite charting of the ocean floor, the filmmakers have blended together a grand picture of what the land looks like under all that water. They show us the tallest mountain on our planet, Mt. Kilauea, which when measured from its base on the ocean floor is one thousand meters taller than Mt. Everest. We also get a CGI look at a curtain of fire, a split in the ocean's Pacific floor. Here the planet is renewing itself as earthquakes and volcanoes force the mantle plates apart and form a new ocean floor. These are some of the aspects of the film that make it stand out among other documentaries. We even have a climax when our whale goes to chow down on the second biggest creature in the sea, the colossal squid.
I was enthralled from the opening of the movie to the very end. This is a single DVD with two episodes, each running 60 minutes. Bernard Hill is the narrator and he does a superb job. The only thing I didn't like, and it’s because I'm a lazy American and I like it that way, is that every thing was in the Metric system. I'm used to feet, miles, and tons rather than meters and kilos (at least not these kilos). Hearing Bernard say that an adult male has to eat up to one thousand kilos of food per day to stay alive made me have to think about how much a kilo is. I found myself backtracking on the disk because I missed something during my thoughts about weight. That's just me; most of you probably won't have that problem.
A great tool for learning and an amazing adventure to embark on, BBC Video makes a big splash with this whale tale. For the young budding oceanographer or anybody who loves the world around them, this movie is great and should be watched by the whole family. This one goes on Fumo's "Very Highly Recommended" list.