ENTERTAINMENT
23/01/2018 21:32 GMT | Updated 23/01/2018 22:49 GMT

NTAs: 'Blue Planet' Producer Reveals How A Cameraman Saved The Baby Sperm Whale (But It Wasn't Easy)

'Sometimes, you feel compelled to do something.'

As ‘Blue Planet’ fans will know, the series doesn’t always have a happy ending, with nature taking its course and claiming the lives of many of the animals, birds and fish featured. 

But in the most recent series, it wasn’t nature that was causing the problems, as plastic waste dumped into the oceans by humans formed the focus of the episodes. 

BBC
The bucket was lodged in the whale's mouth

One particularly memorable scene saw a sperm whale with a plastic bucket lodged in its jaw and Sir David Attenborough’s narration informed viewers that the plastic left the whale in danger of choking. 

It’s no exaggeration to say the scene devastated viewers up and down the country, but at Tuesday’s (23 January) National Television Awards, the ‘Blue Planet’ team revealed that - this time - there was a happy ending. 

Producer James Honeyborne explained that he’s been asked about the whale’s fate numerous times since the episode aired, before revealing what happened. 

“As wildlife filmmakers we must let nature take its course, we don’t want to interfere with it,” he said. “But sometimes, you feel compelled to do something.

ITV
'Blue Planet III' producer James Honeyborne 

“If you see a turtle trapped in a plastic bag or a humpback while wrapped up in a fishing net, you’ve got to step in.

“I’m pleased to say thats what happened with the baby sperm whale, but it wasn’t easy.“

“Renee the cameraman swam over to it and put his camera aside and took the bucket. The sperm whale looked at him and took the bucket back. So he took it off the whale and the baby calf came over and took hold of his leg. 

“At that point Renee realised he was going on a ride... down. And the whale dived and took him down. Renee was snorkelling and all he could do was hold his breath. He had to wait until the whale wanted to come up and luckily that happened before he couldn’t breathe. 

“That’s what it took to get one little bit of plastic out of the ocean.” 

PA Wire/PA Images
David backstage at the NTAs 

The ‘Blue Planet’ team were on stage to accept the Impact Award and Sir David was keen to emphasise that the win was the result of incredible teamwork. 

“These are the people who should be holding this,” he said, gesturing to the crew behind him. “But I know that they would join me in saying that what we were all trying to do is raise an issue that is of great importance, not only to this country, but worldwide.”

Blue Planet II’s impact has been felt up and down the country and speaking shortly after the new episodes aired, David stated that he thinks our oceans could be “at a crisis point”. 

“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong,” he said (via the Guardian). 

“It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans.

″[They] are under threat now as never before in human history. Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point.” 

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