Disney+ Hotstar shared a clip and photographs showing hundreds of fin whales in the largest feeding aggregation ever filmed as part of the upcoming Disney+ Hotstar Original series from National Geographic, “Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory.”
The filming of the second largest whales on the planet, some growing up to 90 feet long, took place in the Drake Passage off the tip of the Antarctica Peninsula. To capture the almost mythical wildlife filmmaking event — which doubled the previous record and included 300 whales along with albatross, thousands of sea birds and a huge amount of other marine wildlife — it took Nat Geo Explorer Bertie Gregory and his film crew six weeks aboard a small 75-foot-long, ice-strengthened sailboat. Battling terrible weather conditions and 95 knots of wind, Bertie and the team managed to capture the moment utilizing three different camera techniques: drones for an aerial perspective, a military-grade gyrostabilized camera system for water-level filming, and diving equipment to reveal this spectacle from underwater.
“As summer turns to autumn in Antarctica, the day length becomes very short and the weather gets bad. We ended up having just six good filming days in our six-week expedition. Our hard work paid off as we managed to find the largest gathering of fin whales ever filmed. Diving amongst this unbelievable wildlife gathering was certainly the most extraordinary animal encounter I’ve been fortunate enough to have,” says Bertie Gregory.
Premiering Sept. 8 on Disney+ Hotstar, “Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory” breaks the mold of the traditional natural history program by telling amazing, real-life animal stories and taking viewers with him for every beat of the action. For weeks at a time, the charismatic 29-year-old BAFTA-winning cinematographer immerses himself into the animals’ lives to capture the untold stories of iconic creatures living in some of the harshest environments on our planet, from the icy worlds of Antarctica to the remote forests of Zambia, Africa, to the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles off the coast of Costa Rica. Bertie’s youthful curiosity is matched by his magnetism and ceaseless drive to take viewers on an epic and heart-warming journey to discover the fascinating, wonderous world we live in — sometimes even breaking the fourth wall to engage directly with viewers in a charming and accessible way.
Along with capturing the meeting of the massive whales, the expedition’s other goal was to allow scientists who monitor fin whale migration patterns to collect data by tagging the whales for a better understanding of these relatively poorly studied animals. Filming such an enormous aggregation of fin whales, which were hunted to the verge of extinction during the 20th century, is a very encouraging sign, suggesting that their numbers are bouncing back following the ban on commercial whaling. Positive conservation stories are rare these days, and this is a dramatic example of nature’s resilience when given a chance to recover.
“Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory” is produced by Wildstar Films for National Geographic. Bertie Gregory is host and director of photography. Wildstar executive producers are Vanessa Berlowitz and Anwar Mamon. James Brickell is series producer and director. Hugh Pearson, Susie Povey, Parker Brown, George Pagliero and Will West also direct across the series. Janet Han Vissering and Drew Jones serve as executive producers for National Geographic.