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Saturday
January 22nd, 2022

secrets of the whales spotlight pageThis mother Humpback whale teachers her calf a few life skills in this scene from “Secrets of the Whales” on Disney+. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The mysteries of what lie underneath the ocean have long been a bit of a point of fascination for me and this past weekend, I got the chance to expand my knowledge on the subject by watching the Disney+ and National Geographic collaboration “Secrets of the Whales.”

The series is narrated by Sigourney Weaver and the series’ four episodes follow Orcas, Beluga whales, Humpback whales and Sperm whales throughout daily life and other whale customs. 

To start off, the footage shot for the show (which I’ve recently read took three years), is absolutely stunning. Each shot is absolutely gorgeous and gives viewers such a good scope of what the ocean looks like and the lives of its inhabitants. Each shot is clear and sharp and actually sort of makes you feel like you’re right in the ocean with the camera people. I also liked how intimate the footage was, the people filming did a great job of capturing all of these gentle ocean giants up close without seeming to actually disturb anything. The most stunning footage came from the scenes in each episode that were focused more in the Arctic – the contrast of colors and just how crisp everything was ultimately yielded an absolutely stunning result that was great to watch. 

Something else I really liked about the series was the way the information shared during each episode was conveyed. It’s absolutely a documentary series, but there’s enough of the “human”  (whale) element that it doesn’t end up be just dry and factual and boring like many documentaries tend to be. The viewers learn different things about the different whales themselves while also being drawn into the more emotional/family elements of the each episode, so there’s a very good balance struck. Also, the information shared during each episode is fascinating in general, and I’m always up for learning new things. And with the way the information is conveyed, it’s a good watch for everyone in the family from the youngsters all the way to their parents.

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I also have to give credit to Weaver for her excellent narration during each episode. Her narration throughout the series is very smooth and everything she says flows very well. She’s able to convey just enough emotion with the more each scene while also sharing the actual facts about what is going on with the whales being featured. Also in on the collaboration are some divers with National Geographic, who also do a great job sharing more of the factual details throughout the show. National Geographic’s Brian Skerry is particularly fun to watch as he is unafraid to dive right in so he can get up close and personal with the wales throughout the episodes. So aside from the actual whales involved in the show, the humans involved also do a good job. And for those interested, the last 10 minutes or so of each episode feature some behind-the-scenes stuff from fellow executive producer James Cameron. 

A big takeaway viewers should take away from the series is how even though whales live in the ocean while we live on land, there really aren’t that many differences. Like humans, the whales featured in the show also have families and youngsters to take care of and watch out for, they also have concerns about where to get food and other sustenance, and they’re also worried about what will become of their home in the future. People should also take away how these whales aren’t just “stupid animals,” but actual living, breathing beings with thoughts and feelings of their own, with their own languages and cultures and knowledge to pass down to future generations. The series shows these whales can and do learn different things, and they’re certainly capable of feeling emotions and thoughts of their own, even if it’s not in a way humans can fully understand. With the Humpback episode, something that really struck me was how one of those whales’ songs started on one end of the planet and made its way to the other side of the planet, which just goes to show how interconnected everything is, even though again, it might not be fully understandable to humans. 

I also really liked the pacing of each episode, each of them lasted just the right amount of time to share the stories of these whales without dragging on and making viewers bored. There are only four episodes, so it’s also a series that can be watched in full in the space of a day, which I thought was really cool because you get just enough of a glimpse into the lives of these whales to get you interested in possibly learning more. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed my viewing of “Secrets of the Whales” and I would give it a solid “A.” The footage for each of the episodes is absolutely stunning, the humans involved do a great job (particularly Sigourney Weaver with her narration), and everything is conveyed in such a way that you learn some things while also following the stories of the featured whale families in the series. It’s great for adults and kids alike, so if you’re interested in the creatures of the ocean, “Secrets of the Whales” would definitely be good to stream. The series is available on Disney+. 

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