Press Centre

Britain’s Whales

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 25 Mar 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 12 2016 : Sat 19 Mar - Fri 25 Mar
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

Over two programmes, Britain’s Whales and Britain’s Sharks, Ben Fogle and Ellie Harrison go in search of Britain’s sharks and whales. Using the biggest bait on Earth they witness the greatest gathering of sharks ever seen in UK waters and come face to face with a pod of giant Humpbacks. Viewers will get to witness the first ever study of a whale fall event in the UK. Supported by leading experts, both programmes promise to present an unrivalled opportunity for viewers to gain a close insight into marine life around the British Isles.
In programme one, Britain’s Whales, Ben comes face to face with humpbacks off the coast of Ireland and sees spectacular scenes of dolphins and humpbacks working together to corral fish. “This ocean is alive, it’s just incredible here in the British Isles,” says Ben.  “We’ve got dolphins pushing all of the bait together; we’ve all of the birds feeding in a great frenzy above, and we’ve got these magnificent humpback whales coming up and joining in the feast.”
Ben is with Padraig Whooley from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group who believes the waters off Kerry are becoming a real hotspot for humpbacks with more than 30 being seen here every summer.
Fin whales the size of buses and 10-metre Minke whales are just some of the giants that visit the British Isles, many undertaking extraordinary journeys to reach our shores.  But despite their size, relatively little is known about their lives. To try and find them, the team mount an extraordinary expedition to the Celtic Deep, a little known area of water sitting between the Cornish, Welsh and Irish coasts. But to find sharks they need some help.
The team are notified that a 9 metre humpback has drowned, entangled in lobster pot lines off Helmsdale in NE Scotland. Saved from landfill, the whale will give the ultimate gift of life back to the ocean.  As a lorry weaves its way through the North Devon countryside with an extraordinary cargo inside, Ben and Ellie, with a team of whale-fall and sharks experts, are about to embark on an extraordinary expedition.
Ellie Harrison heads out first on a converted trawler to explore the tiny islands lining the Pembrokeshire coast. Her plan is to meet with Ben and the whale, in the Celtic Deep in 24 hours’ time.  As she passes the tiny island of Grassholm, she meets some of the first creatures they could meet again in the Celtic Deep. The 4th largest gannet colony in the world, Grassholm is home to more than 80,000 adults.
As Ellie heads on towards the Smalls, a treacherous outcrop of rocks lying some 20 miles offshore, she has a magical encounter snorkelling with grey seals. “That was one of the best experiences I‘ve ever had,” says Ellie as she witnesses seals playing in the water around her.  As the creatures travel up to a hundred miles on their fishing trips, the crew could soon meet them again out in the Celtic Deep.
As Ben leaves from North Devon with the whale carcass, the UK’s first ever whale-fall expedition is underway. “The dream would be if we got some sharks. That’s not to say I’m not anxious and nervous about the whole thing, particularly diving in very deep waters with British Sharks” says Ellie.
Ben and Ellie are about to encounter the largest gathering of sharks ever seen in British waters.