VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory On Filming Largest Herd Of Whales Ever
“We went with such an ambitious target. It was definitely the most ambitious expedition I’ve ever run,” Gregory revealed. “That was the big one because that was really what I’d gone to National Geographic with when I was pitching this project. We can go for the biggest gathering of whales ever in Antarctica and they went, ‘Yeah!’ and I went, ‘Oh okay, how are we going to go do it?’ We had a month aboard an ice strength and sailboat across the infamous Drake Passage from South America down to Antarctica.
“The weather was awful,” he continued. “We had six filming days in the whole month and the rest of the time we were hanging on for dear life as icebergs scraped down the hull and our anchor dragged in the storms and all sorts. It all came together right at the end and we ended up filming the biggest gathering of Fin Whales ever. It was absolutely mind blowing to see that many whales with thousands of penguins and albatross and seals. To be able to film it from the air with drones, from water level with gyro-stabilized cameras and then to actually get in the water in amongst that gathering was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.”
The explorer also shared why capturing the whales on film was one of his long-held career goals.
“It’s one of the holy grails of wildlife film,” Gregory explained. “I remember when I first heard about it, I went to a presentation by one of the producers for the Frozen Planet series. It was a David Attenborough series that came out in 2011 – ten years before we went out on this expedition. A producer was talking about all the amazing things they filmed as part of this series and someone in the audience stood up during the Q&A and asked, ‘Okay, you’ve talked about all the things you filmed, but what did you go for and fail at? What did you not get?’ The producer said, ‘We went multiple times for a mega gathering of whales in Antarctica and didn’t film it. It remains one of the holy grails of wildlife film.’ I was like, ‘Huh. Cool. Right. We’ll park that one.’
“To then have a project that we had the resources to go after something like this because operating in Antarctica for any length of time is very challenging, I needed to build the right team and I was fortunate enough to work with some of the best in the business,” he said.
Stream Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory on Disney+ today.
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