Close encounter: A whale takes a close path near an Ocean Vet camerman. *Photo supplied by Gassproductions
Close encounter: A whale takes a close path near an Ocean Vet camerman. *Photo supplied by Gassproductions
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The Ocean Vet crew will be sharing the underwater adventures filming their upcoming international series, at a public lecture on Monday.

Dr Neil Burnie will join local filmmakers Choy Aming and Andrew Kirkpatrick as well as gassProductions’ Andrew Smith and Dan Radford at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute from 7:30pm.

The first lecture last night sold out within a day.

The team will share up close and personal footage of their encounters with a group of humpback whales, outline their journey ahead and host a substantial Q&A afterwards.

The crew plans to shoot 11 episodes for the Ocean Vet series, each focussing on different ocean species, while the 12th will be a
diary on the making of the series. 

Aming told the Bermuda Sun that after weeks of difficult weather and a scarcity of whale encounters — last Saturday they finally  struck gold: “The weather has really put us through some paces (this season). 

“We were seeing whales every time we went out but we were chipping away very lightly. 

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I had to keep reassuring the team that we would get something good. 

“When you have a 10-hour day on the water getting beat up and you only get one minute of footage, even the most enthusiastic person will get a little disheartened. 

“It certainly created some drama on the screen and between ourselves. 

“But finally we went out on Saturday — it was the calmest day we had yet — and we found a big group of whales. They just turned on and we had about three incredible hours in the water with them and about four and a half hours with them in total. 

“In 15 years of filming and swimming with whales, this is definitely one of the best days we’ve ever had — certainly in the top three. There were about six or seven — it was pretty awesome. 

‘Friendlies’

“There were two in particular, we called them ‘friendlies’, who would let me and Neil (Burnie) get within ten feet of them probably on about five
different occasions.”

Choy says that with five cameras filming the spectacle from above and below the water’s surface, the team captured top class HD footage.  

The other episodes will focus on tiger sharks, Galapagos sharks, six gill sharks, sharks at night, lionfish, the black grouper (rockfish), Sargassum and pelagic creatures, turtles and eagle rays, and the final episode will be a diary charting highlights of the series and how they operated as a crew.

Aming added: “We have just started — we have only shot the majority of the first episode plus there has been a bunch of intro pieces shot around the aquarium. 

“We are only into the third week of shooting out of five months.

“Hopefully, if people get hooked on the series and watch the first 11, then they will be interested in seeing the diary of us packed in a little boat with cameras and how we actually did it all.”

The Ocean Vet series has been pre-sold to distributor Cineflix, who will be selling it to an international network on completion. 

They still don’t know which network it will be shown on or how many but previous gassProductions have previously distributed for the likes of Rod and Rucksack (Discovery), American Pickers (History Channel) and Property Brothers (WNetwork). 

The Ocean Vet lecture and Q&A takes place at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Monday, April 14. Call 294-0204 to book. Tickets are $20 for members or $25 for non members.