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More than a million watch cuttlefish doco

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Whyalla and its famous cuttlefish have been shown to more than a million blue water fans following a visit by American filmmaker Jonathan Bird and his family.

Jonathan produces a multiple Emmy Award-winning document series called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World. As one of the most widely-watched scuba diving show in the world, it is shown on television in more than 20 countries and has become a YouTube sensation with more than 425,000 subscribers.

Jonathan was in Whyalla last year and produced an amazing feature on the giant cuttlefish aggregation off Pt Lowly. The Boston-based filmmaker was blown away by the experience and described Whyalla and South Australia as one of the best dive destinations in the world.

He and his family hired a shack at Pt Lowly and spent days exploring the waters and filming the cuttlefish.

Jonathan kindly provided us with an intro to his feature on the cuttlefish and a link where you can watch the whole episode on YouTube below.

Below the YouTube link is a Question and Answer session we held with Jonathan.

 

Q&A WITH JONATHAN BIRD

Q: Where are you based and what is your show all about?

A: We are based in the Boston area (USA) and the show is an underwater science/adventure series that shows the wonders of the underwater world.

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Q: Who is the crew for your Whyalla cuttlefish feature?

Our crew typically consists of me, a second underwater cameraman and an above water cameraman.  In our productions, I am both the host and the primary cinematographer, as the series is about my adventures trying to film various underwater stuff around the world.  The second underwater cinematographer films me on the adventure, and the above water cinematographer handles all the surface stuff as well as aerials.  

My right hand man, and primary surface cameraman Zach Peterson was on this trip.  He is a very skilled cameraman above water, as well as drone pilot.  He shot everything above water including the aerials.  

My underwater camera "man" was my wife Christine.  She doesn't get to be the underwater cinematographer often, as she is a physician for her real job and often has to stay home and go to work while I'm out in the field.  But we scheduled this trip during summer vacation so the whole family could come.  

As a result, I took my kids, Elise and Liam (ages 15 and 12) on the trip as well.  They are both scuba certified and excellent divers.  They were certified to dive in Massachusetts (USA) where we live.  Summer water temperatures here are in the 60° F range, so they are used to diving in 7mm suits and chilly water.  

The whole thing really started as a family summer vacation and we decided to do a couple dives and make a couple episodes while we were at it.

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Q: How many people watch your show throughout the world?

A: Jonathan Bird's Blue World is on television in 20+ countries and of course available to watch for free 24/7 on YouTube anywhere there is an internet connection.  We have won eight Emmy awards for production excellence and we believe it is the most widely-watched scuba diving show in the world.  We currently have more than 425,000 subscribers on YouTube and growing rapidly--currently almost 1000 subscribers per day.

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Q: How much did you know about Whyalla before you came to Australia?

A: I first learned about Whyalla from an IMAX film called Under the Sea 3D made by Howard and Michele Hall in 2009.  Ever since then, I have wanted to get down there and see the cuttlefish.  In fact, when we were planning this trip, I called Michele for some advice.  I had no idea how shallow they are when they are spawning.  (Less than 4 metres).  You don't even need scuba.  I think a lot of non-divers should go check it out with just a snorkel!

Q: Was coming to Whyalla one of your biggest adventures?

A: When you tell people you are going to Australia to go diving, they assume you are going to the Great Barrier Reef.  We did some episodes in Queensland and the barrier reef a few years ago and it was fantastic, but Australia is so much more than the barrier reef.  

I learned to dive in the North Atlantic Ocean, and I'm fascinated with the creatures that live in temperate water.  I don't think there is temperate water anywhere in the world that compares with South Australia.  

Between the sea dragons, the Giant Australian cuttlefish, and the amazing macro life in places like Edithburgh, South Australia is easily one of the most magnificent dive destinations on Earth!  

I could spend a month diving this part of Australia and never get bored!

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Q: What did you think of Whyalla and were you made to feel welcome?

A: It sounds cliché to say that the people in this place or another are the nicest you ever met, but it really is true that Australians are right up there in the top three with Canadians and Fijians as the friendliest people I have ever met.  I love Australia!  We felt so welcome, we were so sad to leave.

Q: How has the reaction been to your segment on the cuttlefish?

A: Fascination. They are mesmerizing animals with a ton of character.  I really think they are way smarter than we would imagine.  

A lot of people have expressed how sad they are that the cuttlefish die after they mate.  I am happy to hear that Australia has been implementing changes to the fishery to help them recover from overfishing in the past.  

We didn't cover that in the segment, but overfishing is a huge problem in general.  I personally could never eat a cuttlefish.  They are just too adorable.

 

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