Did Netflix’s Our Planet II Crew Jump the Shark?
The series’ producers recently revealed an encounter with hungry 15-foot tiger sharks and how they narrowly escaped using an inflatable boat as a barrier between them and the predators.
Our Planet II producer and director Toby Nowlan spoke radio times last week and described the harrowing encounter.
“This ‘V’ of water was rushing towards us and this tiger shark jumped onto the boat and bit huge holes in it. “The whole boat exploded,” Nowlan told the outlet. “We tried to get rid of it, but it didn’t do any good. It was terrible. This was the second shark that attacked us that day.”
For the first episode of the four-part series, the crew traveled to the northwestern Hawaiian island of Laysan, more than 600 miles from the main Hawaiian Islands, and spent six days sailing to an impossibly remote location where reportedly no one had filmed before.
The series focuses on wildlife migration this season, and Laysan Island is a breeding center for the Laysan Albatross, a large seabird native to the North Pacific. On the remote island, the albatross chicks are cared for by their parents until they are about six months old and the wind picks up enough to help the heavy birds on their first flight.
According to the documentary, when temperatures in the North Pacific peak towards the end of summer and the nearly adult albatross chicks prepare to cross the ocean in search of food, tiger sharks sense the change and change course, flying straight for laysan.
Huw Cordey, the series’ producer, narrated forbes that they had ventured into the shark-infested waters to follow the trials and tribulations of a single albatross chick for six weeks.
“The shoot itself was very interesting: it took six days to sail there from Hawaii, and I think we’re the first natural history series to film the maiden flight of a Laysan albatross. They are the longest-lived birds of all, taking this tremendous journey around the planet for years before they breed for the first time,” Cordey told the outlet.
“The original idea was to do an underwater shoot with the tiger sharks waiting in the Laysan shallows, but on the first day when the tiger sharks were around, the crew got into these inflatable boats and two sharks attacked them. It was like something out of Jaws.”
During one of the attacks, the boat began to deflate as the shark bit off chunks, but luckily the panicked crew was about 100 meters from shore and were able to make an “emergency landing” in the sand, where it was successfully repaired her boat up.
According to Nowlan, the behavior of the tiger sharks was “extremely unusual”.
“They were incredibly hungry, so maybe there wasn’t enough natural food and they just tried whatever they could find in the water.”
Nowlan doesn’t seem to bear any grudges towards the underwater predators. He posted a photo of himself on Instagram in scuba gear, clutching an underwater camera, with a giant shark by her side. “While hanging out with this beautiful specimen we happened upon — an oceanic whitetip fisherman, an open ocean wanderer,” he captioned the photo. “I feel like Sharks could use some better PR now.”
Our Planet II premiered on Netflix on Wednesday. Narrated by David Attenborough, the series “unveils the mysteries of how and why animals migrate”.