Statement About Safety

BBL_ViewingWildlife.jpgBBC/Monterey Bay Aquarium

There are important laws and guidelines surrounding watching some of the stars of Big Blue Live in the wild. These are not only there for the animals safety, but also for your own. Wild animals can be unpredictable, particularly when put in stressful situations, such as close proximity to humans. It should be noted, feeding, attempting to feed or harassing marine mammals in the wild is ILLEGAL.

Intentionally approaching marine mammals on boats, paddleboards, or kayaks, especially the large whales, is potentially very dangerous or even fatal. A startled or panicking animal is easily capable of causing serious harm, even accidentally, so where possible admire them from afar.

For more information on viewing marine wildlife safely, please head to NOAA’s guidance page.

Filming Wildlife on Big Blue Live

The filming of Big Blue Live has been made possible with the co-operation of many of our partners working in wildlife conservation in the US.  There are strict regulations in the USA surrounding the filming and viewing of wildlife.  The BBC Natural History Unit also has its own guidelines for filming wildlife, under which all the Big Blue Live teams operate.

In order to film wildlife on the ocean and on land in California and Mexico for Big Blue Live, the teams have adhered to strict filming protocols and the regulations set out in the United States 1972 Marine Mammal Act. Big Blue Live has been given permission to film Marine Mammals within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a department within the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Permit number: 19526-00 has been issued for ‘commercial or educational photography activities on marine mammals.’ We have been allocated this permit in the context of the production, namely Big Blue Live, ‘examining Marine Issues and Conservation Successes along the coast of California.’

No permits are issued to filming companies for the filming of large cetaceans, such as Blue Whales, Humpback whales and Orcas, due to their protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Strict guidelines and distances from these animals will be adhered to at all times.  For many months Big Blue Live has been in conversation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to seek their guidance and to be fully briefed on the distances to be observed when filming these animals.

Big Blue Live also has a permit to film Sea Otters in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary waters, primarily at Point Lobos, Moss Landing Elkhorn Slough and Monterey Harbours.  This permit has been issued to this production by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Permit number: MA62018B-1 allows our teams to film up to 10 sea otter pups (at least 3 weeks to 8 months of age) and 100 adults/sub-adults (including up to 10 mother/pup pairs) by boat and from land.

There were instances where Big Blue Live was able to film under a scientist’s permit, where our filming was deemed to be beneficial to the permit holder’s scientific research.

See below for a list permits where these circumstances apply:

John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research Collective #16111-01

Dr. Barbara Block, Stanford University / Dr. Salvador Jorgensen, Monterey Bay Aquarium #MULTI-2014-013-A1

Relevant Links

Viewing guidelines

Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program

California Sea Lion Unusual Mortality Event

Streaming on:

Your purchase supports PBS and helps make our programming possible.


Support your local PBS station