Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Voyage to Kure
Sharks at Risk
The Gray Whale Obstacle Course
America's Underwater Treasures
Return to the Amazon
Sea Ghosts: Belugas


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Premieres April 22, 2009.
(check local listings for repeat airings)

The most complex marine species on the planet, our counterparts in the sea, is the orca, the ruler of the ocean. Orcas, also called killer whales, are the most widely distributed marine mammal in the world -- their realm extends from the Arctic to the Antarctic. They number fewer than 100,000 worldwide, and learning more about them is a global endeavor for Jean-Michel Cousteau and his team of explorers, who travel to both the Northern and Southern hemispheres as they seek out killer whales in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Cousteau and the team discover that people and orcas share surprising similarities, even similar needs, and they relate their findings to the captivity and release of Keiko, from Free Willy fame, who captured the world's imagination and whose survival depended on pioneering efforts to reintroduce Keiko into the wild. The team also learns how some of the threats to killer whales now intersect with human lives. Intriguing detours in the expedition arise, leading to critical examinations of our environment, of the food on our dinner tables, even of our own health.

Related links

  • National Marine Sanctuary Encyclopedia: Orca
    This site includes natural history, video clips, images and fact sheets about orcas at the sanctuaries. (at
  • Center for Whale Research: Kenneth Balcomb
    Located in Friday Harbor, Washington, the Center for Whale Research has been conducting photo-identification research studies of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population for more than three decades. The richly informed website includes a live orca web cam, orca facts, audio recordings of orca sounds and the history of changing attitudes toward the orca. (at
  • Raincoast Research Society: Alexandra Morton
    Raincoast Research Society document orca whales passing through the waters of the Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia. The website features their recent research on the impact of salmon farming and the ecological pressures associated with this commercial activity on whales, salmon and other wildlife. (at
  • OrcaLab: Dr. Paul Spong
    The OrcaLab team has been studying whales from a research station on northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, since 1970. A unique network of hydrophones, positioned around the orcas' "core habitat," helps researchers monitor the orcas' movements year-round. The website includes extensive information on orca social organization. (at
  • Orca Research Trust: Dr. Ingrid N. Visser
    Orca Research Trust is a group of cetacean researchers that study whale populations in New Zealand, Iceland, British Columbia, South America and the Antarctic. The site includes New Zealand orca facts. (at
killer whale
Web-exclusive video
Killer whales hunt sharks, rays and sea lion pups with precision.
Ocean Science
beluga whale
In-depth: orca pods
Learn about the social lives of orcas.
Slideshow: Orca Attack
Slideshow: Orca Attack
Witness an orca attack on a grey whale in Monterey Bay.