Whales and dolphins conjure a deep sense of wonder in us that’s hard to explain. From the Arctic to the Amazon, this groundbreaking three-part series goes on a global expedition with world-renowned underwater cameramen, Doug Allen (Planet Earth) and Didier Noirot (Jacques Cousteau’s cameraman), as they capture spellbinding footage of these marine mammals. Ocean Giants looks at how cetaceans hunt, mate, and communicate, and follows scientists as they strive to uncover new insights about these animals.
The first hour, Giant Lives, enters the world of the great whales. In the Arctic, giant bowhead whales survive the freezing cold wrapped in fifty tons of insulating blubber two-feet thick, making them the fattest animals on the planet. But the biggest animal on the planet is the blue whale. Measuring a hundred feet long, and weighing in at 200 tons, it is double the size of the largest dinosaur.
The second hour, Deep Thinkers, explores the cognitive and emotional lives of dolphins and whales. Like us, cetaceans have special brain cells, spindle cells, that are associated with communication, emotion, and heightened social sensitivity. These cells were once thought to be unique to us, but research is now showing that whales and dolphins may have up to three times more spindle cells than humans.
Marine mammals’ extrasensory perceptions and communication skills are the focus of Voices of the Sea, the final hour of the series. Whales and dolphins depend on sound to function in their ocean home. They use ultrasound to see inside other creatures, clicks and whistles to speak, and echolocation to navigate and hunt in the pitch-black depths.
Join PBS Nature, as it dives into the world of whales and dolphins, and reveals the secrets of their intimate lives like never before. Ocean Giants premiered on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 8/7 c on PBS.