“Secrets of the Whales”

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: And I want to know what you were thinking when you took on this new project about whales for Nat Geographic and Disney+?

CAMERON: Well, I think a number of things. First of all, Disney has acquired the National Geographic brand. And they are really leaning into it. They really love it. It has got sort of great alignment with their mission statements around helping people understand the planet and each other and so on. So that was a real plus going into it. Also, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the diving myself. So what could I offer? I figured I can work on the narrative with the people that are out in the ocean doing the hard yards over three years. It took them three years to shoot this, 24 locations around the world, lots and lots and lots of hours spent underwater and at the surface, as you can imagine, waiting for the whales to show up and do something interesting. And I think the challenge was, what are we showing people that they haven’t seen before? Everybody has seen beautiful images of whales, slow motion, leaping out of the water and things like that. We all know it. It stirs our soul, for some reason. We love these animals. What can we show people that they haven’t seen before or maybe teach them? I thought I knew a lot about whales. Turns out I’d only scratched the surface, so to speak.

AMANPOUR: You have done one of the episodes on ghost whales. I had never even heard of it. But we’re going to play this clip right now.



NARRATOR: There’s only one true white whale, like a ghost and just as mysterious. Beluga whales smile, show emotion with facial expressions. They have one of the largest vocabularies in the ocean.


AMANPOUR: That must have been an amazing thing for a director like yourself to see and to try to put into a story which is being released on Earth Day, these animals that seem almost human.

CAMERON: Well, right. I mean, certainly, our anthropocentric perspective is to ascribe human characteristics to the whales. Maybe we’re just more like them than we thought previously. What’s the common through line? These are intelligent animals. They’re emotive. You could see that with the belugas in particular. They have complex speech. The belugas especially have complex speech, but so do the – – so do all the other species as well.

About This Episode EXPAND

Patricia Espinosa, James Cameron, John Kasich, Jerome Foster II