The World's greatest oceans

Lorna Cowan / 30 October 2017

Narrator Sir David Attenborough is back on our TV screens with Blue Planet II and like the award-winning Blue Planet, the BBC’s nature documentary series first shown in 2001, he takes viewers on one incredible journey after another, exploring the world’s oceans.



Vast stretches of ocean cover approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, yet we have still much to learn about what lies beneath. Where do thousands of sea creatures live and how do they survive?

Fortunately for us viewers, the Blue Planet II team have spent four years travelling on 125 expeditions to 38 countries around the world, taking with them the latest cutting-edge technology capable of deep underwater filming. The resulting sequences are captivating.

In the first episode (29/10/17) entitled ‘One Ocean’, we’re taken from the intense heat of the tropics to the planet’s frozen poles, getting up close and personal to a wealth of weird yet wonderful wildlife.

Fantastic footage was filmed in the oceans surrounding the Seychelles, Mexico, Norway, Australia and Japan – all destinations you can easily visit on a Saga holiday.

Make 2018 extra special on a holiday of cruise with Saga. Find out more here.

Great trevallies in the Indian Ocean

The new series of Blue Planet II will, like Planet Earth II, keep viewers on the edge of their sofas. One of the most jaw-dropping sequences in the first episode features a giant trevally, a huge bulldog-like fish that can weigh up to 12 stone.

Living in the Indian Ocean, these sea creatures are formidable hunters and when they’re hungry, nothing prevents them from catching a tasty dinner.

Watch out then, the 500,000 terns who are seen nesting on an island in the Seychelles. 

Unbeknown to the fledglings flying over the ocean, lurking beneath the waves are a school of giant trevallies that, as David Attenborough narrates, ‘are fish with a brain capable of calculating the air speed, altitude and trajectory of a bird.’

Cue some astonishing camera action - of a giant trevally leaping out of the water to grab a tern mid-air. It’s a highlight of the new series.

The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 granite and coral islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa.

With crystal-clear seas, golden sand beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, the islands are an appealing home to a large number of animals, including the native giant Aldabra tortoise.

On Aride island, a dedicated nature reserve and one of the destinations visited on Saga’s Seychelles Island Explorer cruise keep your eyes peeled for 18 species of native birds, including five which are only found in the Seychelles.

It won’t take long for visitors to the Seychelles to realise the islands are the epitome of paradise. Cruising from one heavenly location to the next, it really is a dream destination. 

Relax and take it all in, or jump in the ocean and enjoy a snorkel or swim - just watch out for those big fish!

Discover more about the Indian Ocean paradise that is the Seychelles Find out more here.

Mobula rays in the Sea of Cortez

Filming tiny marine organisms reacting to the movement of mobula rays in the Sea of Cortez, situated between the Mexican mainland and the Baja California peninsula, involved the Blue Planet II team using state-of-the-art low-light technology. The result is a sparkling show like no other.

Famously called ‘the world’s aquarium’ by French explorer Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is believed to be home to more than 900 species of fish, a wealth of marine mammals, as well as thousands of species of invertebrates.

And it’s some of these minute bioluminescent organisms that flicker with light when disturbed by the wing beats of shoaling mobula rays, who haphazardly jump some nine feet out of the water.

No one really knows why the rays that gather in the Sea of Cortez every spring seemingly fly across the waves. Is it to tell others they’ve found a good feeding spot, or does it encourage other mobula rays to mate? Whatever, the culminating light display is enchanting.

Visitors to Mexico will also be memorised by the country’s sun-drenched beaches, natural wonders and fascinating Aztec and Mayan ruins. The remains of ancient civilisations are dotted all over, not only deep in the jungle, but also perched along the coast.

The wild Pacific coastline around Puerto Escondido and the mountains of Chiapas are often on the itinerary of cruise ships in the area. 

Azamara Club Cruises’ Uncover Central America and the Panama Canal cruise, available to book via Saga, takes passengers to Cabo San Lucas, located on the southern tip of the long thin arm of the Baja Peninsula, and famous for its marina and beautiful bay. Stay on deck as you sail by – you never know what you may spy.

Cruising with other cruise lines – discover Saga’s Cruise World portfolio. Find out more here.

Asian sheepshead wrasse in the Pacific Ocean

While filming Blue Planet II, cameras were taken to a kelp-covered shipwreck lying deep in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Japan. 

Here the filming team found an extraordinary creature called the Asian sheepshead wrasse, or kobudai. Not only does the pinkish-grey fish with its great bulbous chin and forehead look rather unusual, the female kobudai also undergoes an astonishing metamorphosis, changes gender and becomes a male.

Understandably, this sex change can come as quite a surprise to the other male kobudai who frequent the cooler waters around Asia when mating season begins at the start of the summer. 

Older males in particular are not at all pleased to find new competition challenging them for their harems. However, this transformation has selective benefits as by mating with a wide variety of females, males will pass on more genes than an individual female would.

Other wonders can also be found on land. From the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo to the historic UNESCO village of Shirakawa-go, Japan is an alluring country full of temples, shrines and castles. 

And there’s plenty of traditional Far Eastern culture to indulge yourself in too. Whether you’re watching a kimono show, participating in a tea ceremony or enjoying some local sushi, a holiday is Japan will be memorable for all the right reasons.

On Saga’s Japan: Land of the Rising Sun escorted tour, holidaymakers additionally get the chance to cruise on the scenic Lake Ashi overlooked by Mount Fuji, explore the former political centre – and seaside town – of Kamakura, as well as spend time in the volcanic Owakudani Valley.

Plan your trip at the end of March or beginning of April and you’ll be wowed by Japan’s abundance of cherry blossom which turns the whole landscape a pretty shade of pink

Discover the ultra-modernity and ancient traditions of Japan. Find out more here.

Humpback whales in the Arctic Ocean

The fjords of northern Norway provide the dramatic background for mesmerising footage of humpback whales, seen in this week’s Blue Planet II tucking into a feast of herring.

At the South Pole and the North, the ocean’s surface is usually locked in ice. However, in the Arctic, a warm current from the south keeps some Norwegian fjords ice-free all year round.

The Blue Planet II filming team spent what seemed like endless days waiting patiently in the flat calm waters surrounding the remote island of Vengsoya, hoping to catch sight of the humpback whale.

And when they noticed pods of orca in the vicinity, they knew it would only be a matter of time before the bigger marine mammals made an appearance.

They were right. The noise the orca make when using their tails to stun the herring inadvertently alerts the humpback that a meal is ready. All the huge whales need to do is turn up and tuck in to a magnificent fish supper. Interestingly, this interaction appears to be the only non-antagonistic encounter between these two sea creatures in the world.

Winding your way along the striking Norwegian fjords on a cruise gives you a chance to witness Mother Nature at her finest, whatever the season you choose to travel. 

And when you sail with Saga on smaller ships, it allows you to berth closer to shore and closer to the action. Indeed, exciting excursions and adventures await those who step onto dry land – you can even take to the air on an exhilarating helicopter ride over Pulpit Rock, a steep cliff which rises over 600 metres above the Lysefjorden.

On Saga’s Northern Lights cruise, departing from Portsmouth, passengers will be joined by representatives from ORCA, the foremost European whale and dolphin conservation charity. Don’t miss their regular whale-spotting sessions on deck.

Set sail on a magical voyage to the Northern Lights Find out more here.

Orange-dotted tuskfish at the Great Barrier Reef

On a cold Sunday evening in dear old Blighty, it’s a thrill to be transported to the sunshine on the other side of the world.

And viewers of the first episode of Blue Planet II are whisked off to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to meet a remarkable orange-dotted tuskfish, seen hammering away at clams using a rock as a makeshift anvil.

The Great Barrier Reef in the Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest coral reef system and as it contains so many species of sea creatures, it’s a ferociously competitive environment.

If the tuskfish is to survive, it needs to be persistent in its search for food. As a result, when ‘Percy’ (as the Blue Planet II crew nicknamed their new friend) stumbled upon a hard shell, he’d simply hit it over and over again, often repeating the action 50 times, until it fell open.

Blue Planet II cameras followed the movements of ‘Percy’ for around 100 hours, and captured another first in underwater filming.

Amazingly, after the tuskfish blows in the sand to find a clam, or bravely steals one from another fish, he always returns to his favourite spot to use the same anvil rock to crack the clam open.

No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. So it’s no surprise to see the destination on the itinerary of Saga’s Australian Adventure tour, alongside Oz’s many other highlights - Sydney’s Opera House and Ayers Rock, to name two. 

While in Cairns, holidaymakers are escorted on a catamaran trip to the tropical Green Island, a National Park and beautiful 6,000-year-old coral cay. Don’t forget your camera to capture this island paradise.

Discover more about Australia and what it has to offer on an Australian Adventure holiday Find out more here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.