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Diving deep into the big blue

Lorna Cowan / 17 November 2017 ( 03 May 2018 )

Capture the action in oceans near Costa Rica, the Canary Islands, South Africa and South America.

Penguins on Boulders Beach, South Africa
Visitors are often surprised to find penguins on South Africa's shores - just some of the wonderful inhabitants of the deep blue sea

The topic of the fourth episode of Blue Planet II is ‘Big Blue’, as narrator David Attenborough takes viewers to one of the largest habitats on the planet – the vast open ocean that covers 65% of the earth.

Home to some of the world’s biggest and most incredible creatures, the big blue is a marine desert where there is little to eat and nowhere to hide. 

Surviving here can be a daily challenge, yet many animals find ingenious ways to accomplish just that.

With magnificent sperm whales communicating to each other using their own unique click language, and much smaller baby turtles turning floating debris into makeshift life rafts, this episode of Blue Planet II promises yet more high drama and impressive feats of endurance.

Special pressure-proof cameras were used to capture the action in oceans near Costa Rica, the Canary Islands, South Africa and South America – all destinations you can easily visit on a Saga holiday.

Browse our huge collection of holidays and cruises, including adventurous touring trips, relaxing beachfront getaways and luxury ocean cruises. Find out more here

Lanternfish off the coast of Costa Rica

Many animals spend the daylight hours in the deep dark waters of the world’s oceans, rising only to the surface as night falls to feed in a warmer, shallower environment. 

One such creature is the lanternfish, found in the tropical Pacific Ocean off the coast of Costa Rica.

Usually after dinner, the lanternfish swim back to the ocean floor. However, at certain times of the year, as they’re about to spawn, they’ll remain just under the waves throughout the day. 

It’s a risky business, as lanternfish are easy prey for others sharing the ocean, and a favourite dish on the menu for spinner dolphins.

Indeed, 5,000 of these dolphins are seen racing to herd vast shoals of lanternfish, resulting in the ocean appearing to frantically bubble away.

The Blue Planet II filming team were thrilled when they managed to capture the ‘boiling sea’ phenomenon on camera, though it was no easy task. 

Searching for a pod of dolphins in an area of ocean the size of Belgium, they required a helicopter to survey the action from above – which also provided unique aerial footage.

With an underwater cameraman being able to hone in on the drama from below, the resulting sequence on our TV screens is both remarkable and quite unbelievable.

Other marvellous wonders can be seen on land in Costa Rica, and on Saga’s new 18-night Contrasts of Central America all-inclusive tour, where guests are escorted to a wealth of the country’s highlights, including San José, Arenal volcano and Tortuguero National Park.

Exploring Muelle de San Carlos is also a delight, and it’s from here you can enjoy optional excursions to Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and a boat ride down Penas Blancas River. 

Have your camera at the ready – hummingbirds, sloths, anteaters and rare butterflies may all put in an appearance.

Green and serene - from verdant cloud forests to jungle-fringed beaches, Costa Rica is a little slice of paradise. Find out more about our Costa Rica holidays here

Pilot whales near the Canary Islands

In the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the Canary Islands, the Blue Planet II filming team came upon a pod of female pilot whales caring for their young calves. 

Highly social creatures with strong bonds, they appear to share the nursing duties, with some females even lactating and feeding offspring, despite not having a calf of their own.

The pilot whales’ commitment and dedication to their family is heart-warming, and heartstrings are tugged across the UK as we witness one family mourning the death of a calf.

In the same stretch of water, jelly-like Portuguese man o’ war are thought to be able to harness sail power and cruise at amazing speeds, making the most of the oceans’ trade winds. While on the move, dinner gets conveniently tangled in their deadly tentacles so they really can enjoy food on the go.  

Holidaymakers on Saga’s all-inclusive breaks in the Canary Islands also don’t need to worry about meals. With breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a free bar serving alcoholic and soft drinks, you can totally relax on all hotel stays.

Saga offers breaks to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and La Gomera, and as temperatures can reach a pleasant 20°C, even in January, there’s no need to wait for the summer months to head off to the sun. It’s a great value destination if you want to escape the British winter.

Go all-inclusive for a great-value hassle-free holiday! Find out more here

Great white shark off the shores of South Africa

There’s no denying that the great white shark lives up to the 'great' part of its name. It’s a formidable creature with a powerful tail, capable of propelling its 15ft body through water at a speed of 15 miles per hour. Then inside those huge jaws it has an astonishing 300 serrated triangular teeth.

However, as for it being white, well, only its underbelly is that colour. The shark’s upper body is actually slate grey, so it blends in with the rocky coastal sea floor and allows it to hide somewhat from any unsuspecting prey.

The Blue Planet II filming team, however, managed to find the magnificent shark prowling in the Atlantic Ocean, not far from mainland South Africa. It’s here, near Cape Town, that the bravest daredevils can get up close and personal with the great white shark, with a little help from a strong cage. 

However, others on holiday in South Africa may prefer to stay on shore and go in search of the other fascinating animals that live in this part of the world.

Whether you go on a safari to see the ‘big five’ or head to the coast hoping to catch glimpse of an African penguin, Saga has a wide range of holidays in South Africa for you to enjoy.

Alternatively, for a special trip, why not consider Saga’s South African Farewell Adventure Cruise. Departing from Portsmouth, this 54-night cruise is on board the Saga Pearl II, an elegant, classic ship that caters for 449 passengers. 

Winter 2018/19 will be her farewell season, so if you haven’t experienced the ship yet, don’t leave it too much longer.

South Africa, often described as a whole world in one country, is blessed with the lion's share of sights and experiences. Find out more about our holidays to South Africa here

Whale shark in the Pacific Ocean

In this episode of Blue Planet II, we follow a journey made by the whale shark, the biggest fish in the sea. Astonishingly, a shiver of pregnant whale sharks is captured on camera making an epic voyage across the South Pacific Ocean.

Why are these females prepared to travel such a huge distance to the Galápagos Islands, risking all en route? 

Scientists have never been quite sure, but this new footage seems to suggest that the deep waters found here are among the safest in the ocean, so therefore the ideal place to give birth.

Looking after young in a vast ocean full of hungry predators is not an easy task, but as viewers will see, the female whale shark will do whatever is necessary in order for her offspring to get the best start in life.

It was also while filming in this area around the Galápagos Islands that the Blue Planet II team saw some unusual behaviour from silky sharks, which have, as you’d expect, smooth and silky skin.

They may be a quarter of the size of an average whale shark, but that didn’t prevent them from rubbing up against the pregnant creatures, apparently trying to clean themselves.

Watching charismatic animals relax in their natural habitat is one of the wonders of a holiday in the Galápagos Islands, the string of isolated volcanic islands where Charles Darwin first developed his theories of evolution and natural selection.

Home to an array of unusual wildlife, many of which are native to their shores, limited numbers of visitors are guided daily to areas inhabited by inquisitive marine iguanas, gentle giant tortoises and colourful blue-footed boobies. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, which can be easily arranged with Saga.

The mysterious ruins of Macchu Picchu and lonely mountain peaks - there's a reason Peru is one of the most famous 'must-visit' destinations in the world! Find out more here

Wandering albatross on Bird Island in the Atlantic Ocean

Blue Planet II often puts a smile on our faces, especially when a creature defies all the odds and wins a tense battle, sometimes against the elements, sometimes against a vicious predator.

However, as regular viewers are all too well aware, there are also stories that don’t have a happy ending.

Such is the case of a pair of aging wandering albatross, seen in this week’s ‘Big Blue’ episode. 

Found on Bird Island, one of the richest wildlife sites in the world and situated on the north-west tip of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean, the wandering albatross holds the record for the bird with the largest wingspan – an impressive 3.5 metres.

Also impressive is the birds’ dedication to their young. Parents will do anything for their offspring, often risking their life in the process, and these two wandering albatross are no exception. Indeed, they make the ultimate sacrifice for their very last chick. Have your tissues at the ready.

Large colonies of albatross, the black-brown variety, are found on West Point, one of the wild and beautiful Falkland Islands also situated in the Atlantic Ocean, some 600 miles from South Georgia.

Lying in the north-west corner of the archipelago and found on the itinerary of a Cruise & Maritime Voyage cruise, sailing east to west around South America, West Point island is also home to the distinctive rockhopper penguin, as well as the southern giant petrel seabird.

The 70-night cruise, which sets sail from Bristol, calls in to the Falkland Islands’ capital, Port Stanley, too, as well as Natal, Recife and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Montevideo in Uruguay, and Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt and Valparaiso in Chile. The latter port lies west of Chile’s vibrant capital city, Santiago.

Be inspired by Saga's small-ship cruise experiences! Find out more here

Read more Blue Planet II reviews

Blue Planet II, episode 1: One Ocean

Blue Planet II, episode 2: The Deep

Blue Planet II, episode 3: Coral Reefs

Blue Planet II, episode 5: Green Seas

Blue Planet II, episode 6: Coasts


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.