Celebrating our Blue Planet

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 9 November 2017

8th November 2017: A packed house of MCS supporters and friends enjoyed a night to remember, celebrating our blue planet with special guests, film clips and stories linked to the landmark Blue Planet II BBC series. Top of the bill, two of the series producers showed clips and out-takes, and told their intriguing tales in making this epic TV event.

Hugh Raven addresses blue planet audience
John Ruthven and Sarah Conner

John Ruthven, who produced the open ocean episode “Big Blue”, showed how technology has moved on from the time of the original Blue Planet series, which he also worked on. He brought along a parachute-based rig made to get blue whale footage 2001, which he described as an uncontrollable “drone of its day”. Another modern prop was a sticky camera that has been harmlessly attached to a sperm whale to get intimate footage of its daily activities, using suction cups akin to a bathroom sink plunger.

Sarah Conner showed some scenes already aired, of false killer whales interacting with bottlenose dolphins in surprising ways, and walruses on Arctic icebergs, telling how they were filmed. She was also able to hint at highlights coming up in the series, whetting the appetite and, like all good speakers, leaving the audience wanting more. Having worked a great deal on the final episode, she left the last word to former MCS employee, Jonathan Smith, to describe in film some of the changes we’re witnessing in our seas.

Dr Ben Garrod, biologist and presenter of various BBC programmes, is a massive fan of the series, and an MCS Ocean Ambassador, too. He told of his love for the sea, and how it has had an enormous and formative impact on his life as a scientist, from childhood days spent investigating assorted carcasses washed up on East Anglian seashores, to sharing moments with family in special times.

Awards 2017Michelle Duddy presented with her MCS award by Ben Garrod; Bradley Olde, Fundraiser of the Year Award winner with Hamish Torrie of Glenmorangie

Each year MCS recognises outstanding individuals who support marine conservation and/or the Marine Conservation Society in voluntary, public or pioneering scientific work. Michelle (or “Shell”) Duddy deservedly took the MCS Award this year. She has cleaned beaches, monitored seals, talked to media, attended events amongst many other things, and even hosts a bag for recycling beach litter outside her own house.

More inspiration came from Bradley Olde, awarded fundraiser of the year after completing the Kayak Challenge with us last year. Bradley had only recently suffered a life-threating cardiac arrest, needing lengthy medical attention, but he kayaked to raise a figure of £1,447 for MCS.

A brief rundown of the massive achievements of the year past, and a look to the future for MCS was presented by Chief Executive, Sandy Luk. She identified the challenges and opportunities ahead in fighting for clean beaches, more sustainable seafood, and protection for wildlife, especially while Brexit plays out.

Talks and whisky A truly spectacular evening was rounded off by several generous tastes of Scottish whisky in the company of Hamish Torrie, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at The Glenmorangie Company. As well as enhancing the nature of the Dornoch Firth, and hosting an MCS information officer to raise awareness of the marine environment there, Glenmorangie sponsored this celebration of our blue planet for good measure.

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