In honor of Earth Day last Thursday, National Geographic and Disney released a new documentary on Disney Plus called “Secrets of the Whales.” The documentary is a four-part series narrated by Sigourney Weaver and directed by Brian Armstrong with James Cameron as an executive producer. Each part focuses on a different whale species, including orcas, humpback whales, beluga whales and sperm whales. Throughout each part, photographer and National Geographic explorer Brian Skerry aims to get a special look at each of these whale species.
The first episode of the documentary series opens with Weaver saying “whales are the world’s most intelligent giants… but they’re still a mystery. Only now are we beginning to understand their secrets.” The rest of the series then looks to uncover as many secrets as possible about these majestic animals. The series especially focuses on the culture that each of these whale species has and the impact their locations around the world have on their behavior.
In episode one, the series focuses on orca whales, more commonly known as killer whales. The documentary talks about the importance of family and the culture surrounding the whales and their families in different parts of the world. Furthermore, the episode talks about the different hunting and feeding styles of orca families around the world.
This episode also does a good job of depicting that these whales are actually completely harmless to humans in the wild and that we should not be afraid of them despite their “scary” nicknames. At one point in the segment, the whale even offered a stingray it caught to one of the divers, mistaking it as a potentially lost orca.
The second episode of the series focuses on beluga whales and much like the first episode, it talks about the importance of family to the whales. The episode also puts a heavy focus on how the animals are always happy and playful, even with humans. It also talks about the different hunting and feeding styles of these whales around the world while addressing some of the dangers they face.
In the third episode, humpback whales are highlighted, one of the most commonly known whale species. This episode also talks about the importance of culture and family to the whales and references their use of whale songs in communicating. While all four episodes explain the methods of communicating for these whale species, this episode puts an emphasis on the humpbacks’ use of whale songs. It even claims that some humpback whale songs are able to be heard 1/5 the way around the world.
The final episode of this series called “Ocean Giants” talks about sperm whales. The episode focuses on a family of sperm whales located in Dominica and a family located in Sri Lanka, and the differences and similarities in how two families hunt and feed. Similar to earlier parts of the series, it talks about the importance of family and culture. However, this part looks into why, unlike the other species, sperm whales will sometimes gather in groups much larger than any other species of whale.
There are some incredible moments, footage and photos captured throughout the entire documentary and it will teach you so much about the secrets these magnificent creatures have.