I’m not long back from a scouting trip wildlife filming South Africa. Something very different to our usual filming locations underwater. This project is definitely land based! An exciting and very different adventure for us. A scouting trip to South Africa’s game reserves in connection with a new film project.

Wildlife filming Kruger

Three headed giraffe!

South African Game Reserves

I’d visited South Africa before, but that trip had been for underwater filming. So I’d never visited the game reserves. But even though I knew their reputation, I was blown away with the incredible diversity and volume of wild creatures.


A comfy perch


It’s hard to choose a favourite creature. But there’s something about warthogs that I love…


I love warthogs

Big cats

Wasn’t lucky enough to see lions – so definitely got to head back for that experience. but a few good leopard sightings.


Lurking leopard

Animals with attitude!

As well as the usual favourites, some of the less popular creatures also grabbed my attention.

Fantastic bird life

There was so much to see that I rarely managed to find time for filming birds. That was a big mistake – again something for the return visit!

Storks perching

One of my favourite shots, silhouetted against the African sky.


Wild dogs

While on the very last morning, just after dawn as I was leaving the park, I met this pack strutting as if they owned the whole Kruger!

Pack of wild dogs

Wild dogs with attitude!

Most incredible encounter?

Out of all my wildlife filming South Africa so far? It has to be an early morning at a waterhole. Ten sleeping rhino, all horns intact. Three hippos in the water right alongside them. And a herd of elephant on the far side of the waterhole. WOW!!!

Wildlife documentary filming

Rhino in Swaziland

From big creatures to small…

Who can’t love the humble dung beetle?

Wildlife filming

Dung beetles are just so cool!

And the elephants

Just so many incredible elephant encounters.

Three elephants


I’ve travelled to many places, but this South African wildlife filming experience ranks among the best.

Leatherback Turtles – Final shoot of the documentary

And this is the very last location and the last adventure of our latest documentary project – Filming Leatherback Turtles in Gabon. Check our previous blogs for our trips to Guinea Bissau and Costa Rica

Tagging a leatherback

Tagging a leatherback

Planet’s greatest turtles

Leatherback turtles are the giants of the turtle world. The biggest ever recorded was nearly 3 metres long and weighed in at just under 1000 kilos. That’s almost the same weight as a Nissan Micra! Some turtle…

These leviathans are known to cross oceans in search of food. They exist on a diet of jellyfish. Tagged leatherbacks have crossed the Pacific from Japan to California.

Leatherbacks are also the champion divers of the turtle world – they can dive for as long as one hour to depths of as much as 1000 m!

But when it’s time to lay their eggs powerful primaeval forces drive them back to the beaches where they themselves hatched.

Fionn selfie with leatherback

Fionn selfie with leatherback

Gabon hosts the biggest nesting population of leatherback turtles in the world.  Almost all leatherbacks in the south Atlantic will have hatched on these beaches. So that is where Fionn headed along with Dr. Brendan Godley , one of the planet’s leading experts in turtles.

Brendan is based on Exeter University‘s Penryn Campus, just down the road from our studio, and is the scientific adviser for our documentary.

Dangerous beaches…

The shoot was – interesting… Because the beaches where the turtles nest backs onto deep jungle, and the turtles share the beach with buffaloes, forest elephants, and even a pair of hippos with a calf. Not really the place to be wandering at night! And yet that is what the crew had to do, as that is when the turtle action takes place!

It may look docile here, but when this buffalo charged the team scattered very quickly!

With filming now complete, lock down couldn’t have come at a better time for us. We are now deep into the edit and hope to have something to show you very soon…

Much appreciation to Dan Marsh for the original concept for this film. Dan didn’t get to come along on any of the filming trips with us but I hope we will get to work with him in the future…

Wildlife Filming…

Wildlife Filming is never predictable. They said we’d never get the shots! They said that it took the BBC a year to get their footage. We allowed ourselves a window of 10 days and didn’t really hold out any hope. But on the very first day the turtles started arriving… We had an ARRIBADA!!!

Arribada from the air...

Arribada from the air…

No drone filming…

We could not fly our drone on the beach. It’s too close to the local airfield. And as we were working under a permit and receiving great help from Yeimy the reserve administrator we didn’t break the rules. But I just saw this image on FB and had to share it.

And yes, these are all turtles. Olive Ridley turtles to be precise – on a beach on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

The Arribada

Their arrival is totally unpredictable. Scientists still can’t fully explain it. It doesn’t seem to be linked to the tides nor to any specific phase of the moon. Sometimes there are tens of thousands of turtles. Sometimes as many as half a million come ashore during the 3 or 4 days that the wildlife phenomenon lasts. Then as quickly as they arrived the turtles all disappear and the beach is empty, save for a few scavenging vultures.

Two Olive Ridley Turtles

Two Olive Ridley Turtles

And this was a big arribada. Fishermen had been reporting increasingly large numbers of turtles offshore. But while arribadas usually take place between dusk and dawn, this was such a big one that the turtles started coming ashore at midday. Maybe the overcast skies encouraged them into thinking evening was coming early.

Our contact in Costa Rica was Vanessa Bezy   A scientist who has studied the turtles for many years, Vanessa had suggested that our best chances were in late September / early October. But when she called us on the morning it we arrived to tell us the arribada was starting, it was the best we could have dreamt of. Our room at the Ostional Turtle Lodge  was just five minutes from the beach, so five minutes later we were there. Capturing some awesome footage for our upcoming documentary

Sunset on turtle beach...

Sunset on turtle beach…

Filming turtles on Poilão Island

Fionn and I have just got back from filming turtles in Guinea Bissau. It’s probably the remotest place I’ve ever been – Poilau Island, way out in the Atlantic – 2 days on small open boats – it doesn’t even feature on a Google search. Here’s a photo.
Poilau Island

Poilau Island

Turtle Island…

Totally uninhabited – and it’s a sacred island so we weren’t allowed anywhere but the beach. You can walk round it in 30 minutes. No water, a tiny generator for us to charge our cameras. They didn’t even have a radio to contact the mainland should anything go wrong.

We accompanied 2 scientists and 2 local rangers and slept in tents on the beach. The rangers caught fish every day for us to eat with rice. It’s so far out into the Atlantic we didn’t see another boat large or small all week. But every night 1000+ green turtles come ashore to nest. Awesome. They grow up to around 160kg so they are huge. This shot is of a turtle laying its eggs in the nest it has excavated

Turtle laying eggs

Turtle laying eggs

And this shot of a turtle heading back into the sea shows how many turtles have left their tracks in the sand overnight

Guinea Bissau

And Guinea Bissau is interesting – one of the world’s poorest countries and according to the US State Department a no go area and a narco state. Despite those State Department warnings we found the people very friendly and the country intriguing.
So we are going back there soon to film the nests that we saw being laid now hatching. And we also plan to film salt water hippos on another island – the only salt water ones in the world.
Plus more destinations, more species of turtles, and more fascinating science.
This promises to be a great documentary
Pilot Whales Cornwall

Pilot Whales – a surprise encounter

On a flat calm day this summer we encountered something very unexpected and amazing. Just ten miles south of Salcombe we encountered a pod of Pilot Whales.

Here’s a little edit. Take a look!


A perfect day…

The conditions were absolutely perfect. Glassy sea and no other boats in sight, just us. It was surreal.

 It was a huge pod. Wherever we looked there were fins and whales breaking surface. It’s hard to know why they were here. Their principal diet is squid, although they also eat cuttlefish, herring and other small fish when squid is unavailable. Maybe they had chanced on a shoal of herring, which are becoming increasingly common again off our south west coast.


 It was so unexpected, we weren’t ready for it, didn’t have filming equipment set up or anything. However the whales didn’t seem in a hurry to leave us. We got the equipment set up in record time, filming from the boat and the air with the Inspire drone. You can’t miss an opportunity like this.

pilot whales fins

We spent about half an hour with them, trying to make the most of the moment and since we were not in a rush to get back anyway. The whales also had their young with them. Overall, It was a magical encounter which we would be incredibly lucky to ever experience again!

a pod of pilot whales

And then another surprise encounter…

After finally leaving the whales and continuing on towards Falmouth, something caught my eye disturbing the flat calm sea. Surely it couldn’t be…? Throttling back on Cecienne we were just in time to watch a huge leatherback turtle slowly submerging. You can occasionally see leatherbacks in the Irish Sea in the summer, feeding on jellyfish that swarm there each year. The water around us was full of jellyfish, so obviously this one had made a slight detour up Channel as it grazed on the swarm.

What a day!

John Boyle Filming Islands in a Desert Sea

Exclusive screening of ‘Islands in a Desert Sea’. Join our very own John Boyle for an exciting talk and film night all about his exploits underwater.

Cuba Crocodile Underwater

You can watch the entry below. We hope you enjoy it!

We are very pleased that our short film – ‘The Crocodile and The Hutia’ recently won a special award in the Belgrade 20th International Underwater Film Festival. The short was edited from a sequence taken from our documentary ‘Castro’s Secret Reef’.

Deep in the mangroves of the reef system known as Jardinas de la Reina or Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen. An ancient reptile, the Crocodile, is on the hunt for it’s next meal. Does the Hutia have the guile to outwit the Crocodile in this 5 minute short.

For more of our videos visit our VIMEO page:



Blue Whale from air

We are currently working on our latest film, this is a little taste of what is to come.

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The Seas Strangest Square Mile is fast approaching 500,000 plays. If you haven’t seen it yet…press play!

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