OUR PLANET FEATURES FOOTAGE FROM NANSEN WEBER
June 16, 2019 | Northwest Passage
In 2017 Nansen Weber and a group of cinematographers traveled to Lancaster Sound to capture footage of narwhals for the upcoming Netflix series Our Planet. A mystical creature often referred to as the unicorn of the sea, male narwhals often sport a single ‘tusk’ (actually a tooth) which can grow up to three meters in length. These unique mammals are found exclusively in Arctic waters and recent estimates suggest their population to be only 170,000 individuals.
Like the belugas and bowhead whales, the narwhal spends its winters in the open waters of Baffin Bay. Stretching from the west coast of Greenland to the east coast of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, a large polynya (year-round open water) provides crucial habitat for the Arctic’s large mammals through the harsh winter months. Come springtime the whales will begin migrating and can be found swimming along large cracks in the ice which allow ease of travel to their summering areas.
The group of cinematographers spent three weeks on the sea ice of Lancaster sound awaiting ‘breakup’, a term used to describe the process of large cracks forming in the sea ice and eventually drifting apart in large pans of ice. Also known as leads, these cracks in the sea ice provided the perfect opportunity to capture narwhal on film as they travel gracefully through the otherwise frozen landscape. After many cold and uneventful days, the group’s patience paid off when the whales finally appeared in the large fissure which had formed fifteen kilometers from the camp.
Rarely filmed underwater, Our Planet beautifully captures the mystique and allure of these remarkable sea creatures. Catch the full eight-part series on Netflix or watch the narwhal segment below!
Our exclusive twelve-day Ultimate Arctic expedition is perfectly timed to coincide with numerous migrations across the Arctic including Narwhal as they begin their return journey to Baffin Bay. Learn more about the vision behind Ultimate Arctic here.