CSULB Shark Lab to be Featured on BBC and PBS Collaboration, Big Blue Live Tuesday Night


Photos of Dr. Chris Lowe and team courtesy of CSULB.

As if you needed another reason to admire the renowned work of the staff and students at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), it just so happens that Dr. Chris Lowe, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the CSULB Shark Lab, and his student research team will appear on “Big Blue Live," a three-day live multimedia event produced by BBC and PBS.

A BBC correspondent and camera crew followed the CSULB team for three days in mid-August as they tagged great white juvenile sharks off the Southern California coast. Earlier in April, Dr. Lowe informed the Post about the baby sharks appearing offshore during baby shark season.

The tracking was a full-court press, according to the university, which included the use of the Huntington Beach lifeguard helicopter and jet skis, as well as the Autonomous Underwater Robot (AUR), which has been developed through a collaboration between students at CSULB and Harvey Mudd College.

Watch live interviews with Dr. Lowe at the Monterey Bay Aquarium during the Tuesday night episode to air from 8:00PM to 9:00PM on local PBS stations. "Big Blue Live" will air for three nights. The first night was Monday, August 31; the last will be Wednesday, September 2. Lowe also appeared in the UK broadcast of the show, which aired earlier this month. All episodes can be watched live online or after the particular episode has aired.

This is a first-of-its-kind co-production between BBC and PBS. Scientists, filmmakers, photographers and other experts joined together for two weeks in late August to film some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures; not just sharks, but humpback whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, shearwaters, brown pelicans, blue whales and more, gathering at this time of year in Monterey Bay to feed on the abundance of food in these waters.

“The prospect of getting such privileged access to this ocean phenomenon and bringing it to viewers live on BBC One and PBS is exciting and humbling,” said Natalie Humphreys, BBC Controller, Factual and Daytime Production, in a statement. “We’ve gathered an extraordinary team, on and off screen, to take us deep into the lives of a host of animals, from sea otters to humpback whales, and we’re thrilled to be co-producing this event.”

According to the release, Monterey Bay’s unique underwater geography, with a deep ocean canyon close to shore, brings species by the thousands into the once-endangered, now-thriving, ecosystem of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California.

During both PBS feeds, viewers can watch one of nature’s great reality shows, delivered through state-of-the-art filming technologies and live reports from air, by boat and below the waves.

The event will be hosted by two anchors, with several on-air correspondents and additional leading scientists and experts providing insights during the program. Big Blue Live will be broadcast from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and from aboard Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary vessels, as well as from Monterey shoreline locations.

According to the announcement, in addition to the live portions of the programs, BBC and PBS crews have been filming video and b-roll footage over the course of the summer, which will be rolled into each broadcast to expand upon what is being seen live.


On-air anchors for the U.S. shows include Dr. M. Sanjayan, host of EARTH A New Wild, recently broadcast on PBS, who is senior scientist at Conservation International, and UK-based science broadcast journalist Liz Bonnin, known for BBC science programs BANG GOES THE THEORY and STARGAZING LIVE. Dr. Joy Reidenberg, a comparative anatomist and marine mammal expert, featured in PBS’s INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS and SEX IN THE WILD, will provide scientific insight into the anatomy of Monterey Bay marine life. On-air correspondents include Steve Backshall, best known for his work in the U.K. on BBC’s DEADLY 60.

Some of what audiences can expect to see include:

On Monday, August 31, Episode 1 followed migrating whales, sharks and various birds as they joined sea otters, sea lions and other species that live full-time in Monterey Bay. Reports from Monterey Aquarium and NOAA research vessels and get facts about humpback whale anatomy.

Dive into the hidden world of Monterey’s sea lions and hear about the bay’s rejuvenation through sea otters’ return in Episode 2 on Tuesday, September 1. Join a scientist (Dr. Lowe) who’s trying to help solve the mystery of shark migration and study the anatomy of white sharks and elephant seals.

In Episode 3 on Wednesday, September 2, follow the team on the water and in the sky as they search for the giant of the sea: the blue whale. Venture inside the whale with anchor Reidenberg and join Sanjayan on an incredible journey to get up close and personal with these giants of the deep.

“PBS and BBC continue to break new ground in science and nature programming on BIG BLUE LIVE,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS in a statement. “Through TV and other PBS digital platforms, viewers can experience and participate in the drama of the ultimate reality show as it unfolds in the natural world.”

“This is the story of an extraordinary gathering, at a unique place, at one special moment in time,” said James Honeyborne, Executive Producer, Natural History Unit, BBC, in a statement. “With Big Blue Live, we are going to explore, understand and celebrate this gathering, providing a real-time adventure above, on and beneath the waves. It’s a story to celebrate that will inspire viewers of all ages."


To follow the show online, visit the PBS website here, where a live streaming simulcast of each night's show will be available. You can also watch previously aired episodes. For more information regarding surrounding educational events for Big Blue Live click here. Follow the journey through social media using the tag #BigBlueLive.

Big Blue Live is the first of the new multi-title co-production deal, announced earlier this year, between PBS, BBC, and BBC Worldwide North America. The partnership provides a pipeline of the high-quality, entertaining factual programs that PBS and BBC audiences have come to expect.

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