Why I want to share Britain's Secret Seas with you

Friday 6 May 2011, 11:06

Paul Rose Paul Rose Co-Presenter

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There's no denying it, most people really don't know how fabulous our seas are.

We tend to celebrate the coast and our great maritime history and yet we often overlook what's just under the surface in our coastal waters.

As a diver for over 40 years, you can imagine that Britain's Secret Seas feels like the ultimate way for me to share my love of British underwater adventures.

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My big hope was that we could make a great programme that revealed the true wonder of Britain's seas and make it look easy and attractive to explore.

I kept thinking about a family of non-divers watching, and hoping that our programme might inspire them to give it a try.

I would love to see that family experience basking sharks like we did.

We snorkelled with a shiver of about 12 huge basking sharks only 100 metres or so from the beach at Porthcurno in Cornwall.

They are shy of noise. Bubbles from scuba diving equipment or jumping in from the boat sends them away, so the snorkelling approach works well.

We found that if you just float motionless at the surface they come very close indeed.

It's exciting. Even though we know that basking sharks are not predatory there is something gripping about a 10-metre-long shark swimming towards you with that massive open mouth. How about that as part of a family day at the seaside?

There are four one-hour episodes from Britain's north, south, east and west, with each episode having a core theme.

My co-presenters Frank Pope, Tooni Mahto and I dived in whichever combination made the most sense for each particular story.

Frank was leading the history and ocean ecosystems stories, Tooni was leading the marine science, with me being the lead diver, presenter and expedition leader.

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But it's not just about diving. Being underwater is a great setting in which to bring important stories to life.

In this series, we talk about ecosystem's services by diving on the fluorescing sea squirts off the coast of St Abbs in Berwickshire that provide the protein for tracking cancer cells.

In the Wild North episode I report on some of our military activities by diving with the Royal Navy clearance divers to explode 1,000lb bombs.

And the Bustling South and the Giants Of The West episodes reveal exciting history and conservation stories when we dive some of our important shipwrecks.

Britain's Secret Seas is the realisation of a dream for me.

I remember the early 1960s when my life's heroes were in their prime - Hans Hass was using military diving gear to film his fabulous shark documentaries.

Jacques Cousteau had co-invented scuba diving, written The Silent World, and was exploring the world's seas on the ultimate diving expedition on Calypso.

And my big hero at the time, Mike Nelson, was up to his neck in Sea Hunt adventures.

Beautiful women were hiring Mike for diving lessons and at the end of each programme I would swear that he was talking directly to me with his words on diving safety.

I had just failed my 11-plus, hated school, loved the sea and knew nothing. Except that I wanted to be a diver.

Paul Rose is the co-presenter of Britain's Secret Seas.

Britain's Secret Seas is on BBC Two and BBC HD at 8pm on Sunday, 8 May.

You can read more from Paul about a dolphin autopsy he carried out on BBC News online.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Hi Paul
    Great to see your UK marine programme - I dive - and snorkel off the beach - in West Sussex and people are always surprised at the clips of the waters - they tend to imagine its a dirty wasteland down there and I think this leads to an uncaring attitude. Amazing shots and great idea for a series - brilliant! Keep up the pressure for the marine parks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Hey Paul
    What a fabulous programme. I had no idea the UK shores were full of such interesting things - like huge sharks (although my husband did!!!) Presentation was brilliant - similar to Oceans I thought. Loved the bit about the container ships - again had no idea how complex that was. Brilliant show - cant wait for next weeks.
    Love Edwina A.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    A fantastic first episode, we can't wait to see the rest of them. You are exactly right about the ignorance about marine life in British waters. Most people who visit our diving club initially think there is nothing to see when diving in the UK. It is great to see their reaction and surprise when they do their first UK Sea dives, and talk about all the different fish and critters they've seen. Well done to you, your team and the BBC for making a programme that showcases our marine environment, because as the program pointed out, they are fragile and desperately need protection. The more media coverage the UK marine environment gets, the better in my opinon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Hi Paul,

    Great show, well done. Only problem is that us existing UK divers are going to have to share all these secrets now you've let the cat out of the bag. ...darn! No, plenty of room for all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Great show. Just what we want to see from UK diving!


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