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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Comments

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  • rate this
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    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.
    Cheers
    Mark

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    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.

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    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.
    Thanks
    Gareth

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    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!

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    Comment number 5.

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

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    Comment number 6.

    Fantastic, I love diving in the UK waters and it is great to see a program dedicated to the UK, Paul and his team Tooni and Frank have done a fantastic job along with the crew with producing this program and good to see some old faces from the Oceans program, excellent Baskin shark footage and the Crabs were massive well done Paul & Tooni for the footage Look forward to future episodes :-)

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    Comment number 7.

    What a Stunning programme. Paul has come up with a film that portrays UK diving as it should be seen. For too long we have had to suffer programmes on diving, made by idiots whose sole intention was to scare the public into thinking that diving was dangerous. Every other diving programme maker should use this film as the benchmark in portraying the UK as it should be seen - The best diving in the world!
    Look forward to seeing the rest of the Series - Well done Paul Rose...........

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    Comment number 8.

    Congratulations to the whole team on an inspiring first episode. I am looking forward eagerly to next Sunday. In my opinion the UK offers an unrivalled variety of diving and a good infrastructure to help in enjoying the experience. I hope your programme helps promote a much wider awareness of the need to look after our seas amongst divers and the general population.

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    Comment number 9.

    Loved the first episode, absolutely captivating. I've not dived for a long time and my last dive was near Oben and can remember thinking how awesome the experience was, so now can't wait to get back to it and hopefully it will inspire the children to try it too. Great show can't wait for next week.

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    Comment number 10.

    fantastic first show paul, congratulations to you and the team. im sure the series will be a great success. well done

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    Comment number 11.

    Many thanks for watching last night and for these comments :-) The Giants of the West was a perfect way to start the series; Snorkelling with the basking sharks and diving the Torrey Canyon were real personal highlights. I'll be active on this blog except for the next 9 days as I will be back in Greenland to lead another mountaineering expedition. It feels a bit odd to have to miss next week's episode! Thank you again for these comments - keep 'em coming! Paul Rose.

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    Comment number 12.

    Hi Paul
    Great first show well done to you and the whole team, we saw some of the cutting room floor stuff when down at The Big Scuba Show but the real stuff blows that away.
    Think this is a great way to introduce people to what riches we have on our own door step who needs to go off to Egypt when we have such diversity around our own shores.
    Really looking forward to the next episodes, hope this can be the start of a cult series along the lines of Coast.
    Well done BBC for committing to this series.... but lets have more of it :)

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    Comment number 13.

    Hello - as a ten year old with a passion for aeroplanes, I remember seeing the bombing of the Torrey Canyon on the news in 1967. I'm fairly sure I remember the bombing was carried out by Buccaneer aircraft, which were operated only by the Royal Navy at the time, although the programme credited the bombing to the RAF. The Navy got rid of its Buccaneers to the RAF in the 70s when it got rid of the big aircraft carriers. I know this is a pedantic point but it is a strong childhood memory. Does anybody know if I am right?

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    Comment number 14.

    Hello Nigel; Yes, it was Buccaneer aircraft and I think others too. I'm on a flight to Iceland at the moment. I'll check the other aircraft involved in the Torrey Canyon bombing when I return in nine days. Many thanks for your enquiry and for watching the show. Paul.

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    Comment number 15.

    Good programme but our shores bathed by the North Atlantic Drift not the Gulf Stream. How can an obviously knowledgeable person such as Paul Rose get this basic fact incorrect?

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    Comment number 16.

    Hello Paul, Just another fact that you got very wrong. It was not as you claim, thousands of bombs dropped on the Torrey Canyon, but just 42. I suggest that you change your researcher.

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    Comment number 17.

    Excellent stuff. Really enjoyed both programmes so far. Nice to see the team behind the cameras as well, as normally on nature programmes you don't see much about the people behind it all, bar the main presenter.

    Is there any chance of this coming out on Bluray? A DVD would be nice (missing next week as diving at St Abbs), but bluray would do all the excellent photography justice.

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    Comment number 18.

    Hello Ben and Marty; Many thanks for watching the show and for your helpful comments. I'm fresh back from Greenland so I can at last reply;

    Ben; Yes - you are right of course. I speak about the North Atlantic Drift in regard to diving and indeed am very aware of it when I sail. But I think we agreed saying Gulf Stream as it's the overall power of the Gulf Stream that drives the warm waters to the UK and of course the branch that hits us is the North Atlantic Drift. Your point is very well taken by me though - it's worth getting these things correct! Paul.

    Marty; Yes - 42 bombs it was. I should have said "thousand of pounds of bombs" but must have got over-enthusiastic as it was a dive I had always wanted to make. I'm heading back out there again later this year. Many thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow! Paul.

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    Comment number 19.

    Super duper viewing... again - it's great for divers, those considering taking up diving or those just curious about "what's down there".

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    Comment number 20.

    Paul - A truly inspirational program, presented by some truly inspirational people. A great way to spread the word about how amazing our island is, and the seas that surround us! Keep up the good work - really impressed !

 

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