Oceans Arctic Expedition June 2008 BBC2

Uncovering the secrets of our oceans

Uncovering the secrets of our oceans ©BBC

About the expedition

A team of divers, scientists and film-makers aboard a Norwegian research vessel explored the fjords, sea ice and open waters near Svalbard for the Oceans series on BBC Two. You can find out more about their adventures on the Oceans series website but watch and read about their journey of discovery in the Arctic here.

The mission

The Oceans team went to the Arctic to find and film surprising wildlife and natural phenomena. By monitoring sea ice and animals from huge walruses to tiny plankton, they attempted to get a snapshot of the health of some polar ecosystems and a hint of where the environment worldwide could yet end up.

On land, there's more history than you might at first imagine – Svalbard's role in Arctic exploration as well as its long-gone whaling industry.

The team

Oceans presenters L-R: Philippe Cousteau, Paul Rose ©BBC/Ian Kellett

The 18-strong production team included world-class divers with many thousands of dives in their log books. Team leader, Paul Rose, was a base commander for the British Antarctic Survey. Expertise was on hand from marine biologist Tooni Mahto, maritime archaeologist Dr Lucy Blue and environmentalist Philippe Cousteau. They were able to call on the local knowledge of the crew who operated the ice breaking dive ship, the R/V Lance.

The location

Svalbard is a group of islands in the Norwegian Arctic Ocean, at 74–81°N. Roughly 2,300 people – and about the same number of polar bears – live there. In summer, the sun never sets although the air temperature averages at best just 6°C.

Sail north from Svalbard and you're soon among icebergs and then the sea ice that permanently covers the North Pole. Visit the Oceans series website to view an interactive 360° panorama which includes videos and images of the crew filming on the pack ice at 80° north.

Expedition reports

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