Oceans Arctic Expedition June 2008 BBC2

Save the whales for later

Today's report: Crew member airlift | High speed whale search

Crew member airlift

Producer Daniel Barry picks up the story as a Lance crewman is flown off by helicopter for health checks just when the ice whales are spotted. Once medical needs are no longer dominating the expedition's schedule, Lucy and Philippe are quickly back on the trail of elusive white belugas.

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High speed whale search

Paul Rose

Paul Rose describes a dramatic day

Today has been overcast, but thankfully the cloud is like a warm blanket. We're 79°9' north, 11°44' east and it's been an eventful day here on the boat.

We've had our crew out on beluga whale watch. These ice whales are not easy to find and we don't have the luxury of time here, we're on a tight schedule.

Emergency helicopter arriving at the Lance

So when one of our crew spotted them from his small patrol boat, well, we thought, "This is it!". However at the same time we had a worrying development going on at the other end of the boat. A member of the boat crew was experiencing health problems.

You don't mess about with something like that. We immediately alerted the emergency medical service, the expedition went on hold, belugas had to wait and we all stood by and watched as the helicopter landed on the boat's helipad and whisked the crewman away.

Inflatable patrol boat following beluga whales

As soon as the helicopter had left the boat, it was back to the whales. All the small boats got in the water and they were off. We had trouble keeping up with them in the main boat, but we made up the ground and the news was good. Our dive with belugas was going to be possible. An amazing and rare chance to study and film one of the Arctic's most beautiful species.

Expedition reports

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