Skip to main content

Big Blue Live's Liz Bonnin: 'I'm a bit envious of Steve Backshall diving with Great White sharks!'

(Image credit: BBC/Lee Strickland)

Liz Bonnin will be joining Matt Baker, Steve Backshall and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in Monterey Bay, California, as the BBC nature team follow a unique wildlife event that takes place there every August in a special live series, Big Blue Live (opens in new tab), next week.

We caught up with her to find out more…

What can you tell us about the series?

"For a couple of weeks every August hundreds of species of marine life, including blue whales, sea lions and sharks, come to Monterey Bay to feed. They travel hundreds of miles to get there because specific conditions at this time of year mean there’s lots of plankton, which in turn causes a feeding surge all through the food chain. It’s a unique event and we want to catch as much of it as possible on camera. "

Which animal are you most looking forward to seeing?

" I’m joining a team of scientists who are tagging a blue whale and I’m beside myself with excitement. To be so close to the largest animal that’s ever been on this planet is quite something, so I can’t wait. "

Wow that does sound amazing. How do you tag a blue whale?

" We’re just using a pole and a suction cup – would you believe – you have to get close to these extraordinary animals in order to extend the pole and then attach the camera. We’re attaching a camera on to these particular blue whales to see how they avoid the big ships. It’s actually one of the busiest shipping lanes that these blue whales have to cross in order to get to the food in Monterey Bay so we’d like to find out how they do it! "

Let’s hope your whale doesn’t hit any ships!

" You can’t help but have a vested interest when you see what the whale you’re studying will be going through over the few weeks we’re tracking it. I’m sure there will be some sort of drama when it does approach the big ships! "

Will you be getting in the water with any of the animals?

" No but Steve Backshall is! He’ll be diving with great white sharks! I am a bit envious, but I’m also happy to let him go for it! "

What else will you be looking at over the course of the week?

" We’ll also be celebrating the fact that so many animals are recovering after being hunted to the edge of extinction over the last century. A lot of them are still on the endangered list. But most of them became extinct in Monterey Bay. Sea otters were hunted to extinction in the 30s and then we turned to whales and they disappeared from the bay and then squid and sardines and so on. We basically decimated the entire ecosystem. "

But the marine life is recovering now?

" It’s a wonderful story of success, but also a harrowing reminder of what we can do and a celebration of how resilient nature can be. "

Big Blue Live begins on Sunday, August 23 at 7pm on BBC1


Sean Marland
Sean Marland

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.