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The University of Southampton

Blue Planet II expert commentary

As world leaders in research and education, we seek to understand how the ocean fits within the dynamic Earth system.

The first series of the BBC's Blue Planet, 16 years ago, inspired a generation of students to take up marine and ocean science. It is our hope that a new generation will be inspired by Blue Planet II.

Here is what some of our academics have to say about the new series.

Professor Rachel Mills
Professor Rachel Mills

Professor Rachel Mills, Dean of Environmental and Life Sciences (Chemistry of Oceans)

“Blue Planet vividly demonstrated the enormity of the deep ocean, the vast areas of unknown, the extreme conditions out there and the extraordinary inhabitants.  It is extraordinarily difficult to light the pitch black depths and the footage shown was the best I’ve seen.  However good the video footage, nothing can recreate the experience of peering through the small acrylic plastic porthole of the deep diving submersible.  One of the most exciting things I have ever done is to dive to the deep sea floor in the US submersible Alvin and the Russian Mir submersibles to study the hot hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. 

Watching the episode I was reminded of the extreme cold of the deep sea (woolly hats are essential for a long deep dive), the cramped conditions of the submersible, the intimacy of spending long hours inside a small sphere, and the wondrous sights of deep sea hot vents.  Very few of us will ever get to explore the depths in this way and we share these experiences through our teaching, our engagement with people from around the globe in many different ways and through series like Blue Planet II.” 

Dr Jon Copley
Dr Jon Copley

Dr Jon Copley, Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration & Public Engagement

"Blue Planet II immerses us in the wonder of the ocean more than ever before.  The previous Blue Planet inspired many students to study marine biology, so it's been great to contribute to this series, and I hope that it will move us to think deep for our future."


Dr Maria Baker
Dr Maria Baker

Dr Maria Baker BSc, PhD. Senior Research Fellow, International Project Coordinator

"Over the past few decades, new technology has enabled so many more of us to glimpse into the dark world beneath the waves - the largest ecosystem on our planet - usually out of sight and out of mind for most.  My hope is that these incredible images and stories will inspire humankind, igniting curiosity and also consideration of the critical functions and services this huge realm provides.  We must carefully manage and protect this environment as a global community for the benefit of future generations".

Professor Joerg Wiedenmann
Professor Joerg Wiedenmann

Professor Joerg Wiedenmann, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory

"The coral reef episode was wonderfully photographed, showing the reefs in all their fragile beauty. The imagery taken before and after episodes of coral bleaching showed impressively the devastating effects of this phenomenon on reefs. This relates directly to our research at the Coral Reef Laboratory at the University of Southampton, where we establish how other environmental factors such as nutrients in the water column mitigate or aggravate heat stress driven coral bleaching. We share the latest findings of our research also with students in our new 3rd year module 'Understanding Coral Reefs'.

The students of the Marine Conservation Society of the University of Southampton had organised a screening in the lecture hall which made watching a spectacular experience. The opportunity brought together a large number of students with interest in the subject and we had inspiring discussions about the functioning of coral reefs and opportunities to protect them for the future."

Return to Southampton University's main Blue Planet page to find out more about our involvement in the series and how you can learn more about the wonders of the ocean.

Or why not explore the undergraduate and postgraduate marine science degrees we offer.

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