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New TV Series ’North Atlantic - The Dark Ocean’ Reveals Never-Before Filmed Behaviours of Iconic Marine Wildlife

13th May 2023
Irish underwater cameraman Ken O’Sullivan captured our marine life like never before in North Atlantic - The Dark Ocean
Irish underwater cameraman Ken O’Sullivan captured our marine life like never before in North Atlantic - The Dark Ocean Credit: Sea Fever Productions/RTÉ

North Atlantic – The Dark Ocean is a new TV series from Irish underwater cameraman Ken O’Sullivan that begins this Sunday 14 May at 6.30pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

Supported by the Marine Institute, this new natural history series follows O’Sullivan as he voyages off Ireland’s coast and out into the open North Atlantic in search of large whales, deep-water sharks and other iconic marine wildlife that inhabit our dark ocean — and reveals never-before-seen behaviours and challenges of some of our greatest wild animals.

Inspired by the spirit of adventure of early explorers such as St Brendan the Navigator, O’Sullivan journeys out into the open North Atlantic in search of the great sea monsters described in their early texts.

After more than 10 years, he finally swims with a fin whale and captures incredible footage that documents its individual patterns.

Using an unmanned submarine aboard the RV Celtic Explorer, O’Sullivan journeys to the deepest parts of Ireland’s Atlantic waters where he discovers thousands of cat sharks in a deep-water nursery. He also addresses the decimation of sharks in Ireland and across the globe.

North Atlantic - The Dark Ocean also deals with the concerning issue of the treatment of our oceans and its creatures. The series explores concerns such as toxicity in whales from human activity in the ocean and the decimation of fin whales due to whaling. The series emphasises how society must work harder to conserve these precious ecosystems.

In episode one, broadcast this Sunday 14 May, O’Sullivan explores the dark ocean waters to the north of Ireland. Here he encounters monstrous winter storms and discovers that these are a huge source of fertility in the ocean. He meets a group of minke whales lunge-feeding on shoals of sprat, and travels to Arctic Norway in search of massive herring shoals that once abounded in Ireland.

In episode two (Sunday 21 May), O’Sullivan travels the south coast of Ireland searching for fin whales. These hugely enigmatic creatures are the second largest animals to have ever lived, but almost nothing has been documented about their migration routes, especially for breeding, until now.

O’Sullivan voyages 1,500km out to the Mid-Atlantic ridge in search of more fin whales. Here he finds sea mounts, oases of life in the open ocean, and gains a deeper understanding of the ocean’s eco-system.

In the series finale (Sunday 28 May), O’Sullivan embraces the spirit of early explorers and gains an understanding of some of the ocean’s greatest and most diverse animals, from the surface waters to the deepest parts of the North Atlantic. He documents more than 30 basking sharks engaged in a courtship ritual – possibly the largest ever group of their kind captured on camera.

The series also features an original classical music soundtrack by young composer Bradley Ayres, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Speaking about the series, Ken O’Sullivan said: “Almost three years in production, North Atlantic – The Dark Ocean is a hugely ambitious natural history TV series featuring the iconic creatures and fascinating marine life of Ireland’s North Atlantic ocean.

“It would not have been possible without the support of many. We are particularly grateful to the Marine Institute for providing us with ship time and access to the RV Celtic Explorer and their remotely operated vehicle, the ROV Holland I, which enabled us to voyage further, explore deeper and share amazing discoveries in Ireland’s deep ocean.”

North Atlantic - The Dark Ocean starts this Sunday 14 May at 6.30pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player. Team

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