Talking with Beluga Whales educational film to be released in December

Talking with Beluga Whales educational film to be released in December

8 August 2014

A film crew led by biologist and TV presenter Ivan Zatevakhin is wrapping up its shooting of a film on Solovetsky Islands that is paid for by the Russian Geographical Society. Over just a few weeks, the crew shot Talking with Beluga Whales, a film about one of the world’s most intellectually advanced animals.


The educational film from the Extreme Biology series will focus on the unique polar dolphins, their life and behavior, as well as ways to protect them and the researchers specialising in cetaceans, who study belugas in the field, and sometimes under extreme circumstances.


“The researchers learned that belugas have a highly developed intellect,” project producer Sergei Serebryany said. “Our film focuses on a recent discovery of a group of Russian researchers led by Vsevolod Belkovich, a renowned professor and the founder of the Russian academic school for studying free-roaming dolphins. Alexander Agafonov, the author of the discovery and an expert in animal psychology and psycholinguistics, has served as a scientific consultant and is working with us on location. One thing that I’m willing to reveal about the film is that the discovery discussed in the film has to do with how the mammals communicate with each other.”


The Talking with Beluga Whales project has a vital scientific component, which is the study of the functional characteristics of the spatiotemporal and intragroup structure of the White Sea beluga populations and the specific acoustic signals used by polar dolphins.


The project will help humans to better understand their behavior. The film will cover the nature of the Russian Arctic and, in particular, White Sea belugas, as well as the fieldwork performed by young researchers under Mr. Belkovich’s lead.


According to Mr Serebryany, unlike bottlenose dolphins, which are not shy of humans and cameras, belugas are wary animals and swim away as soon as they spot humans. Therefore, the cameramen had to stay underwater for up to four hours to give them time to get used to them and relax.


“The crew made a fantastic film,” the producer said. “I’m sure that this film will be of interest to a wide range of audiences from schoolchildren to researchers.”


The filming of Talking with Beluga Whales on Solovetsky Islands will end in a week’s time. But several more months will be needed to bring the footage up to standard, transcribe interviews with researchers, and edit and post-synchronise the film.


The new 60-minute film from the Extreme Biology series will be released in mid-December.