THIRTEEN’s Nature Goes Underwater and Undercover on Dolphins: Spy in the Pod
Wednesdays, May 3 & 10, 2017 at 8 p.m. on PBS
The two-part program is produced by the same team behind “Spy in the Wild”
They’re back! Those remote-controlled robotic cameras return to infiltrate the world of dolphins around the globe and capture behavior that has never been filmed before. This time, the Spy Creatures go underwater. Thirteen animatronic spy cameras were designed to do the job including Spy Dolphin, Spy Turtle, Spy Squid, Spy Nautilus, Spy Baby Dolphin, Spy Tuna, Spy Ray, and Spy Puffer. Their eyes are state-of-the-art cameras. (In the case of Spy Tuna, the camera is its mouth.)
In addition to this surveillance team, a real bottlenose dolphin is used in Caribbean waters as a “double agent.” This tame dolphin, carrying tiny cameras on its back and sides, has free rein to explore the ocean and return when he’s ready with a recording of his adventures.
Dolphins: Spy in the Pod takes an in-depth look into the secret lives of a variety of dolphins as the specially designed “spycams” often interact and engage the curiosity of their subjects and film examples of their intelligence, communication, and relationships. The two-part program airs Wednesdays, May 3 & 10, 2017 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings) and streams at pbs.org/nature.
In the first episode, the most widespread and best-known dolphin, the bottlenose, is introduced. Females and males live in separate pods and are free to come and go, but there’s usually a core group that may be friends for life. A female stays close to her calf for two years teaching it valuable lessons like following stingrays to locate fish buried in sand and learning how to scan large kingfish with their sonar one by one to find the weakest and slowest ones. Spy Squid even discovers that dolphins rub against coral heads to help shed off old skin and replace their outer layer once every three hours.
Spy Dolphin documents the inventive fishing techniques of the bottlenose in the shallow waters of the Florida Keys. Working together, one member gets ahead of a mullet shoal and beats its tail to stir up plumes of mud from which the mullet try to escape but end up leaping into the mouths of waiting dolphins. Meanwhile, Spy Tuna follows spinner dolphins to show how they perform their unusual corkscrew leaps, stream bubbles from their blowholes as they whistle out their names, and combine with other superpods to form an incredible megapod made up of over 3,000 dolphins.
In episode two, the different hunting targets of the orca, the world’s largest dolphin, are shown: one pod pursues only fish, while another specializes in catching dolphins and seals. The film reveals that these pods never interact and even speak different orca dialects. Depending on the prey, orcas either employ shock and awe or switch to stealth mode in pursuit of a meal. However, Dall’s porpoises, the fastest dolphins in the ocean, rarely succumb to the orca as they reach speeds of over 35 miles per hour. Other topics explored by the “spycams” in the second hour include the dolphins’ initiation rites, strange rituals, unusual sleeping methods, and the use of a bouquet of seaweed as a proven courting technique. The series concludes with Spy Squid’s ultimate sacrifice made while valiantly filming its archenemy, the potato cod.
A one-hour version of this two-hour series aired on Discovery Channel in March 2015.
Nature is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Dolphin: Spy in the Pod is a John Downer Production for BBC and Discovery Channel.
Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.
Nature has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 17 Emmys and three Peabodys. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media.
PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.
Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, Sandra Atlas Bass, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the nation’s public television stations.
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