Whale Sharks Movie Reviews Example
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I recently watched two documentaries on whale sharks. The first, “Ocean Wanderers: The Whale Sharks of Qatar” and “Whale Sharks” made by the BBC. The other, “Natural World Documentary: Whale Shark”. Both documentaries examine the behaviors of these beautiful and rare creatures. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the oceans but are also the most mysterious. Research on whale sharks, their behaviors and the impact of the environment on them has been scarce until recent years.
“Ocean Wanderers: The Whale Sharks of Qatar”
Whale sharks are drawn to the oil rigs of Qatar and the Ministry of the Environment is concerned but whale sharks are difficult to study therefore David Robinson and his team are consulted to research the presence and behaviors of these creatures.
Employees of the oil company, Maersk Oil, observed and photographed several whale sharks swimming and feeding around their oil rigs. The oil rigs are located off the coast of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. The Persian Gulf is connected to the Indian Ocean via the Gulf of Oman. The company contacted the Ministry of the Environment to report their observations. Mohammed Arjadah stepped in and contacted David Robinson and his team to come to Qatar and study these beautiful creatures.
Whale sharks are found in warm tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world (excepting the Mediterranean Sea). They are present year round in locations such as the waters off Taiwan, the Seychelles and Honduras. Other locations such as coastlines that surround the Indian Ocean, Australia to the coast of Africa report sightings of large groups of shark whales at various times throughout the year. These gatherings to feed off the coasts are referred to as “aggregate feedings”. There could be anywhere from a dozen whale sharks sighted to nearly one hundred (Norman”).
David Robinson and his team gathered to observe and tag these majestic creatures. The goal of their study was to observe the feeding off the oil rigs, tag the whale sharks to track their movements and retrieve DNA samples to discover family relations between whale sharks in specific geographic regions and around the globe. Robinson and his team also photograph the whale sharks and upload the pictures and analyze their markings. Like cheetahs and zebras, the whale sharks smattering of white spots and markings is unique to each animal (Martins and Knickle).
Robinson and his team observed that the oils rigs created and underwater environment very similar to a coral reef. Coral reefs are natural habitats where whale sharks like to feed. The diet of the whale shark is includes plankton and small fish. The mouth of the whale shark is long and broad and is lined with tiny teeth. They take in large amounts of tiny sea creatures, filter it through bristles in their gills and eat what is left (Whale Sharks, Rhincodon typus).
Robinson and his team are filmed throughout the week dropping sensors that will collect data on the whale sharks. Some of the sensors were tagged onto the whale sharks to track their movement though a satellite. Another type was dropped in the ocean to detect the whale sharks in the area.
The camera angles used were predominantly point of view shots when filming the underwater scenes. There were many close ups for the interviews with the minister, oil worker and scientists. Captions were used to identify the team and others involved in this research. An interesting embellishment was coloring over the film to give the appearance of a drawing. This happened most often to highlight the people involved. There was some variety in the shots. The minister was shot in his office, the oil rig workers on the rig and the scientists on their boat. The underwater shots captured the abundance of life under the oil rig and the vast quiet of the open ocean where the whale sharks were filmed when they were being tagged and when the scientists were dropping the sensors.
This documentary was serious and to the point. The information about the whale sharks and the activities of the scientists was clearly stated. It was dry and boring however. The underwater shots were the only interesting images.
“Natural World Documentary 2015 Whale Shark”
Whale sharks arrive to feed off the Australian Nigaloo Reef and disappear into the Indian Ocean after a month or two but it is uncertain where they go therefore Mark Meekam and his team have come to Nigaloo Reef to study and track them.
During the months of April and May, Nigaloo Reef is in full bloom as the coral reproduces and every fish in the ocean arrives to feed off the bounty. This gathering includes the mysterious whale shark who appears out of the depths of the Indian Ocean to partake. After a month or two, the gentle giants disappear back into the Indian Ocean.
Meekam and his team are prepared to tag the whale sharks and track them with a satellite to better understand their migration and movement. The team tags several whale sharks on their first day. Meekam names all of them. This documentary focused on one named Hamish. Hamish is a juvenile male, just like all of the other whale sharks the team tags. Meekam is able to track Hamish when he departs from the reef and journeys through the Asian shipping lanes and moves into the deeper waters of the Indian Ocean. The tracking device is able to relay some unusual behaviors such as diving to great depths and returning to the top of the ocean. The device also relays the unusual behavior of diving and rushing to the surface in a vertical fashion. Unfortunately the sensor falls off Hamish somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the team loses track of him.
Meekam and his team hypothesize that the whale sharks must migrate to the eastern coast of Africa and the area around the Seychelles Islands because within a couple of weeks there is another aggregation of whale sharks off this coastline. When the team arrives in Africa they are disappointed to find that none of the whale sharks were tagged or from the Nigaloo Reef.
For what appears to be dramatic purposes, Meekam’s son joins him on the expedition to dive with him and observe the whale sharks off of Christmas Island. It is the time of year when red crabs on the island reproduce. The females head from dry land to the water’s edge to drop their larvae. This mass reproduction attracts over a hundred whale sharks who come to feed on the larvae every year. This is the first time that whale sharks are studied in this area. The team is able to identify over a hundred of the whale sharks and none of them were ever recorded as being at Nigaloo Reef. Meekam revises his hypothesis that the whale sharks stay in the areas on either side of the Indian Ocean but do not cross the full distance.
The camera shots of this documentary were varied and very interesting. The shots captured more action than the other film. There tons of close ups and point of view shots. There are several very wide shots that were filmed by a flight crew in Australia. The whale sharks could be observed swimming in the ocean from this height. There are cut away shots that capture the team and their preparation of their equipment.
This documentary was considerably more exciting and dramatic. I enjoyed it very much. There was an excellent soundtrack that highlighted the activities of the crew and the movement of the whale sharks. Camera shots were used on both locations to capture the smallest parts of the food chain (fish, crabs), shots were also employed to heighten the drama of the team and their enthusiasm to tag and observe the creatures. The movement from one location to another was clearly described as were their actions and motivations by the narrator. The only drawback was the absence of captions to spell out people’s names and locations. That would have clarified information.
For purely scientific purposes and a quick documentary that highlights some established information about whale sharks, “Thee Whale Sharks of Qatar” will suffice. It is the type of documentary a middle school teacher could show her class if they were studying whale sharks. For both information and some dramatic entertainment, the Natural World documentary was much better. There was a sense of drama and urgency to the study of the whale sharks. The risks associated with the sharks crossing through shipping line made me worry for their safety. The style of filming made me feel as if I was swimming with them.
The Documentary Network. “The Whale Sharks of Qatar.” On line video. You Tube. You Tube
22 May 2013. Web 7 March 2015. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9gx3ChYzhA>
Martins, C. and Knickle, C. “Whale Shark.” Ichthyology. The Florida Museum of Natural
History. Web 7 Mar 2015
British Broadcasting Company. “Natural World Documentary 2015 Whale Shark.” On line
video. You Tube. You Tube 23 Jan 2015. Web 7 March 2015.
Norman, B. “Rhincodon typus.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3
Web 7 March 2015 <www.iucnredlist.org>.
"Whale Sharks, Rhincodon typus.” MarineBio Conservation Society. Web.
Web 7 Mar 2015. <http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=47>. Last update: 1/14/2013 2:22:00>
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