"Animals with Cameras" with Gordon Buchanan

Final Episode on BBC One: Thursday 15 February 8pm
Devil Rays in the Azores

In this three-part series, wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan collaborates with scientists in the field to attach cameras onto animals in the wild. On their journey, which takes them to all corners of the globe, they uncover unexpected findings about the lives of some of the planet's most captivating species.

 Presenter Gordon Buchanan and Devil Ray researcher Jorge Fontes

Presenter Gordon Buchanan and Devil Ray researcher Jorge Fontes

Mark spent one week filming for the Devil Ray sequence (Episode 3/3) on the Princess Alice Sea Bank in the Azores during August 2017.

 Gordon, Mark and the Crew in the Azores.

Gordon, Mark and the Crew in the Azores.

The team set out to discover why vast numbers of Devil Ray gather every summer near the Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic. The team successfully deployed specially designed cameras which towed behind the rays, these in turn witnessed wildlife spectacles seen for the first time including 'sun-bathing' ray at the surface reheating after a cold dive and unborn ray pups kicking inside their giant, four-meter-wide mothers; a sign that this congregation might be a breeding ground for these majestic ocean giants.

Devil Rays are fascinating creatures – they are some of the fastest and deepest divers in the ocean, and swim with such elegance. When they are not feeding, their cephalic fins are curled and point forward and down, giving the appearance of devil horns; hence their name.
— Mark Sharman, Cameraman
 Mark's topside camera set up in the Marina da Horta, on the island of Faial, Azores.  Panasonic Varicam LT,  Canon CN-7 17-120mm lens.

Mark's topside camera set up in the Marina da Horta, on the island of Faial, Azores.  Panasonic Varicam LT,  Canon CN-7 17-120mm lens.

Devil Rays are under threat from fishing, boat traffic, habitat decline and pollution and are currently listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. Although not usually targeted by fisheries, Devil Rays often become victims as bycatch. The good news is that Project AWARE have already made a positive impact to help protect Devil Rays.

 Legendary Azorean Captain, Norberto Serpa was the expedition leader.

Legendary Azorean Captain, Norberto Serpa was the expedition leader.

Other wildlife events captured within this three-part series include fascinating insights into penguins catching their prey 200 miles off the coast of Argentina and fur seals avoiding attacks from great white shark off Australia. Further details and clips are available at BBC online.

Reviews:

The Telegraph 'Culture' Review 4/5 Stars

The Express

Sunset Azores.jpg

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are available on BBC iPlayer until February 2018.

The crew Mark worked with on the shoot:

Matthew Andrews, Field Director; Mark Roberts, Sound Recordist; Nuno Sá, Underwater Cameraman.