Spy in the Ocean
From beautiful coral reefs and golden beaches to rocky coasts, icy waters and open ocean, the Spies will take us on a truly global adventure to meet the animals who call these extraordinary places home.
Each episode will host a new generation of hyperreal Spies that will be explore a different aspect of the oceans’ animals – from intelligence to relationships, extraordinary abilities and bad behaviour. They will venture into the unexpected emotional realm of some of the oceans most peculiar inhabitants, something rarely explored, bringing their stories to life in a completely fresh and unique way.
As the Spies push the boundaries of what they can do there will be near-misses, unexpected encounters and the occasional casualty in their ocean breaking quest. Spy in the Ocean will be an epic adventure full of excitement, humour, variety, absolute beauty, mysteries, magic and wonder…expect the unexpected!
Spy in the Ocean Premieres In The UK –
Sunday 4th June, 2023 at 7pm on BBC One
In the first episode of the latest “Spy” series, a new generation of Spy Creatures search the ocean for intelligent life and find ways of thinking that must be seen to be believed. The most complex Spy Creature ever built films the owner of the largest brains on the planet – sperm whales. Spy Whale is the same size as a newborn whale calf and is equipped with an array of cameras. It even has a hydrophone to capture their calls. In a magical close encounter, Spy Whale is greeted by an inquisitive female who, in astonishing scenes, attempts to communicate. In a touching sign of acceptance, she even introduces her calf to Spy Whale. Getting to know the greatest mind in the invertebrate world requires a very different Spy – one that’s a dead ringer for the coconut octopus it’s designed to meet. Its subject not only has a central brain it also has a brain in each of its arms. Using its combined brainpower, it works out how best to steal a coconut shell carried by our Spy. Its plan is to use the shell as a door to its hideaway to protect itself from predatory sharks. In another act of ingenuity, it improvises a shield and throws missiles at a rival octopus. It also shows a softer and more emotional side when it gives Spy Coconut Octopus a friendly and lingering embrace. In Thailand, Spy Macaque joins ocean-diving macaques as they forage underwater for seafood. Our Spy captures a filming first as the macaques catch fish with their bare hands. To break open oysters, they also use stone tools including our very own Spy Rock. In Japan, Spy Puffer becomes an artist’s assistant to a male Japanese puffer fish as he crafts exquisite sand sculptures in a quest to woo a mate. When he runs out of the shells to use as decoration, Spy Puffer comes to the rescue, finding shells for the male to complete his masterpiece, enough to impress the most demanding art critic of all – his mate. Intelligence gathers pace when Spy Sea Lion meets the world’s fastest fish and the sea lions that hunt them. Marlin use teamwork to drive mackerel shoals to the surface only for them to be stolen by quick-thinking sea lions. When Spy Sea Lion takes us on a rollercoaster ride inside the shoal, its camera eyes show how the shoal’s swarm intelligence is pitched against that of the clever sea lions. It also discovers some extraordinary new behaviour as the sea lion gift some of their catch to the marlin. On a Caribbean beach, another Spy meets the crab world’s most entertaining characters – hermit crabs. They may be comical in nature, but they also have highly developed organisational skills. When they’ve outgrown their shells, they line up in order of size to exchange them for a better fit. All is going well until Spy Hermit Crab loses its shell to a crab looking to upsize its accommodation. The crab becomes the unwitting camera operator as it captures a crabs-eye view of the organised chaos. On another Caribbean Island, a colony of wild pigs embrace beach life by taking a daily dip in the sea. Spy Pig joins their daily ritual as they forage for food brought in by visiting boats. As their ingenuity draws the crowds Spy Pig gets caught up in the resulting feeding frenzy. Back on the reefs, Spy Coconut Octopus donates its shell to a family of enterprising clownfish. In an astonishing show of teamwork, the fish work together to move the shell back to their anemone, creating a safe place to lay their eggs among the poisonous tentacles. In this action-packed first episode, our Spies discover sea creatures with many mind-boggling ways of thinking, but none match those with the biggest brains of all – sperm whales. In more astonishing scenes, Spy Sperm Whale witnesses a rare and beautiful gathering as whale families from far and wide huddle together and exchange information – an extraordinary display of social intelligence uncannily similar to our own.
In this episode, our Spy Creatures dive into the world of animal emotions by befriending the most complex minds in the ocean and gaining insights into their innermost feelings. Bottlenose dolphins are famed for their intelligence, but Spy Dolphin is on a mission to find out what they really feel. Spy Dolphin is prepped and ready to join a pod of thrill-seeking dolphins surfing the waves, kitted-out with extra thrust, it gets a lesson in having fun from the experts. Riding the surf, fin-to-fin, Spy Dolphin’s camera eyes see the dolphin’s moods soar with an endorphin hit; jumping, leaping and playing tricks in the waves with their friends, until…wipe out! Spy Cuttlefish takes the title of the most sophisticated Spy ever made; its integrated screen can replicate the changing patterns of real cuttlefish. Giant cuttlefish wear their emotions on their sleeve, or skin to be more accurate. and so does our Spy. When Spy Cuttlefish shows the patterns of a male it is treated with hostility and rivalry, yet when it switches to the patterns of a female it becomes an object of desire among the males. Spy Cuttlefish must rely on its in-built communication skills to disentangle itself from the complexities of cuttlefish courtship. In the process, Spy Cuttlefish gains an insight into what both male and female cuttlefish really feel. Cuttlefish aren’t the only sea creatures to wear their feelings on the outside, but none have mastered the art of disguise better than the mimic octopus. Spy Octopus sets out to observe mimic octopus behaviour, but first it has to find one! In a truly mesmerising display of skill, the mimic octopus shows off its shape-shifting repertoire. From poisonous flatfish, to dangerous lion fish and even a venomous sea snake, no impersonation is too great a challenge. It even manages a credible impression of our very own Spy! Spy Dolphin’s next mission is to French Polynesia in search of more fun-loving friends. But it gets more than it bargained for when approached by a boisterous baby humpback whale, five times its size. However, there is a Spy for every occasion and joining Spy Dolphin is a 3.5 metre-long Spy Humpback Calf, fitted out with 5 multi-angled 4k cameras. Our Spy is an instant hit with the baby humpback, and through its camera-eye we witness an emotional connection starting to form. In New Zealand, Spy Seal joins a group of fur seal pups as they face the most emotional moment of their young lives – their mothers have gone fishing. For the first time, the pups are left to fend for themselves, but at least they have each other…that is until a storm hits and the youngest seal pup finds itself left behind as the other seals head for the hills. For this young pup, an extraordinary journey lies ahead as it tries to catch up with those seeking safety inland. When emotions get too much, Spy Seal’s presence gives the young pup the morale boost it needs. The manatees of the Caribbean are mysterious creatures, but they too show a strong emotional side, especially when hanging out together among the beauty of the coral reefs. To discover more, Spy Manatee is perfectly designed to fit in, being infant-sized increases its chances of being accepted. It moves and swims like the real thing too. Patience pays off and Spy Manatee gains a privileged view into their complex relationships. It even experiences first-hand just how affectionate manatees can be. In the ultimate sign of acceptance, it even receives a manatee kiss. In Japan, a competition breaks out as mudskippers try to win a female’s favour. Spy Mudskipper turns on the charm using its flag-waving fins and its programmed leaping function. Its larger size is appreciated by the female, but when the two other frontrunners fight it out among themselves, will his jump measure up? Back in New Zealand, after an emotional journey helped by Spy Seal, the seal pup joins his lost friends in a beautiful pool beneath a waterfall. As we found with all the animals our Spies encountered, their feelings are startlingly similar to our own.
In this episode our Spies reveal the extraordinary relationships that exist among the creatures of the ocean. Spider crabs rise up from the abyss in their thousands to shed their protective shells but, as our Spy Crab soon discovers, this makes them an easy target for hunting stingrays. But there’s protection in numbers, and those still with armoured shells form a crustation fortress that protects the vulnerable crabs inside. Spy Crab finds itself alone and unprotected and an easy target for the rays. Sharks have a reputation for being solitary killers, but when Spy Hammerhead joins a huge gathering of hammerhead sharks it discovers they can be surprisingly social. This mechanical marvel, propelled by its undulating tail, discovers why they meet together at a remote island off the coast of Colombia. A place where the laws of the food chain don’t seem to apply. Here they take a break from the rigours of the ocean and are groomed by king angel fish. When Galapagos sharks arrive, they are welcomed by pilot fish who swim close to their jaws, using the shark as their personal bodyguard. Rainbow chub have another relationship, they use the shark’s serrated scales as an exfoliator to remove parasites. The fish may be dicing with death, but in this place of apparent harmony, none are ever eaten. Spy Moray Eel joins the gathering to explore the incredible hunting partnership between leather bass groupers and moray eels. The groupers find where the fish are hiding, while the eels flush them from their coral hideaways. Elsewhere we discover that dolphins are more sociable than ever imagined and provide more proof of their fun-loving nature. Spy Dolphin and Spy Pelican discover they don’t just play among themselves they also encourage whales to join their games. In incredible scenes they leap playfully together, but in the end a whale is no match for a dolphin. In the Caribbean, Spy Manatee films the uneasy relationship manatees have with remora fish. These hangers on hitch a ride on the manatee’s backs, feeding on parasites as well their poo. The manatees also visit a spa staffed by sergeant major fish. The attention they receive sends them into a state of bliss until rays and sharks appear. These predators can’t resist taking an exploratory nibble from our Spy. Of all the relationships found in the world’s oceans, few can beat the spinner dolphins. Off the coast of Costa Rica, a team of Spy Creatures find out how essential communication is when hunting. Their astonishing leaps are a signal to other dolphins and they use their clicks and whistles to communicate at close range. In one of the most incredible sights ever seen, groups of spinner dolphins come together to form a megapod numbering thousands. As they set off to hunt, Spy Dolphin & Spy Frigate discover a surprising partnership between tuna and dolphins – one that takes them to a school of flying fish. In incredible scenes, the dolphins drive the flying fish from below, while the tuna pursue them in the air. On the pacific coast of North America, Spy Tunacrab arrives just in time to witness another rarely seen spectacle. Tuna crabs, a type of squat lobster, rise to the surface in their millions to feed on the plankton that gather in these nutrient-rich waters. As storms build in the Caribbean, spiny lobsters prepare to migrate to calmer and warmer waters using an ingenious way of traveling – a lobster conga! Spy Lobster joins a procession of over 50 lobsters as they march in single file to deeper safer waters. There’s safety in numbers and before long they go their own way as some find shelter in a shipwreck. Finally, our Spies travel to the Galapagos to discover the rich community of sea creatures that live there. Marine iguanas huddle together on the volcanic rocks basking in the morning sun ready to take on the day. Spy Iguana joins them as they leap into the ocean to search for food beneath the waves. Here our Spy also encounters the wondrous mola mola who arrive to be cleaned by angelfish and hogfish before they vanish back into the deep. Our Spy has one last inhabitant to find…a colony of damselfish. They are meticulous gardeners who work together to maintain their lawns of algae which they use to catch the eye of a mate. To succeed they must dispatch any trespassers. The worst of all are sea urchins who can graze their lawns to the ground. To remove them requires skill and cooperation. It makes a fitting end to our Spies’ ocean voyage. One that shows how sealife is interconnected in ways we could hardly imagine, an undersea world built on extraordinary relationships.
This final episode explores the challenges ocean life must overcome to survive. Spy Whale is joined by Spy Dolphin as they encounter a humpback whale calf in danger of drowning, as competing males pursue its mother. After a remarkable effort from the mother, she not only manages to protect her baby from danger, they both also gain a bodyguard! On the island of South Georgia, a version of the first Spy Camera ever made makes a triumphant return. This new Bouldercam dodges eight tonnes of colliding blubber as male elephant seals fight off rivals. In the chaos, an elephant seal pup is separated and his survival depends on finding his mother. Bouldercam is with him all the way as he fights off skuas and other dangers. Spy Crab meets the infamous peacock mantis shrimp and soon finds itself on the receiving end of the strongest punch in nature, a knockout blow faster than a speeding bullet. In the Galapagos, Spy Seal does its best to keep up with a lonesome sea lion as it chases tuna, one of the fastest fish in the ocean. Not only must he catch this enormous fish alone, he must do it while fighting off hungry sharks. In the hidden depths of the Californian coast, there are fish that must be seen to be believed. Alien-like sarcastic fringehead use their outsized gaping mouths to ward of rivals. Spy Fringehead is soon caught in the brawl, but its open mouth reveals a camera, one that captures a fish-eye’s view of the threat it faces. Off the coast of British Columbia, huge herring shoals face even greater trouble as they head to their spawning grounds. Spy Herring eavesdrops on the strange sounds produced by flatulent herring as they guide others to the spot. Our Spy slips into the shoal as they attempt to dodge marauding sea lions and the diving scoter ducks that are after their eggs. Life on the beach isn’t always the paradise it’s cracked up to be. When hermit crabs gather to swap their shells, things can go very wrong, very quickly. When a crab loses its shell it has to think on its feet. Its solution is inventive – the lid of some suntan lotion provides a temporary refuge from predatory birds. Our Spies are not immune to trouble themselves. When Spy Pelican films the spectacular spawning of grunion fish as thousands emerge from the sea to spawn on the beach, it takes a catastrophic plunge into the surf, leaving Spy Crab to takeover filming duties. Spy Iguana is also in trouble when it tries to film iguanas gallantly battling the stormy sea. Despite its best efforts it is soon washed away. When the same happens to Spy Octopus, all is not lost. It’s rescued from the storm surges by its old friend, the coconut octopus. On their many adventures across the series, our Spy Creatures travelled the globe to reveal the extraordinary intelligence, surprising emotions and complex social lives possessed by ocean life. On the way, they shed light on the mysteries of the deep as never before.