Early next week (31 August – 2 September), PBS and the BBC are going to present a huge “live” media event. I say “live” because although the event will be aired in the evenings, all the preview footage I’ve seen has been shot in during daylight hours. Anyway, you can read all about it in the press release.
Big Blue Live, as it is called, is a collaboration among the Monterey Bay Aquarium, NOAA, and both media networks. I can guarantee that there will be some spectacular footage of wildlife within the Monterey Bay. You know, whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, and perhaps the odd bird or two. This is the stuff of wildlife, the so-called charismatic megafauna, that have warm bodies and look at you with big eyes.
My concern, as a perennial fan of the overlooked and underappreciated, is that the whole media event will focus only on these large mammals (and maybe a bird and possibly even a fish), and neglect or give short shrift to the countless fascinating and ecologically crucial critters that form the lower trophic levels. In other words, the invertebrates. Not to mention the organisms that ultimately produce all of the food in the marine trophic system, the phytoplankton. I expect that there might be lip service paid to the phytoplankton, krill, and baitfish which are the reason that the whales and such come to Monterey Bay, but I will be pleasantly astonished if more than a few seconds of air time are devoted to them. Somehow it’s just not easy to make diatoms sexy to lay people, even those who say they love marine biology.
Thus, anticipating that my beloved invertebrates won’t get much mention, I’m going to post some of my favorite pictures of them here, as I photographed them in the field. And as you’re watching Big Blue Live, keep in mind that there’s more to (wild)life than charismatic megafauna.