Filming Animals in the Gulf

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By Charley Miller, Coordinating Producer 
Sitting on the plane, getting ready to take off on the flight to New Orleans, my head was full of project-related worries.  Were we going to get access to boats we needed?  Where were we going to sleep the next night?  I had been working non-stop in the weeks leading up to the trip, planning logistics, interviewing scientists, assembling crew.  Despite all the news coverage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, I’d hardly had a moment to consider what was really happening on the front lines of the spill.

We filmed in Louisiana and Alabama for just 4 days – all of them jam packed – covering responders battling the spill.  Rushing from one scene to the next, it was hard to really understand the magnitude of the efforts we were seeing.  Documenting the events came first, understanding them would come later.

It wasn’t until I was back at National Geographic Headquarters, watching the footage we’d shot, that the extent of rescue operations in the Gulf really hit me.  We had been out with a group of more than 10 people on three boats to rescue one bird.  We’d scoured miles and miles of open waters of the Gulf for hours looking for individual turtles.  We had seen how whole facilities are dedicated to rehabilitating animals for as long as it takes to get them back to health.

Images I’ve watched on TV and in newspapers are heartbreaking, but the dedication of those who have worked so hard to save defenseless animals shouldn’t go unnoticed.  Their commitment and perseverance in the face of a monumental task is something I will always associate with this project.

Saved from the Spill premieres Tuesday October 5 at 9P et/pt on Nat Geo Wild.