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PBS Unveils Slate of Ocean and Freshwater Programming Media Play News

February 12, 2024

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger Feb. 12 at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour unveiled a new slate focused on ocean and freshwater-centered programming, emphasizing PBS’s pivotal role in addressing the changing climate.

“In a critical year for ocean science and health, PBS is intensifying its commitment, complementing the multiyear climate initiative, and marking a crucial step towards enhancing awareness and tackling the urgent challenges our oceans face,” according to PBS.

The broad slate of programming will explore these issues through new and returning series including new docuseries “Hope in the Water,” “Dynamic Planet,” “Sea Change,” and returning series and episodes from “Changing Planet,” “Nature,” “Independent Lens” and “Weathered.”

Programming includes: 

“Nature: Patrick and the Whale” is a tale of cameraman Patrick Dykstra, and a sperm whale he named Delores. For years, Patrick has dedicated his life to traveling the globe following and diving with whales. He has learned how whales see and hear, how they perceive other creatures in the water, and how they behave at close quarters. His calm and delicate behavior around whales allows him to consistently get closer than anyone else. Viewers follow Patrick to the Caribbean where he meets a very special whale who allows him to enter her realm. Using extraordinary underwater footage, Patrick explores the fascinating world of the sperm whale and shines a light on its intelligence, complexity, and emotions. The program premieres Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. EST on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS app.

“Changing Planet: Coral Special” embarks on the third year of a seven-year project examining the issues facing the planet’s most threatened ecosystems. Dr. M. Sanjayan visits the Maldives to take an in-depth look at coral reefs and the urgent efforts to help them survive climate change. Globally, coral reefs are at a crisis point — warming seas cause corals to bleach and without action nearly all reefs could die off in the next few decades. There’s a race against time to help damaged reefs recover. The program premieres April 24 at 8 p.m. EST on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS app.

“Independent Lens: One With the Whale” explores why hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the residents of St. Lawrence. When a shy Alaska Native teen becomes the youngest person ever to harpoon a whale for his village, his family is blindsided by thousands of keyboard activists brutally attacking him online — without full perspective on the importance of the hunt to his community’s well-being. The program premieres April 23 at 10 p.m. EST on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS app. The program will also be available on the PBS YouTube channel beginning on Earth Day, April 22.

“Hope in the Water” travels the globe to discover the creative solutions and breakthrough blue food technologies that could not only feed us but help save our threatened seas and fresh waterways. The series highlights the stories of amazing innovators, aquafarmers, and fishers who are working toward a sustainable future for the planet. The three-part series premieres June 19 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS app.

“Dynamic Planet” is a new series, filmed over three years, that travels to the extremes on all seven continents to meet an extraordinary group of people and animals living and working on the front line of climate change. They reveal how science, nature and tradition can prepare us for the future. It premieres in June 2024 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS app.

“Sea Change,” a special presentation of “Nova,” is a story about a sea within the sea, a body of water that is warming 99% faster than the global ocean. What happens here, for the animals in the water, for the jobs’ dependent upon them, and for the millions of people along its shores, is likely to happen worldwide. We are at a crossroads for the future of the Gulf – and our oceans. Does it retain enough of its biodiversity and regenerative strength to weather the human-induced storm? Is the sheer beauty of the place and spectacular range of its creatures enough to wake us to the stakes? A tale about a regional location with profound global implications, this three-part prime time documentary series premieres July 24 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS, the PBS app, and the “Nova” YouTube channel. A digital series produced by Indigenous filmmakers in collaboration with Vision Maker Media and “Nova” accompanies “Sea Change.”

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“Weathered,” based on the hit YouTube series on PBS Terra, is evolving into a six-episode longform series that uses weather and natural disasters to draw viewers into gripping stories about climate science. This first season features a range of ocean-related climate stories, from the coral reef collapse in Florida to melting ice caps to the connection between ocean currents and sea level rise. The series will reveal how we can prepare for these extremes as well as the groundbreaking solutions scientists and everyday people are exploring to make these weather events less likely in the future. It premieres August 2024 on the PBS App and YouTube.

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Stephanie Prange

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