Marine Spectacles – Our Top Marine Videos

The underwater world is full of incredible marine spectacles and creatures. We are highlighting our marine collection during June, so here are some of our favourite videos from the seas of the world, ranging from Solvin Zankl’s otherworldly deep-sea creatures to Mark Carwardine’s graceful rays roaming the deep blue ocean.

Capturing this plethora of life is a rewarding and challenging process for videographers. Read on to learn more about their experiences and discoveries. And if you license footage, why not come to  Footage Marketplace on June 21st and  see our latest showreels and talk to the NPL team?

Creature of the Deep

Solvin Zankl

The deep sea is home to strange and unusual looking creatures, the type that inspire sci-fi film makers. Photographer Solvin Zankl had the incredible opportunity to explore this world on the SO285 scientific research cruise from Germany to South Africa and Namibia:

“During the trip the scientists collected a creature found at depths over 500 metres in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Namibia. It had eight arms each possessing a row of fleshy spines that can be extruded outwards when agitated. The creature was a deep-sea squid adapted to living in low oxygen zones known as a vampire squid.

Contrary to its name it does not feed on blood but on small bits of dead and faecal matter, called marine snow, that continuously rain down into the deep sea. They are unique in that they don’t squirt ink like other cephalopods but rather eject a luminescent mucus to stun predators. The scientists were lucky enough to find it.”


Celebrity Whale sharks

David Weiller

“A year before the pandemic, I went to Oslob in the Philippines to get some aerial shots of a whale shark and was shocked by my experience. I saw small 3-4 metres long juvenile whale sharks surrounded by a huge crowd of tourist, only about 50 meters from the shore.

I was told by locals that there were a least a thousand tourists per day. They would wait in line from 6am until noon for their turns to join the banka boat tours and snap close-range photos and baby whale shark selfies. Some tourists tried to swim close to the sharks whilst others turned their backs to them passing by posing for photos taken by the boatman.

I didn’t swim there. I stayed a couple of nights, took the pictures from above and left quickly.”


Rocket Penguins

Frédérique Olivier

I have long been intrigued as to how penguins release bubbles as they ascend making them look like rockets in the water. Swimming in freezing water underneath the sea ice in Antarctica I was able to capture a large number of penguins all coming up in harmony. I later found out the rocket-like appearance of the ascending penguins is caused by the effect of trapped air in their feathers expanding and being released as they come up to the surface.


A Creature of Habit

Frederique Olivier

“I was incredibly lucky to reside in a spot on Uepi Island, Solomon Islands where I could dive every day and get to know the life rhythms of the reef creatures around me. After a week or so, I realized that this common reef octopus was a creature of habit in his hunting behaviour, which gave me the opportunity to film him closely. He hunts by changing colour for camouflage and wrapping his tentacles around coral heads in search for prey.”


An Oasis for Sharks

Brandon Cole

“There is so much action here in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji. I was in 4 metres of water at the top of the reef with black tip reef sharks and scissor tail sergeant fish zooming around me. They thrive off the nearby long-established shark attraction for scuba divers where bait is used.

The reserve is Fiji’s first marine protected area, established in 2004. Fijians take protection of the reef and marine life seriously and it shows. Sharks are in big trouble in so many other places worldwide but here up to 8 species of are regularly sighted. It’s encouraging to see that where there is will and enforcement protection efforts can be successful. I wish that there were more protected areas like this around the world.”

A Big Fish with a Big Mouth

Brandon Cole

“Every year the largest fish in the sea gather off the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the whale sharks. They gather in July to August to feed on the transparent floating eggs of spawning fish and little tunny, a small tuna species.

I photographed this 6-metre-long whale shark miles off the shore of Isla Mujeres. Feeding sharks gulp the water into their huge mouths retaining food and flushing excess water out of their gills. Although their mouths are huge their throats are small meaning they mainly feed on tiny plankton.

The reliable sightings of these whale sharks near the surface has resulted in a large, now regulated, tourism industry, where permitted boats take tourists out to swim near the sharks. (see ‘Celebrity Whalesharks’ above).”

‘Flying Tortillas’

Mark Carwardine

“Devil rays are renowned for leaping out of the water in huge numbers. No one is sure why but having watched them do this many times over many years, my theory is that it is calling in other devil rays to make a giant mating school. I have noticed that with time and plenty of leaping the school grows to be quite large quite quickly.

I captured these devil rays with a drone in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. The local Mexican fishermen call them ‘flying tortillas’. The rays are hilarious! They leap out of the water, do somersaults and land on their stomachs with a huge splash. I’ve even seen people burst into spontaneous applause when it happens!”

Secluded Lighthouse

Milan Radisics

“Built on an 80m wide island 2.5km from the coast Porer lighthouse faces some extreme conditions. The lighthouse was built in the Adriatic Sea in 1833 off the southern tip of Istria, Cape Kamenjak and is still active. It is alternately guarded by two guards who ensure the maintenance. They repaint all surfaces regularly exposed to winds, salt and moisture and are in constant radio contact with the coast overseeing the operation of another lighthouse further out to sea.

Living in the lighthouse has its own challenges. There is electricity but limited running water as availability depends on a well. These days there are 4 apartments in the lighthouse for those that like to escape.”


Otherworldly Corals

Jacob Guy

“I filmed this clip of a starry cup coral during lockdown in the UK. I shot all the sequences in my apartment using two marine tanks which where both full off a variety of coral. After doing a lot of research on coral adaptations for a dissertation I wanted to show how coral is more than just colourful rocks. Under different lighting, such as the UV lighting used for this clip, and over time these corals can display some incredible movements and colours.

To shoot coral time lapses I used some underwater photography techniques with bright location lighting, normally used for modelling shoots, along with a lot of practice and patience. Over 27,000 images where taken during this project and a lot of time assembling them into these mesmerising videos.

Knowing the threat all corals around the world face, I believe the footage shows one of many reasons why we should protect our oceans and create further awareness of what is hidden beneath the waves.”


Diving with a Blue Whale

Juergen Freund

“I was in Indonesia with my wife when pygmy blue whales were migrating from Western Australian waters to the Banda and Moluccas Sea. When we dived into the deep blue water it was an unforgettable moment. We saw nothing at first and then a massive sleek 20+ metre pygmy blue whale effortlessly passed us. We were finning like crazy to keep up, which was of course impossible. It was a once in a lifetime exhilarating experience. When we stopped finning, adrenalin pumping, it felt like our hearts were going to pop out of our bodies.

The current conservation status of this subspecies is highly uncertain and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists it as data deficient. The distribution and seasonal movements of pygmy blue whales are also poorly understood. Satellite observations suggest that the Banda and Molucca Seas are likely a calving area for the pygmy blue whale whilst the Perth Canyon/Naturaliste Plateau region of Western Australia is an area where individuals spend time most likely feeding.”


Underwater Friends

Lewis Jefferies

“I shot this footage during a month-long filming trip volunteering with the Maldives Whale shark Research Programme in the South Ari Atoll. I was filming a self-produced documentary around the history, tourism and conservation of the whale shark in the Maldives.

The anemone was on the edge of a reef wall around 10 metres deep so I had to achieve neutral buoyancy in order to capture steady footage. I used my camera in an underwater housing with a wide-angle lens, dome port and video lights.

This species of blackfinned anemone fish is endemic to the Indian Ocean. Like other anemone fish they are classed as a protandrous hermaphrodite which means they all start life as males and later change sex to females.

They are completely dependent on their host anemone and form a mutualistic relationship with around 10 different species of anemone. The anemones provide a safe haven for the fish and their young, protecting them from predators with their stinging tentacles. The anemone fish are immune to the stings and eat food scraps and dead tentacles from the anemone. In return the fish protect the anemone from predators and provide nutrients through their waste. Isn’t nature just amazing!

Anemonefish are always a favourite subject of many videographers and photographers as they are so beautiful, colourful and photogenic. Their popularity has resulted in them being an ‘umbrella’ species helping protect the rest of the animals in the sea.”


Pulsating Polyps

Lewis Jefferies

“This subject was part of colony of animals rising up from the seabed in the Red Sea, Egypt. To achieve the angle and stable shot required lying flat on the seabed with my camera on an underwater tripod.  I used a macro lens and video lights to capture the beautiful, intricate movements of the xenid coral polyps. They are quite hypnotic to watch and pulse around 40 times a minute.”


Docile Dogfish

Lewis Jefferies

“Seagrass meadows are a very important habitat for small spotted cat sharks or dogfish as they lay their eggs in the shallow waters and shelter here to rest.

They lay their eggs in pairs, each encased in a tough case made of keratin. These have long curly tendrils at each end which are used by the female to attach them to seaweed. She may spend a long time laying her eggs ensuring they’re securely fixed in a safe place. The protective capsule contains a yolk sac giving the developing embryo everything it needs. After about 6 months the egg hatches and a fully-formed miniature version of the adult swims out, around 10cm long.

They are always a pleasure to find on any dive and are usually quite docile, allowing you to get very close without disturbing them. I captured this one in Helford River Estuary, Cornwall, UK.”


Friendly Turtles

Noémie Stroh

“Elphinstone Reef near Marsa Alam, Egypt is known for its sharks and turtles. The turtles love feeding on the soft corals here. I was in 5-metre-deep shallow water at the end of a dive when I saw this turtle feeding on jellyfish. Turtles are usually quite friendly when you approach them making this a nice creature to photograph.”


A Shrinking Glacier

Pål Hermansen

“In the last couple of years climate change has made it possible to sail near Lilliehöökbreen glacier, Svalbard as early as March and April. A couple of decades ago the fjords were frozen until June. The 22km glacier is named after Swedish commander Gustaf Bertil Lilliehöök (1836-1899) member of geologist O. Torell’s Spitsbergen expedition in 1861.”


A Stealthy Hunter

Sue Daly

“Cuttlefish are masters of the art of camouflage. They are not only able to change colour but also texture to perfectly blend with the seabed. When unsuspecting prey comes within range they strike at lightning speed with a pair of tentacles longer than this amazing creature’s body. I filmed this one hunting at dusk close to the harbour wall on my home island of Sark, in the British Channel Islands. On this occasion the cuttlefish was feeding on small gobies but I’ve watched them tackle prey almost as large as themselves, even heavily armoured crabs. They are able to kill and dismember the crabs with a hard beak that lies within their cluster of tentacles.”

Underwater Forest

Sue Daly

“Seaweeds thrive in shallow water where there is plenty of sunlight to photosynthesise and nutrients from seawater to absorb. This species of furbelows seaweed lives below the low tide line so is always underwater but others live higher up the shore and can survive out of water for several hours drying almost to a crisp on hot days. From early spring seaweeds grow rapidly then die back in the winter. Unlike land-based plants, they lack a root system and instead anchor themselves by a ‘holdfast’ that may take the form of a simple disc or a complex structure of interwoven fingers. Seaweeds create an underwater forest as diverse and colourful as any found on land and provide food and shelter for a wealth of marine life.”

Orca Feeding Time

Espen Bergersen

“This footage was captured off the coast of Tromsø where orcas come to feed every winter on herring. Herring need temperatures below 6 degrees to successfully reproduce and so populate the fjords in their millions during the winter. As a result the waters between Kvaløya and Andøya become teeming with orcas and humpbacks, as well as the occasional fin whale.

Over the last two decades, the herring have moved further and further north, and the whales with them. It could be that global warming and rising ocean temperatures have compelled the herring to seek colder, more northerly waters, but scientists don’t know for sure. What we do know is that the herring have migrated some 300 km (190 miles) from their former wintering grounds of Vestfjorden, to their new home in the coastal areas outside Tromsø. The other big change is that the fish were once preyed upon by orca alone. Now, humpbacks are gate-crashing the party.”



Explore More…

You can explore the full YouTube playlist of these clips here. And we’ve also created a new Marine Spectacles gallery,  from which you can download the web resolution files.

Take a look at one of our other blogs below to find out more about whales in Norwegian fjords captured by Espen Bergersen, or about the work of videographer Fred Olivier…