Teaming Up With The Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit
A blog post by Greg
Hopefully by now it is no secret that Felicity and I spent a couple of weeks in September 2021 with the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit in Scotland filming a two part documentary, about the work that they do to study and assist dolphins, whales and porpoises in and around the Moray Firth (and of course the research that they do goes on to assist cetaceans, which covers all three of these, around the world).
As I write this blog, we are pleased to say that the documentary is now available to purchase on Amazon’s Prime Video in the UK (HERE) and the USA (HERE), and that we are continuing to donate half of anything that Felicity and I make through streaming and sales from this documentary to the CRRU to help them keep up the great work that they do. I thought that this means that it is the perfect time for me to share a little bit about the CRRU and our involvement with them.
Back in 2018 Felicity and I decided to start ‘Curios Aquatica‘, which Felicity has written a whole blog post about which you can read to find out more about what that involved. Part of our aim, however, in trying to help to save the seas and the creatures which live in them, was to fundraise for marine charities. The first year we selected the Marine Conservation Society UK, and raised some money for them, however when we reached the second year we decided we wanted to find a smaller charity, one which we could get to know a little more closely, and where we would be able to see (and share with our supporters) what the money was going to help.
We looked into a number of charities, and then we found the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit. Felicity is very interested in cetaceans, you may have read her previous blog post about them, which was why we had visited the whales of Magdalena Bay while we were in Mexico, fulfilling a dream that Felicity had held onto since she was a young teenager. We looked into the charity, and very quickly agreed that this was the charity for us to support, and so we began turning our fundraising towards them.
While we were planning our videos, it suddenly occurred to us that making a documentary about the work that the Cetacean Research and Rescue team were doing would be perfect. We could donate some of the income from the video to support the charity (we have actually decided to donate half of everything that Felicity and I received as a result of streaming sales to the charity), and also hopefully show the work that they do and encourage others to get involved and to do what they can to help support these wonderful creatures, and the seas and oceans in general.
So I sent an email to Dr Kevin Robinson, the lead researcher and director of the CRRU, with a fairly modest proposal. Would he, we asked, be willing to allow us to come up to Scotland, find a hotel locally, and visit them for a couple of days to do some interviews, film some of what they get up to, and create a documentary, and we waited for his response, expecting either a polite ‘we’re too busy to have someone getting under our feet filming’, or allowing us to come up as we suggested.
This was not, however, what happened. Dr Kevin arranged a video conference with us (this was during the pandemic, while we had all of our video equipment set up in the ‘Mercave’ for online shows), and made a counter suggestion. He was incredibly supportive of our idea to come and make a documentary, but suggested that if we were to really be able to present the team and their work from a place of understanding, then we should be part of the team. This meant joining one of their research teams (they have several over the summer – find out more about how you can get involved here) and spending ten days living with them, working with them, going out on the boat with them, and generally getting a real ‘inside look’ at what they do.
Of course we leapt at the chance… and then the waiting began until the pandemic was over, and we could find a space on a team (we did not want to take a place away from a research student, and there are limited spaces on the boat for each team).
Then in September 2021 things came together, and we found ourselves travelling north from the Isle of Wight all the way up to Aberdeenshire in Scotland, and a small village on the coast of the Moray Firth called Gardenstown, and driving carefully along the sea wall there (barely wider than our van) to the CRRU base.
I don’t want to go too far into our experiences with the CRRU, we are really proud of the two-part documentary we have made, and are really pleased with the way it tells the story and presents the work that the team do, so we would prefer you watch that to find out all the details. I just want to share with you some of the feelings behind this documentary and why it is a little different in style to our others.
To briefly explain what the CRRU does, I can’t do better than quote from their website.
The CRRU is a marine conservation charity dedicated to the study, conservation and understanding of UK whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in northeast Scotland through scientific research, environmental education and the provision of a voluntary veterinary rescue service for marine wildlife in distress.
This gives a big overview of what the team do, and to give you a little more of an idea of what to expect from the documentary it seems a good time to include the trailer for you to take a look!
This was a very different documentary for us, because it was important to us to take a slight step backwards from the ‘limelight’. In our travel documentaries we are the presenters and the storytellers, we are taking you on a journey with us, and the main focus of the films, whether the background is Turkey, Romania, Mexico or the Isle of Man, is us on our journey showing you around and sharing our thoughts.
Obviously that is an element of the Scotland documentary, but we were also arriving as part of a team, and a team that we wanted to learn from, and whose knowledge we wanted to share with everyone else. Also, if there was one of us who really deserved to be there, it was Felicity, who (and she will question this, but it is my blog post) knows a lot about cetaceans. She has had a huge interest in them all of her life, and has read books, watched documentaries, and continues to learn about them as much as she can. I would say (because I am not modest like she is, I am a performer with a performer’s ego) that I know more than the average person about cetaceans, and I did even before we visited the CRRU. What I know, however, I learned by osmosis from Felicity, and I know how little I know in comparison to her.
I know filmmaking better than Felicity, I don’t think she will question that. When we make our documentaries I am the one who understands the kit best, and it is me that ‘sees’ the story (see my previous post about choosing our destinations) and puts together the first rough edit to show this story. While we are filming our travel documentaries we are generally equal in the amount of time we spend filming and presenting on camera, but on this occasion I knew that wasn’t going to give us the best results. In order to capture the team, and to allow Felicity to really experience being a full part of the team, we would each be best playing to our strengths. So although you will see both of us on camera, you’ll notice that my pieces are more about the film and the story, pieces to camera, updates, etc, whereas Felicity is part of the team, getting involved with taking identification photographs, discussing aspects of the work with the team, and learning how to do various jobs involved in being part of a research and rescue team.
We also had a lot more characters in these documentaries. While our travel documentaries usually feature us as the main characters, and I like to think of the country we are in as the third main character (and in Romania it felt like Vlad Dracula was a recurring character throughout), with any other people who feature in the films appearing almost like ‘guest’ performers, some of them stealing the show for a moment such as Marco the wonderful guide in Palenque!
In this documentary, however, there is an ensemble cast, and we had to make sure that we put focus on the whole team otherwise the film would not have worked. Dr Kevin, obviously, would be a main feature, but the whole team had their own areas of expertise, and we are so grateful to all of them for throwing themselves into working with us as much as we tried to throw ourselves into working with them. For the first time in one of our documentaries we also had other camera people for a couple of shots, particularly the drone shots and at some of the underwater shots, which were filmed by other members of the team.
This will, therefore, always be a special documentary for me because it is something so different from what we have done before, and likely from what we will do again. In general our documentaries will still be about us on our travels, and will be an equal blend of Greg and Felicity, and with us leading you on a journey and taking you into our world. However, on this occasion, it was fantastic to be part of a team working together to help the cetaceans of the Moray Firth, and also to make a two part documentary!
We hope you enjoy the documentary – if you do, please leave it a review on IMDB and/or Amazon!
Happy adventuring, and please, take unbelievably good care of yourselves, and of each other!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please leave a comment and say ‘hello’!
For information on all of our projects, visit: www.gregandfelicityadventures.com
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There are various places you can watch our documentaries and series!
Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland: A two-part documentary about the work of the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit as they work to help whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Moray Firth in Scotland:
Free in the USA on Tubi TV at:
Free Worldwide on PlexTV at:
With a library card on the Hoopla service where applicable:
Free in the USA on Xumo at:
Buy it without ads Amazon’s Prime Video at:
(Greg and Felicity are donating half of our streaming income on this documentary to support the CRRU).
Available to buy on DVD (with £5 from each donated to the charity): https://ko-fi.com/s/73e469d114
ROMANIA: SEEKING DRACULA’S CASTLE: Our travel documentary looking into the history, legend and castles connected to Vlad Dracula III, sometimes known as Vlad the Impaler, and a journey around Romania:
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/romania-seeking-draculas-castle
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579192/romania-seeking-dracula-s-castle
Prime Video (From £1.99, no Ads) (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk//dp/B08RDPZP14
Prime Video (From $1.99, no Ads) (USA): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RDJR4F2
TURKEY: FAIRY CHIMNEYS AND UNDERGROUND CITIES: A travel documentary across Turkey, from the Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities of Cappadocia to the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus and Hierapolis:
Prime Video UK (From £2.49, no Ads): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KKSZLRW
Prime Video USA (From $1.99, no Ads): https://www.amazon.com/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KK6VDJB
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579225/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Greg Chapman’s Magic Show: An eight-part series of magic and entertainment with Greg:
Free in the USA on Tubi at: https://tubitv.com/series/300008713/greg-chapman-s-magic-show
Free worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/show/greg-chapmans-magic-show/season/1
Available to buy on DVD: https://ko-fi.com/s/7c1bc10a08
Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty: Filmed on our honeymoon in Mexico in 2019, our first travel documentary took us through the ancient sites of Teotihuacan, Uxmal, El Tajin, Palenque, Chichen Itza and Calakmul, and then on to see the whales of Magdalena Bay, whale sharks of La Paz, and more.
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yfMpD868MHU
The Isle of Man: Railways, Castles and Seals: Our second travel documentary took us to the Isle of Man!
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/uCpUa6XEkbg