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Old Friday 9th March 2012, 12:58   #1
Monahawk
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Natural World. Grizzlies of Alaska.

Anyone watch it? Fantastic footage of bears especially the mother and cubs coming to within a few feet of the presenter and camera crew. Heart thumping stuff.
The presenter was a bit like Simon King meets Steve Backshall but other than that, a good hours TV viewing.

Si.
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Old Friday 9th March 2012, 14:03   #2
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I thought the presenter was almost as awesome as the bears. He clearly knew the individuals and their personalities intimately and I got the impression that despite the closeness of his approach to the bears, at no time was there bravado or foolhardiness about his actions.

The photography was superb. More like this please, BBC.

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Old Sunday 11th March 2012, 23:13   #3
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A brilliant presenter. He was very calm with the bears and would speak to them. Did that reassure them? I think I would be very scared out there. Those bears cubs are very cute.
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Old Monday 12th March 2012, 18:30   #4
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If you've seen Lyn Rogers (http://www.bearstudy.org/website/abo...rs,-ph.d..html) on various documentaries, he talks to the black bears.

I noticed when the brown bear was charging towards them, as soon as he raised his voice, it stopped immediately. I get the impression that they're the kind of animals that are happy to share their space with people as long as they're not being bothered.
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Old Monday 12th March 2012, 21:51   #5
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I thought he was ok, but he seemed a bit gung-ho like he had an eye on selling it to Discovery Channel. All the way through, I kept trying to banish comparisons with Timothy Treadwell, but couldn't completely.

He spoke to the bears too, but one day one of them got annoyed at the sound of his voice...

(incidentally, Grizzly Man [about Treadwell and his exploits with Alaskan bears] is a stunning film: beautiful, haunting, sad, crazy, ultimately tragic)
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Old Monday 12th March 2012, 22:45   #6
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I got the impression a lot of it was about his relationship with the bears - it wasn't the sound of a voice that stopped them, it was the sound of his voice (this was what, the fourth or fifth year he had been studying this population?)

Gung-ho he wasn't, expert he certainly was. Treadwell wasn't operating on the same level.

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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 00:28   #7
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I got the impression a lot of it was about his relationship with the bears - it wasn't the sound of a voice that stopped them, it was the sound of his voice (this was what, the fourth or fifth year he had been studying this population?)

Gung-ho he wasn't, expert he certainly was. Treadwell wasn't operating on the same level.

John
Treadwell had been doing it about 13 years, and he still got eaten because saying "hey there bear" is actually no real deterent.

Gung-ho was maybe the wrong word. He came across as being a bit self-consciously cool, or over-confident. Making it a little too much of himself and his cameraman. For instance, what was that sequence about his pillow all about? "I'm so hard I sleep with my head on a stick, but ooops you've caught me with my pillow". Fine, at the time it was maybe funny, but should have ended up on the cutting room floor. To keep it in was vain, but gave an insight into his mindset - 'I'm a hardman in the wilderness with bears. I want you to think I sleep with my head on a rock'.

I perhaps took an immediate negative view of his style when he insisted on using 'Australian Questioning Intonation'...

He was ok, but it did feel a little like a punt to the commissioning editors for a series.

There's also the question of whether showing a documentary of people hanging out that close to bears is very responsible, considering Treadwell and also his naively trusting girlfriend. Don't the Alaskan authorities take a dim view of it?

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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 07:53   #8
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
I got the impression a lot of it was about his relationship with the bears - it wasn't the sound of a voice that stopped them, it was the sound of his voice (this was what, the fourth or fifth year he had been studying this population?)

John
There was no evidence that this was true - did he mention this? And with all the bears in the area, it's unlikely that all the bears would have recognised him. Do we know that bears recognise individual people's voices? Voices sound different to us, but to other animals is there a difference?
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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 14:59   #9
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Don't forget - the park service shot all of treadwell's bears. The ex drug addict / medival themed restaurant worker's influence was all bad. Then a german made a movie.
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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 19:00   #10
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There was no evidence that this was true - did he mention this? And with all the bears in the area, it's unlikely that all the bears would have recognised him. Do we know that bears recognise individual people's voices? Voices sound different to us, but to other animals is there a difference?
My mother's dogs could identify her car arriving by its engine sound, as distinct from any other car even of the same type, through double glazing. Identifying individuals by voice is no effort whatever to the Carnivora. And their memories are long - we are talking about animals that have a lengthy education with their parents.

No he didn't mention this. I observed and deduced. I agree it is likely that not all the bears would have tolerated him. I suggest that the close shots were of bears he was familiar with.

To save a separate post in response to Alf, I didn't at all get the impression of a macho mindset. I got the impression of a normal bloke clowning a bit. I reckon you could have a good session down the pub with him. Not all scientists are geeks.

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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 19:58   #11
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My mother's dogs could identify her car arriving by its engine sound,
I thought the talking was to avoid spooking them, to let them know where you are, like talking to horses, or making noises in the presence of gorillas?

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Not all scientists are geeks.
John
Most aren't, in my experience. Sales of ale would plummet if it wasn't for scientists! But he didn't seem to be doing much science, and a look round his website suggests it's more about 'adventure' and 'outreach'. To quote:

"Chris' Mission

To make conservation a social norm.

Chris Morgan is a conservation ecologist who works through education, film, science, and campaigns to highlight wildlife conservation in fresh, fascinating ways.
"

A quick look on Google Scholar failed to turn up any scientific research papers in his name. He sounds like more of an 'activist/publicist' than a 'scientist'. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm not sure we should categorise what he was doing on the television as 'science'. It was entertainment/awareness, and I actually cannot think of a significant difference between that and what Timothy Treadwell was doing. The mission statement sounds eerily similar.

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Old Tuesday 13th March 2012, 23:26   #12
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I thought the talking was to avoid spooking them, to let them know where you are, like talking to horses, or making noises in the presence of gorillas?



Most aren't, in my experience. Sales of ale would plummet if it wasn't for scientists! But he didn't seem to be doing much science, and a look round his website suggests it's more about 'adventure' and 'outreach'. To quote:

"Chris' Mission

To make conservation a social norm.

Chris Morgan is a conservation ecologist who works through education, film, science, and campaigns to highlight wildlife conservation in fresh, fascinating ways.
"

A quick look on Google Scholar failed to turn up any scientific research papers in his name. He sounds like more of an 'activist/publicist' than a 'scientist'. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm not sure we should categorise what he was doing on the television as 'science'. It was entertainment/awareness, and I actually cannot think of a significant difference between that and what Timothy Treadwell was doing. The mission statement sounds eerily similar.
I believe that is the purpose of talking in general terms but I can easily believe that habituation allows it to have a more useful effect - provided you can identify habituated animals!

I would agree with you that doing TV programmes does not qualify as science (though it can very easily qualify as education). I would however suggest that if the BBC is content for his script to say he has been studying bears for however many years it was (a lot in my view, its my short-term retention that is letting me down) then perhaps he is one of the field researchers whose work is either incomplete or ends up in reports rather than papers. For instance I know a few reputable people in the UK whose work is mostly for power companies and subject to non-disclosure agreements.

I imagine in BBC budget terms funding a summer of his field work in return for a cameraman dogging his footsteps and some pieces to camera would qualify as cheap TV compared to anything except perhaps TOWIE.

John
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Old Wednesday 14th March 2012, 11:38   #13
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I believe that is the purpose of talking in general terms but I can easily believe that habituation allows it to have a more useful effect - provided you can identify habituated animals!

I would agree with you that doing TV programmes does not qualify as science (though it can very easily qualify as education). I would however suggest that if the BBC is content for his script to say he has been studying bears for however many years it was (a lot in my view, its my short-term retention that is letting me down) then perhaps he is one of the field researchers whose work is either incomplete or ends up in reports rather than papers. For instance I know a few reputable people in the UK whose work is mostly for power companies and subject to non-disclosure agreements.
Broadly agreed. Just so long as we don't end up with another 'Doctor' Gillian McKeith phoney academic!

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I imagine in BBC budget terms funding a summer of his field work in return for a cameraman dogging his footsteps and some pieces to camera would qualify as cheap TV compared to anything except perhaps TOWIE.

John
I got the impression that the BBC perhaps didn't commission or produce it per se, but it was created/filmed by a production company and then sold to the BBC? I don't think it was a BBC cameraman or filmed using BBC budget.
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Old Wednesday 14th March 2012, 18:25   #14
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Broadly agreed. Just so long as we don't end up with another 'Doctor' Gillian McKeith phoney academic!
I looked on his website, he's got an MSc Advanced Ecology from Durham, but not a PhD, so he can't (and clearly doesn't) call himself Doctor. It probably also means he's not done much primary research, although he does seem to be more involved with science communication and has lectured on university courses.
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Old Wednesday 14th March 2012, 20:42   #15
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Broadly agreed. Just so long as we don't end up with another 'Doctor' Gillian McKeith phoney academic!



I got the impression that the BBC perhaps didn't commission or produce it per se, but it was created/filmed by a production company and then sold to the BBC? I don't think it was a BBC cameraman or filmed using BBC budget.
With you all the way on the first bit!

As for the second, I think you can bet that at least the production company has established with probably more than one TV station that there will be some sort of market for their product and that they can at the very least expect to cover their costs. BBC then takes none of the risks but has already earmarked a lump of its budget - and the production company knows it....

Oh yes and I believe there is a defined ethos to the Natural World strand, which after all is the successor to The World About Us, so the type of content would be slanted towards that. Though no doubt the devil is in the detail of the editing.

John
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Old Monday 19th March 2012, 23:49   #16
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I liked his style but yes I agree he did try and act too much of the tough man. He also nick named that bear "fatso" - very childish u think.
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