On Earth Day, National Geographic released a brand new series, “Secrets Of The Octopus” on Disney+ around the world and this is the latest instalment in the “Secrets Of” franchise, which has previously included Elephants and Whales.

Octopuses are like aliens on Earth: three hearts, blue blood and the ability to squeeze through a space the size of their eyeballs. But there is so much more to these weird and wonderful animals. Intelligent enough to use tools or transform their bodies to mimic other animals and even communicate with different species, the “Secrets Of The Octopus” are more extraordinary than we ever imagined.

Recently, I got to speak with National Geographic Explorer, Wayfinder Awardee and science communicator Dr. Alex Schnell about the new series.

How long have you been working on “Secrets Of The Octopus”?

So the team actually came to me about two and a half years ago. And so it’s been a huge labor of love. You know, I think we spent over a thousand as a team collectively, over a thousand hours underwater. We went to multiple countries. We really focus on 12 different species out of the 300 species of octopuses.

What is your favourite type of Octopus?

That’s an impossible. I love all of them. No, I mean the two highlights, I think, were the day octopus, so Scarlett is the individual day octopus that I bond with, and then also the coconut octopus. They’re so tiny, but they just have so much character.

What was the one thing you learned while making this series that surprised you?

There’s secrets in it that we that I had read about. And I was really excited to witness first hand, and then there were just revelations that we’d never, ever heard about, so we found our courtship in day octopuses, and we’d never observed, or, you know, read about coach behaviours and octopuses. And so this is where the male is doing this beautiful, elaborate dance with flashes of colour and different arm postures, and it was just so nice to witness him serenading. This female, and then also the tool use that we say in the coconut octopus, I had read about defensive tool use where the coconut octopus carries around two halves of a coconut like a mobile home.

But when we got there we got more than what we bargained for, because, we witness the coconut, this coconut octopus being threatened by a manta shrimp, this very angry shrimp that has a very.  It’s swift punch. It can even punch through aquarium glass. And just in that moment we witness this octopus have an Id, and she, you know, scampered over to pick up this shell, and she ended up using it as a shield to defend myself against this angry man. But it was just I was so blown away by the level of intelligence that I was saying that I was screaming underwater.

What was it like working with James Cameron on the show?

Well, James Cameron is a true ambassador of our oceans, and it was fantastic. There’s kind of a behind-the-scenes section at the end of Episode 3, where we sit down and go through some of the footage that we collected on the series, and just having his input but also his response to that footage was really special. You know, he revealed that octopuses have inspired some of his own characters in his Hollywood films. So that was really exciting. You know, there’s a sex. There’s a sequence where we show an octopus potentially dreaming. And he was sharing that a lot of his dreams have inspired some of his own films. So that was really special, but also just having his overarching creative direction in this series. Just make made it pop, I think, and and you’ll be able to say the quality of the film it. It’s just next level.

“Secrets Of The Octopus” is out now on Disney+

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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