Thu. Oct 29th, 2020

Wildlife documentary series to be filmed on SA’s Marion Island

Scientific research came to an abrupt halt on Marion Island due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

wildlife documentary series to be filmed on sas marion island - Wildlife documentary series to be filmed on SA’s Marion Island

A UK-based production company is en route to Marion Island to film a wildlife documentary series after their proposal was approved by South Africa’s environment department.

Marion Island lies 1,920 km southeast of Cape Town and is part of South Africa’s National Antarctic Programme, focusing on biological, environmental, and meteorological research.

The approval followed a rigorous process involving key stakeholders, and will see Plimsoll Productions and scientists collaborating to ensure the continuation of important research projects on Marion Island, the department said.

“There are significant, globally valued long-term science and conservation projects on Marion Island that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and both parties viewed this as an opportunity for collaboration.” 

The agreement with Plimsoll Production includes the charter of a private vessel at their own cost, with an offer to transport seven members of the M77 over-wintering team to the island.

“This would allow for the mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on science activities by enabling filmmakers and scientists to combine efforts to enable the continuation of field science programmes on Marion Island, as well as filming incredible natural behaviour. Some of these scientific datasets on Marion Island are nearing 40 years of uninterrupted observations.” 

princeedwardis ali 2009125 - Wildlife documentary series to be filmed on SA’s Marion Island
Satellite view of Marion Island. Image NASA.

“Earlier this year, scientific research came to an abrupt halt on Marion Island due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent hard lock-down in South Africa. This was a massive blow to the scientific community, but particularly so for programmes with long-term data collections like our MIMMP, that would be missing out on the entire 2020 field season,” said the Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme (MIMMP).

Strict conditions

The department added that there has been a thorough analysis of the proposed activities and the permit issued has very strict conditions attached to it.

“To monitor compliance with the permit conditions, a departmental official will accompany the film crew to ensure that they observe the necessary regulations and protocols. The proposal also went through an extremely rigorous interrogation by the Prince Edward Island Advisory Committee (PEIAC).”

The PEIAC was established in compliance with the Prince Edward Island Management Plan to ensure that the pristine nature of the Prince Edward Island is maintained and all activities are controlled and in compliance.  

Keeping with COVID-19 prescripts

In keeping with the COVID-19 prescripts and regulations, the entire team will adhere to a strict working protocols.

“For the trip to Marion Island, the charter vessel will be decontaminated prior to departure. A full inspection will be conducted on the vessel by DEFF to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.”

South Africa proclaimed sovereignty of the islands and established a meteorological station on Marion Island in 1948. 

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