The crew from NBC is finishing up their filming and will be heading home tonight. We've had a busy week, working 10-14 hours every single day.
They had quite the whirlwind tour.
On Monday Laurie, Ike and I took them on a tour of the Marpi area and Tapachou. We visited Bonzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, Bird Island, and Grotto. They shot b-roll at each location, which they'll use as background video for their story. After the tour we had a nice lunch on the beach at Oleia Beach Bar & Grill followed by a long meeting with Dr. John Joyner at the Coastal Resources Management Office. That evening we had a BBQ/meeting with the Friends of the Monument at American Memorial Park. About 40 people showed up and we grilled hot dogs, chicken, and ribs as the sun set over the Philippine Sea. Jane posted pictures on the monument blog here.
On Tuesday we took the crew diving. We drove to the Grotto first thing in the morning, followed by three boat dives on the Aqua Jet boats. We dove Naftan, Ice Cream (where we saw about a dozen spotted Eagle Rays), and Shipwreck. Between the third and the fourth dive we stopped off at Managaha and shot some video.
On Wednesday we went to Hopwood Junior High School so that they could film me giving a presentation to one of Kimberly Vaillancourt's science classes. The kids in the class were some of the 1000 or so students I presented to last year during the campaign. This presentation was a follow up to last year's presentation and we discussed some of the social issues that arose as a result of the monument declaration and what the declaration will mean for them in the years to come. Working with students is the most enjoyable part of my work. In the afternoon the crew went out on one of the Division of Fish & Wildlife enforcement boats. They patrolled the lagoon with the enforcement officers, but didn't find any bad guys. After that we hiked about half way down to Forbidden Island for my interview. I sat in the grass on the ledge just above the steepest part of the trail as the cameras rolled. We also did a few "walk-by" interviews on the way down and on the way back up. As the sun was getting close to setting we raced down to Susupe to film the sun setting behind the World War II tanks in the lagoon.
On Thursday the crew traveled to Guam to meet with Bill Chadwick from Oregon State University who is leading an expedition to one of the seamounts within the Monument this week.
Today they filmed Mike Tripp, John Starmer, Harry Blalock, and me as we talked on the Harry Blalock Island Issues radio show. In a few minutes they are going to go out on the Pacific Subsea submarine with Bryan Jones and some of his students from Marianas High School. After that, I think they'll be done. They leave Saipan later tonight.
It has been a real pleasure taking the crew around the island and talking with them about the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and life in the islands in general. I swelled with pride when we were at Bird Island and Forbidden Island and Ian Williams remarked, "this is just spectacular." Mike Tripp was noticeably happy when Ian told him it was one of his best days of diving ever. This coming from someone with 170 dives from throughout the Asian-Pacific rim.
I'm looking forward to seeing the three minute piece when it airs in two weeks...the week of Earth Day.
I asked if the story they are going to edit is the story they expected to find when they got here and Kyle said, "yes, pretty much."
The story is basically going to be in three parts, with some overlap and some themes running through the whole story. We talked a lot about the current marine protected areas and some of the successes and challenges associated with them. We also talked a lot of life in Saipan and what it is like living here. With that said, the story is going to focus on the community support that we built during our campaign last year, the unique "wonders" of this area and the reasons for protecting them, and then finally the challenges that will likely be faced in managing a marine protected area the size of Switzerland.
Barring any terrorists attacks, further global economic meltdowns, wars, or Britney Spears scandals, the story is scheduled to air the week of April 20. I will, of course, embed the video on this blog when it goes up on the Internet. I'll also let you know ahead of time exactly when and on what channel the story will air (on primetime!!!!)