Miranda Krestovnikoff’s Marine Highlights
Tuesday, 11 February 2020
In her talk ‘The Sea Around Me’, Miranda Krestovnikoff shared the many highlights of her career presenting television programmes focusing on marine wildlife and history. She concentrated on the amazing creatures that can be found in UK waters and showed that there is no need to travel to far-off places to find incredible underwater sights.
Miranda said, ‘We have an incredible diversity of wildlife right here in the UK,’ and through her talk encouraged the audience to connect with wildlife while also respecting and caring about the oceans and seas.
She began with a trip to the Gouliot Caves on the west coast of Sark, where she described the unsettling experience of being sucked in and sucked back out at the start and end of the trip as well as the incredible anemones she saw inside. Moving on to fish, she talked about the nest-building corkwing wrasse and the individual face markings of tompot blennies, which make it possible to track their dramatic love-lives.
It was a surprise for many in the audience to discover that the UK has two native species of seahorse. Miranda spoke about the difficulty of spotting spiny seahorses among the sea grass, even when she knew they were there, but also said she was ‘privileged to make people aware of these beautiful creatures and their fragile habitat’. This led her to also talk about the issues surrounding Protected Marine Habitats, as there are always people who want to use them, and the problem and impact of pollution. She discussed the work done by Neptune’s Army, a diving group dedicated to cleaning up marine rubbish, but also pointed out that sometimes rubbish isn’t anyone’s fault: for example, when a recreational fishing line snaps and cannot be recovered from land.
Returning to her diving experiences, Miranda talked about brief encounters with cuttlefish, the ‘clever clogs’ of the ocean with intelligence on par with a rat. She described and showed photographs and video of the cuttlefish and their chromatophores, which allow them to rapidly change the colour and pattern of their skin.
Miranda is the President of the RSPB and so her talk also covered a marine bird. She described the gannet’s two metre wingspan and its spectacular prey capture behaviour: a 30 metre drop at 100 miles an hour into the sea. She has seen this, plus their ability to ‘swim’ with their wings, first-hand from underwater.
Returning to more famous underwater wildlife, she talked about the UK’s sharks. There are 40 different species of shark that can be found in the UK’s waters and, though some are migratory, 21 are found all year round. Miranda talked about ‘filter feeder’ basking sharks but focused on her favourite species, the blue shark. She spent eight years trying to film with these predators and said that finally swimming with them was one of the real highlights of her career.
Finally, she talked about an incredible extended encounter with a solitary dolphin while filming a piece about shipwrecks for ‘The One Show’, and swimming with inquisitive grey seals that were curious about her diving equipment.
Miranda’s talk was illustrated by amazing underwater photographs and clips from her many television programmes. The message throughout was focused on the amazing wildlife that can be found around the UK and the need to respect and take care of the natural world around us. The event concluded with a question and answer session.
‘The Sea Around Me’ was part of a series of free, public Arts and Sciences Enrichment Lectures hosted by the Bolton School Girls’ Division. Members of the local community and students from local schools attended Miranda’s talk alongside Bolton School pupils.
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