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CBC documentary series “Secret World of Sound” features Waterton Lakes National Park

Posted on February 26, 2024 by admin

By Heather Cameron
Westwind Weekly News

Episode Two of Secret World of Sound will be titled ‘Love and Rivals’ and features Waterton Lakes National Park and will premiere on February 22 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT/7p.m. MST) on CBC TV and CBC Gem.

Created by Infield Fly Productions, and Humble Bee Films in association with Netflix and Sky TV, Secret World of Sound is a program offered by the CBC’s The Nature of Things and hosted by Anthony Morgan.

“The idea behind the program is we all live close to nature, some of us closer than others, and we hear the sounds in the natural world, but frankly we don’t often understand what those sounds mean,” said Dugald Maudsley, one of the executive producers of the Secret World of Sound. “The other thing for us is that we did discover there are 200,000 species out there that make noise, make sound that we can’t even hear because usually vibrations is the way that they’re communicating, so our idea, and the reason we called (it) a Secret World of Sound, was ‘Can we get inside that world where we hear the sound but we don’t understand what it means?’ And can we get inside that world where we can’t even hear the sound and by doing that, understand the way that animals behave differently than we have in the past.”

Maudsley stated that the episode examines how animals use sound to both find a mate and see a rival.

“We’re looking at the elk rut and the way that the elk uses sound to alert female cows that it’s around,” said Maudsley. “It herds them using sound, but it also uses sound to warn off its rival. It basically uses sound to say, ‘I’m bigger than you, so you should stay away from me.’ If that sound warning doesn’t work well, Maudsley says, then the elk often must resort to using fighting and so there is both a fair amount of sound and fighting in the episode.” 

The making of Episode 2, Maudsley stated, involved having a cameraman out in Waterton Lakes National Park for approximately 25 days during the elk rut.

“He had to basically film not only the activity of the rut itself, but we had sound recorders out there who (were) also laying microphones in the area where rut takes place so we could capture the sounds that were taking place,” said Maudsley. “Often, we had to be a fair distance back to be able to capture the footage, and we just had to be very patient to be able to capture all of the behaviour that we were looking for.”

“Waterton National Park,” Maudsley says, “was absolutely terrific in making this happen and allowing the crew to get to where they needed to be without getting too close and helping them get their microphones into place, which of course was really important because they really wanted to get those sounds. The elk have this extraordinary bugle that alerts females that they’re there, and also alerts other males to their size, and it really carries through the air, being two sounds at once: one coming from the mouth, one coming from the nose.” The park, Maudsley says, also has a fantastic biologist named Robert Sissons, who is a rural expert on the elk who was terrific at helping them understand their behaviour.

“What’s exciting is to be able to let people know that there are these amazing creatures out there, and that a lot of them are here in Canada, and one of those places is Waterton, which is such a beautiful spot, and a place where you can see this amazing behaviour,” said Maudsley. “It’s kind of great to be able to not only give an insight into these animals and the way they behave and the way they use sound in these unique ways, but also I think to alert people to the fact that these extraordinary creatures are kind of right next door to many of us. I think we’re pretty lucky in Canada to have that.”

Maudsley says that in addition to Waterton Lakes National Park, Episode Two will feature the forests of eastern Australia where the male lyrebird, one of the greatest mimics of the natural world, can be observed attempting to wow a female with his song. Episode Two, Maudsley say, will also feature Washington State and the male plainfin midshipman, a fish that uses his song each summer to convince a female to leave the ocean and lay her eggs in his nest. Then, Maudsley says, the Behind the Scenes segment will feature the team filming a male treehopper using his song to try and capture a mate.

Maudsley also said, “It’s packed with facts about the way that animals behave. The greatest thing was just being able to get inside this world of sound, and we use some really unique technology to capture the sound that tiny creatures like tree hoppers make, and you can’t hear them without special equipment. When you use that equipment and hear the sounds they’re making, and then understand that they’re using the sound to duet with the female so they can find each other, and mate, it makes you realize that there’s all this activity going on that we really didn’t understand before.”

Maudsley says that funds for The Secret World of Sound came from CBC, Netflix, and SkyTV, as well as the Canada Media Fund and resources that the project’s co-producer in the United Kingdom accessed. In addition to writing the series, 

Episode One of Secret World of Sound was titled Hunters and Hunted and premiered on February 15 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and CBC Gem. Episode 3 of Secret World of Sound is titled Finding A Voice and will premiere on February 29 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and CBC Gem.

“I’m hoping that that’s one of the things that people take away, that sense of amazement and appreciation,” said Maudsley. “We have pulled back the amount of music that’s normally in a natural history series to really allow the natural sounds to take front and center stage, and so I think that all of those things will make it a really interesting series.”

In addition to Maudsley’s involvement, the Secret World of Sound was directed by Rebecca Hart, Gemma Brandt and Bridget Appleby, with Series Producer Sharmila Choudhury, Executive Producers Stephen Dunleavy and Dugald Maudsley, Producer Gillian Main, and Co-Producer Monika Delmos. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual, & Sports; Jennifer Dettman is Executive Director, Unscripted Content; Sandra Kleinfeld is Senior Director, Documentary; Sue Dando and Lesley Birchard are Executives in Charge of Production, CBC Docs and The Nature of Things.

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