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Brokaw: James Cameron talks about ‘Secrets of the Octopus’ on Nat Geo

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Apr 16, 2024

Courtesy image

“Secrets of the Octopus,” produced by James Cameron, premieres Sunday, April 21, 2024, on Nat Geo and afterward can be streamed on Hulu and Disney+.

James Cameron, National Geographic’s explorer-at-large, brings viewers a new and fascinating documentary as part of the “Secrets of” franchise. This three-part documentary, “Secrets of the Octopus,” is narrated by Paul Rudd. Cameron spoke about this show and his interest in science.

“I don’t remember exactly what’s been announced on the ‘Secrets Of’ (series), but we are definitely planning several more really interesting animal species. The wealth of information coming in from the science community on everything from bees to penguins, octopus, which we managed to capture the magic of with this series. It’s really endless. The natural world is fascinating.”

Cameron, who wrote the “Avatar” films, “Titanic” as well as many others that rose to the top of the charts, is excited to bring the natural world to viewers. “I studied marine biology back in my college days, back in ’72, ’73,” he acknowledged, “and the stories around octopus at that time — individual octopuses that exhibited incredible behavior from opening a jar to get at something inside, something to eat, to climbing out of a tank and coming over and making physical contact with the leg of a marine biologist in his office that the octopus had bonded with.” These actions are amazing.

Octopuses are misunderstood, as Cameron explained. “I’ve always held the octopus in very high regard as a science fiction writer. I always imagined that when that flying saucer lands on the White House lawn and the ramp comes down, it’s going to be something that looks like an octopus that comes out,” he stated without sarcasm. “Because there are certainly more water worlds in the universe and worlds that are under ice and have liquid oceans than there are worlds like us that have a balance between land and ocean.”

Although National Geographic has big ships, helicopters and various equipment at the ready, Cameron acknowledged, “The beauty of this octopus series is they live relatively shallow, and you can pretty much do your work on scuba.”

This series brings the animals to the focus of the viewers in an individual way. “This is about human patience and human understanding and creating. In the case of Dr. Alex Schnell, for example, who is our featured marine scientist, it’s about creating a bond with individual animals of these different species and just observing them, then applying some science to interpret what you’re seeing.”

Cameron is a busy man. He works on both the big and small screens. His association with National Geographic goes back many years. In the “Secrets of” franchise, he has previously focused on whales and elephants, and he looks forward to continuing to bring the science world out of the shadows for viewers of all ages.

While viewers might associate Cameron with high-tech feature films, his love of storytelling is at the heart of everything he does. “My goals in my daily life and my business life and as the film creator, a creator of movies — the ‘Avatar’ films right now — and as a creator of the natural history and nonfiction content that we do with the National Geographic, it’s all kind of the same motivation, which is to apply what I’ve learned over 40 years in the storytelling business, to raising consciousness, reminding people how connected we need to be to nature, to be psychologically whole, to preserve the natural ecosystems, the living biosphere of the planet.”

“Secrets of the Octopus” premieres Sunday, just in time for Earth Day, on Nat Geo and streams the following day on Hulu and Disney+.


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