Australians in many cities have suffered through brutally long COVID-19 lockdowns over the past year, including one since June shutting Sydney residents within a five-kilometer radius of their homes. Now a filmmaker and drone pilot has produced a stunning ocean video within a restricted radius of the city’s coastline, featuring a local maritime star known as Alex the seal.
Nick Holton says he made his Locked Down in Planet Blue film to help distract Sydney residents – and thrill viewers elsewhere – with visual reminders of the beauty and diversity of ocean activity around the Bronte Beach area. To do so, he relied primarily on UAV footage he shot of people and marine life making the most of that stretch of coastline. The headliner of the drone video is a big, indeed larger-than-life Australian fur seal that residents call Alex, and who may just wind up an international star thanks to Holton’s homage.
The drone video manages the trick of being both entertaining and educational, providing history behind the over-hunting that brought the species to the cusp of extinction, and information on their habits in Sydney’s cold water. (Get ready to hit the pause icon when Alex de-chills with his flippers held skyward to let the sun warm them, and sending the re-heated blood throughout his body.)
Holton’s drone video later captures Alex’s diverse aquatic skills as the seal harnesses the power of waves that local surfers couldn’t snag.
Elsewhere the seal can be seen using those human companions in the lineup to help heard a massive school of Australian salmon he’s decided to feast upon. Given the determination, skill, and apparently bottomless appetite Alex displays, it’s little wonder he’s developed the considerable girth he has.
Toward the end of part one of the drone film, Alex can be seen swimming near surfers who reach out and pet the approaching companion – something one does when encountering other well-known locals in the water only at considerable risk to life and limb. One shot also catches Alex playfully darting in the shallows of a beach among swimmers – a calm but happy mingling seeming to suggest the seal is as pleased to see those temporary lockdown escapees as they are to be out with him.
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