Reality shows thrive on big splashy characters with big heads and great survival stories. It doesn’t hurt of some of the stars are easy on the eyes and have great survival stories. Who doesn’t love a dolphin? What is the cute quotient of an otter? If you want scary, then there could be great white sharks. Tonight on television, online and on your smartphones and social media, you have two chances to view a reality show that is totally unscripted and yet bound to delight. And for Californians, this should be a matter of pride. Tonight and Tuesday and Wednesday on both coasts there will be a live feed from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET and PT from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California on PBS.

Geeks might already be somewhat familiar with the Monterey Bay. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was used as a filming location for “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” The aquarium was supposed to be The Maritime Cetacean Institute in Salusalito, California. It was supposed to be the only late 20th century aquarium devoted to whales on earth and the home to the only two humpback whales in captivity, Gracie and George. Gracie and George were need to repopulate the species in the 23rd Century.

The aquarium will also be one of the “locations” used in the upcoming Pixar animated feature, “Finding Dory.” This sequel to the 2003 Pixar film “Finding Nemo” opens in the summer of 2016.

While “Star Trek” and the Dory story are fiction, the BBC and PBS joint live television and multimedia event, “Big Blue Live,” is science fact and will feature  scientists,  animal behaviorists and other experts coming together for two amazing live weeks in late August and early September to document the extraordinary rejuvenation of the once endangered and now thriving ecosystem of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures – humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, shearwaters, and brown pelicans – convene in this once-a-year confluence.

In both feeds, as well as streaming online and in social media, viewers can watch one of nature’s great “reality” shows delivered through state-of-the-art filming technologies and live reports from air, sea, and below the waves. The multi-platform event will be anchored by four on-air correspondents from a reporting hub at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and from aboard NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ research vessels. Leading scientists and other experts will provide additional insights.

The on-air correspondents include Dr. M Sanjayan, the host of “Earth: A New Wild,” recently on PBS, and currently the senior scientist at Conservation International; Liz Bonnin, a science broadcast journalist based in the UK known for her work on the BBC science programs “Bang Goes the Theory”  and “Stargazing Live”; Dr. Joy Reidenberg, the host of “Sex in the Wild,”recently on PBS, and a comparative anatomist with expertise in marine mammals, will be on location as a primary science contributor, providing insight into the anatomy of the wide range of marine life that populates Monterey Bay; and Steve Backshall, an award-winning naturalist, writer and TV anchor known for his work on BBC’s “Deadly 60.”  Leading scientists and other experts will provide additional insights on different aspects of marine life and ecology.

Last week, a week prior to the PBS broadcast, BBC aired its live broadcast in the UK, and streamed online and through social media for UK viewers. Matt Baker, a UK-based news anchor known best for his work on “The One Show,” a daily magazine program airing on BBC appeared on the BBC live broadcast.

“Big Blue Live” is part of the new multi-title co-production deal between PBS, BBC, and BBC Worldwide North America announced earlier this year. The partnership provides a pipeline of high-quality entertaining factual programs that PBS and BBC audiences have come to expect.

Tune in tonight and get ready for some fun.The series will have multi-platform support from digital and social media, as well as from PBS Learning Media and local PBS stations. Anything can happen and anything can show up. Watch and share your thoughts on twitter. For more information, visit PBS.org.

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