The BBC has always set the standard for nature programmes and Britain’s Secret Seas is television series that celebrates the coastline of Great Britain. In the episode ‘The Power of the East’ we watch explorer Paul Rose and his team of Marine Biologist Tooni Mahto and Journalist Frank Pope exploring the waters around The Farne Islands in Northumberland. They are joined by Go Freediving’s Emma Farrell as she demonstrates the differences and similarities between seals and humans and freedives with her aquatic distant cousins.

BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell chatting with Paul Rose in the Farne Islands 2

Britain’s Secret Seas – The Power of the East

The seas off Northumberland are some of the youngest in the world, formed a mere 10,000 years ago and are relatively shallow but contain a huge amount of life.

The Farne Islands, where the Britain’s Secret Seas team spent the episode are a haven for seals, with a colony of thousands. The freediving segment started with presenter Paul Rose investigating the mammalian dive reflex by plunging his head in a bucket of cold water filled with ice cubes.

BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Paul Rose showing the mammalian dive reflex in action in the Farne Islands

The mammalian dive reflex is critical for freedivers as it enables us to dive deeper and for longer. You can read more about it in our chapter from The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving by clicking here.

Triggered by cold water facial immersion (and other things!), it’s a very quick way to show how low the heart rate can drop and a fascinating insight into a hard-wired evolutionary adaptation.

On Britain’s Secret Seas, The Power of the East, Emma Farrell was used as a freediver to show how humans share diving traits with seals, although to a much lesser extent!

A heart rate monitor was strapped to her, and then she dived twenty metres down to where Paul Rose was with a full face mask, showing what humans can do compared to seals.

BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell breathing up for a freedive in the Farne Islands BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving and descending down a line in the Farne Islands BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 4 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 5 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 6 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 2 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 3 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with Paul Rose on Scuba in the Farne Islands 7

Freediving with Seals

After the dive we looked at the heart rate monitor data, and although nowhere near the Bradycardia experienced by seals when they dive, the results still showed a drop in heart rate triggered by the mammalian dive reflex.

BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell and paul Rose looking at mammalian dive reflex heart rate data in the Farne Islands 3       BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell's heart rate on screen in the Farne Islands

After this, Emma went freediving with seals for the programme and showed just how playful the seals are.

BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving in the Farne Islands BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving over kelp in the Farne Islands 2 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving over kelp in the Farne Islands BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with seals and Paul Rose on Scuab in the Farne Islands 5 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with seals in the Farne Islands 4 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with seals in the Farne Islands 2 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with seals in the Farne Islands 3 BBC Britain's Secret Seas, the power of the East, Emma Farrell freediving with seals in the Farne Islands 1

You can also watch a film of Go Freediving students and instructors playing with seals in the Farne Islands in this video from one of our trips below:

Watch the Britain’s Secret Seas television programme for a limited time

For a limited lime you can watch the whole programme with Emma freediving on BBC i-player until the 20th March 2017 by clicking here!

Learn to freedive with the freediver from Britain’s Secret Seas – The Power of the East

Go Freediving is the longest established, most experienced and friendliest freediving course provider in the UK, led by world class freediving instructor trainer Emma Farrell, and her team of personally trained instructors. No other course provider has such a good instructor to student ratio, safety record and personal touch.

Whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into the world of freediving, a seasoned pro looking to turn professional, or simply a freediver of any level who wants the best freediving holiday in the world, we’re here for you!

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