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NATURE: Patrick and the Whale

Patrick Dykstra swimming with whales. Dominica.
Romain Barats / © Terra Mater Studios GmbH
/
PBS
Patrick Dykstra swimming with whales. Dominica.

Premieres Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV / PBS App + Encores Sunday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. on KPBS 2

For years, Patrick Dykstra has traveled the globe following and diving with whales, learning how whales see, hear and perceive other creatures in the water. But then Patrick has a life changing experience in Dominica - a close encounter with a sperm whale he names “Dolores.” With breathtaking underwater footage, witness the attempts to communicate and understand each other in NATURE “Patrick and the Whale.”

NATURE: Preview of Patrick and the Whale

Weighing more than 15 tons, a sperm whale has a brain larger than any other animal on earth and is considered one of the more social whale species. Over the years, Patrick has worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to learn how whales communicate, how they perceive other creatures in the water, and how they behave in his immediate presence. With sensitivity and experience, he gets closer to whales than nearly anyone else, leading to once-in-a-lifetime experiences and personal bonds with specific whales.

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Presenter and underwater cinematographer Patrick Dykstra, fully equipped for a dive, sitting on a boat. Dominica.
Romain Barats / © Terra Mater Studios GmbH
/
PBS
Presenter and underwater cinematographer Patrick Dykstra, fully equipped for a dive, sitting on a boat. Dominica.

Follow Patrick as he undertakes an adventure to find “Dolores” again, to ask her to take a camera down into the depths. She and another female sperm whale called “Can Opener” help Patrick show us the hidden world of her species while respecting their boundaries.

NATURE: Befriending a Sperm Whale

With the help of his friends more than 250 times his weight, Patrick explores their fascinating nature attempting to shine a light on the sperm whale’s intelligence and complexity, as well as highlighting its current and past relationship with humankind. The program explores the psychology of a man who has sacrificed everything in his single-minded quest to connect with and understand one of the biggest creatures in the ocean.

NATURE: What It's Like to be Surrounded by Whales

Filmmaker Quotes:

“I've been fascinated by whales since I was teenager visiting the Smithsonian, discovering how little we actually know about these creatures,” said Patrick Dykstra. “I made it my mission to go out and find whales in the ocean and spend as much time with them as possible. The encounters I’ve been privileged to experience have been humbling and have taught me that we can never truly comprehend these highly sensitive giants with our intellect, but only with our emotions.”

“'Patrick and the Whale' is that rarest of films, where the science becomes the driving force for an emotional journey,” said director Mark Fletcher. “There is never a dull moment, and we feel by the end that we better know whales, language, and even ourselves.”

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Patrick Dykstra films a sleeping whale. Dominica.
Romain Barats / © Terra Mater Studios GmbH
/
PBS
Patrick Dykstra films a sleeping whale. Dominica.

Join The Conversation: NATURE is on Facebook; Instagram; tiktok.com #NaturePBS

Credits: A production of Terra Mater Studios in association with The WNET Group. The documentary is directed and edited by Mark Fletcher and produced by Walter Köhler and Wolfgang Knöpfler. James Reed, Alexander Nanau, Dinah Czezik-Müller, Michael Frenschkowski, Sabine Holzer and Martin Mészáros are executive producers. Presented by Patrick Dykstra. For NATURE, Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer, Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor. NATURE is a production of The WNET Group.

Patrick Dykstra and a sperm whale. Dominica.
Romain Barats / © Terra Mater Studios GmbH
/
PBS
Patrick Dykstra and a sperm whale. Dominica.