For most of us, the closest we’ll ever get to wildlife is perhaps the local zoo, a kiddie safari adventure park or maybe even while channel-surfing on Discovery Channel.

Sure, as humans we often receive invitations to get up close and personal with others from our species at gatherings like baby christenings, marriage ceremonies and retirement parties. But in the animal kingdom there is no request for your presence—unless you’re kin or perhaps someone’s very next meal.

Beyond our own kind, we have always been curious about the world around us. And as film technology has advanced, it’s no wonder that G-rated wildlife documentaries have increased in popularity, and production, over the last few years: March of the Penguins, Earth, Oceans, Born to Be Wild, African Cats. The narration is compelling, the stories are enlightening and the cinematography is always breathtaking and filled with “how did they do that?” type of shots and unbelievable moments.

Turtle:The Incredible Journey is no different. Released by Hannover House and SeaWorld Pictures and narrated by Academy Award® nominee Miranda Richardson, this 80-minute wildlife documentary shows us what it’s like to be a loggerhead turtle (classified as "endangered" in the IUCN Red Book) and why a lifetime of swimming on a voyage that can span the entire Atlantic Ocean is what this amazing reptile was born to do.

Award-winning director Nick Stringer (National Geographic Explorer), a biologist turned filmmaker, takes us closer to these turtles that begin their lives buried alive on the beaches of Florida (about 1.6 feet down in the sand) and spend three days digging themselves out before reaching the surface. No bigger than the palm of a child’s hand, the loggerhead still has a way’s to go and some menacing predators to avoid before it reaches the ocean to begin its 20-plus year migration before returning to the place of its birth.

From the beach to the Gulf Stream to the Arctic and ultimately around the entire North Atlantic and back, this 9,000-mile adventure guided only by instinct is all captured in many powerful and emotional sequences in Turtle: The Incredible Journey, which releases Friday, June 24, 2011 in select cities (and is available in 3D in some markets) before expanding on July 1 and July 8.

I spoke recently with Nick Stringer and asked him to share more about what went into the making of this wildlife documentary and why he felt the story of the loggerhead turtle’s incredible journey needed to be told.

 


 

How did you decide to focus on the loggerhead turtle as opposed to maybe another type of endangered creature for this wildlife documentary?

The story of the loggerhead is an exceptional story in the animal kingdom. Loggerhead turtles have been around for more than 200 million years since the age of the dinosaurs. Their story is a remarkable story, and the loggerhead story begins from the day it’s born. It reaches out from its shell, climbs up onto the beach and in the span of one day it’s already begun its journey and its struggle for life. It’s a 20-year journey around the Atlantic. And there are very few journeys like that. It’s also kind of a canary in the ocean. Its story is kind of symbolic of what is actually happening in the ocean today and all the impacts of fishing, of oil and some of the effects that we have on marine life are very, very clearly seen here in the turtle story. So for me it was just an obvious one and one that I’ve been enchanted with for the last 20 years and was glad that I had a chance to tell that story.