Tom Mustill, director of “The Whale Detective”

by | Jan 8, 2020

Tom Mustill—a British director who makes nature and wildlife movies; his latest film is “The Whale Detective” (the impetus: Mustill and a friend were kayaking in Monterey Bay when a humpback whale breached, and just missed landing on them)—recounts when his fascination with animals began, and his early forays into filmmaking.

Mustill spends some time addressing a pivotal professional experience, working on the documentary series “Inside Nature’s Giants” (called “Animal Autopsy” in the U.S.), which he says was highly acclaimed and very popular. Another important film in the development of his career, Mustill recalls, was “The Bat Man of Mexico,” a documentary—narrated by David Attenborough, no less–that profiles Rodrigo Medellin, who had dedicated his life to saving bats, a story that also had implications for tequila! But mainly, Mustill discusses “The Whale Deetective” (which was premiering the night of this interview on PBS, as part of the “Nature” series): after the humpback/kayaking incident, he kept wondering if the whale was trying to hurt him and his friend—or trying not to, and Mustill’s curiosity launched him on a path seeking to answer that question, and others. He notes the whale experts he interviews in the film, including those in the highly specialized realm of those who disentangle whales from lines and nets. In the final moments, Mustill speaks to a decidedly non-wildlife film he made: about Greta Thunberg, “Nature Now.” (,,

COMEDY CORNER: Jake Johannsen’s “Whale Watching” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Stephanie Seymour’s “House Sparrow,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: King Crimson’s “Elephant Talk”


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