Nature

Alien Contact

Synopsis

Emmy award-winning filmmaker and marine biologist Rick Rosenthal teams up with science fiction writer Chris Carter on an investigative journey to explore evidence of intelligent life, not in space, but in the sea – specifically, manta rays. Might these alien-looking animals be trying to make contact with us? There are intriguing clues.

Rick’s investigation explores the life histories of several species of rays, while assembling a compelling case that one of them, the giant manta, may actually be making contact with, and even influencing, the behaviour of humans. We reveal the beauty of these most elegant of fishes, expose their vulnerability and come away with the mind-blowing revelation that in important ways, manta rays are closer to primates, dolphins and elephants than many other mammals.

The life history of mantas includes lives lived at extremes. Wingspans of almost 8 metres put them among the ocean’s largest inhabitants. Like whales, mantas can migrate thousands of kilometers across oceans, and are equally at home on the surface as at great depths.

In ‘Alien Contact’, we examine manta rays in the context of their and other rays’ interactions with one of their principal predators – killer whales. We see the mantas’ almost mammal-like courtship and mating displays as clues to their social sophistication.

But it is the mantas’ deliberate solicitation of human contact that sets Rick and our audience on their journey of discovery into the mind of the manta. From mantas looking for a bubble massage from a scuba diver’s tank, to rays seeking rescue from entanglement in fishing lines, the evidence of a higher intelligence is compelling. In its most convincing argument, ‘Alien Contact’ shows that manta rays are also self-aware. They recognise themselves in a mirror – a level of intelligence seen only in a handful of other animals!

‘Alien Contact’ takes a fresh approach to the wildlife documentary. We put the methods of scientific investigation to work in combination with some of the story-telling tools of science fiction. Script writer Chris Carter has spent a career imagining contact with extra-terrestrials in his acclaimed television series The X-Files. A lifelong diver, surfer and advocate for protecting our oceans, in ‘Alien Contact’ Chris combines storytelling with ocean adventure and natural history to help us decode some of the secrets of the sea’s most graceful giant.