As we gear up for the release of Discovery Channel’s new documentary "Racing Extinction", the crew has released a small – correction, a very large – snippet from the film: a dive with the biggest creature ever to inhabit our planet. Only a lucky few have experienced encounters like this, and even watching the dive from behind the camera is an emotional experience.

(For the impatient viewers out there, the dive begins at 12:50.)

Only an estimated one percent of the world's original blue whale population still cruises the world's oceans today – though these supersized creatures have begun to bounce back in recent years. 

The team hopes that moments like these, captured on camera on location in Mexico, will help to inspire the next generation to become better stewards of our planet. “My entire career is built on this notion that we can show people something they haven’t seen before in a way that they’ve never visualised – images that make it impossible for people to forget,” director Louis Psihoyos told Wired. "I don’t mind being the guy screaming in the room at this point. If I can tell [the story of extinction] in a beautiful, elegant way and take people on an interesting ride, I’ll scream as loud as I can."

The blue whale's gargantuan proportions – they can reach lengths of up to 103 feet (34.33 metres) – are hard to wrap your head around until you're right beside one. We recently hit the beach in Oregon to check in with scientists working to determine the cause of death of one beached adult male: 

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Top header image: Discovery Channel, GoPro/Screengrab from YouTube