The Blue Planet (8 parts)

The definitive story of the blue section of our planet – the oceans – which run from the shores to the open depths of the sea. Programmes include: The Blue Planet, The Deep, Open Ocean, Frozen Seas, Seasonal Seas, Coral Seas, Tidal Seas, Coasts, Making Waves, Deep Trouble.

An epic, eight-part series that took five years to complete, The Blue Planet firmly re-establishes the BBC as the world’s pre-eminent producer of top quality nature documentaries. Exploring every aspect of marine ecosystems, from coastal marshes to deep-sea trenches and from polar waters to tropical reefs, The Blue Planet is thorough and informative, yet never less than thrilling.

01 The Blue Planet
01 The Blue Planet
Every evening, as the sun sets, the largest migration on the planet takes place in the oceans. One thousand million tonnes of deep sea creatures journey up towards the surface in search of food. For a few days each year, a squid spectacle is seen off the Californian coast as millions of squid come up from the deep to breed and lay their eggs. Almost as soon as they appear they disappear back into the deep or die.

The moon’s gravitational pull controls the ebb and flow of the tides. Every year on the coast of Costa Rica there is an extraordinary event called the arribada, which is closely linked to the tides. On a last or first quarter moon, up to 5,000 female Ridley’s turtles hit the beach each hour to lay their eggs in the sand. Over the course of three or four nights, 400,000 turtles come to one beach, just a mile long, and lay an estimated 40 million eggs.

Grey whales take a 12,000 mile round-trip migration from their breeding grounds in Mexico up the entire coast of North America to the Arctic Sea. Off Monterey, California, a grey whale is cruising slowly with her calf and this makes them vulnerable to attack. A 15-strong pod of killer whales takes six hours to run down the calf and drown it. The killers only eat the tongue and lower jaw, but this much energy never goes to waste. The carcass sinks to the bottom of the ocean where it attracts scavengers that live exclusively in the deep oceans.
Free download: Mega

02 The Deep
02 The Deep
A thousand metres down, in the twilight zone, animals play a constant game of hide and seek. Most are transparent, hoping to pass unnoticed. Hatchet fish have flattened bodies and silvered sides that reflect any light and make them invisible. A fish called winteria looks like an underwater bushbaby with its two tubular eyes designed to look up at the surface to spot the silhouettes of potential prey. Below 1,000 metres you enter the dark zone and an alien world. In a world where red light does not exist, dark red jellyfish and shrimps float by, confident that they are almost completely invisible.

Predators here have massive teeth and enormous mouths as food comes along so rarely that they have to grab prey of any size. The hairy angler is the size of a beach ball and its body is covered in long antennae designed to pick out the movements of any prey foolish enough to venture close to its terrifying teeth. The fangtooth has the largest teeth in the ocean for its size – so big it can’t close its mouth. Gulper eels can swallow prey as big as themselves.
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03 Open Ocean
03 Open Ocean
An unfortunate shoal of sardines is first attacked by three-metre-long striped marlin with metre-long, needle-sharp javelins on their heads. The commotion attracts juvenile yellowfin tuna and then a 14-metre Sei whale scoops up the remains. Sir David Attenborough says: “Predators and prey are locked in a deadly three-dimensional contest of hide and seek, played out over immense distances.”

None are better at tracking down food than dolphins. A school of spotted dolphins herd mackerel, but the noise of their sonar attracts one of the most glamorous fish in the sea, a sailfish. With a top speed of over 120km/h, it herds the fleeing fish with its unique sail before gunning them down with ease.
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04 Frozen Seas
04 Frozen Seas
In winter the temperature drops to below -50 degrees centigrade and in Antarctica most animals escape the weather. But emperor penguins stay put and huddle together, incubating their eggs and rearing their chicks in the worst weather on the planet. Weddell seals also remain, keeping their breathing holes open by scraping away the ice with their teeth. In the Arctic, animals that do stay north for the winter are forced to seek refuge in any patches of open water that haven’t frozen over.

Sometimes whales become trapped in these isolated tiny holes in the ice. A group of belugas are 22km from open ocean and it will be two months before the ice melts. They are painfully thin and horribly scarred. Their wounds are not inflicted by the ice but by polar bears that have spotted an easy meal. Aware of the danger, the whales stay submerged as long as they can, but they can only hold their breathe for 20 minutes. Eventually a bear makes a catch.
Free download: Mega

05 Seasonal Seas
05 Seasonal Seas
Just when the weather is at its worst, 100,000 grey seals haul themselves up through the surf on to Sable Island off Nova Scotia. This is the world’s largest colony of grey seals and perversely they’ve come to breed in winter.

Within 18 days the pups are abandoned, but spring is on its way with plenty of food. An eight-tonne basking shark filters 1,000 tonnes of seawater through its gills every hour to sieve out plankton, and large numbers are attracted to plankton blooms.

On the seafloor, seaweed stretches towards the sunlight, and off the coast of California, underwater forests of giant kelp grow up to 100 metres high. Massive schools of fish shelter here and sea otters snooze at the surface winding strands of kelp around themselves as anchors.
Free download: Mega

06 Coral Seas
06 Coral Seas
Life on a coral reef starts with one coral larva which lands in the right place and grows. Soon it’s a coral head, cemented and secure on the seabed. A tiny algae that lives in its tissues allows the coral to grow night and day and as more corals settle, a reef develops. Overcrowding follows as corals expand and soon they’re fighting – digesting their neighbours alive under cover of darkness.

Corals are protected by a hard, limestone skeleton, but bumphead parrot fish bite straight through rock and coral with their powerful jaws. These fish erode the coral and the material they swallow comes out the other end as fine sand. On a single reef they can produce tonnes of sand every year. This soft sand forms beautiful tropical white beaches and eventually creates tropical islands!
Free download: Mega

07 Tidal Seas
07 Tidal Seas
A huge tidal wave, sweeps 200 miles inland up the River Amazon. It’s an event that only happens on key days each month, when the moon and sun combine their gravitational pull to maximum effect. The force of the wave shatters immense rainforest trees.

As the moon orbits the Earth its gravitational pull causes the sea level all over the world to rise and fall. In the Bay of Fundy, Canada, two billion tonnes of water flow in and out each day – more than all the rivers on Earth combined. Five hundred finback whales come here to gorge on the rich herring pickings.
Free download: Mega

08 Coasts
08 Coasts
Each year the entire population of green turtles that live off the coast of Brazil undertakes a massive 5,000-mile migration to the tiny seven-mile-wide island of Ascension, lost in the middle of the Atlantic. How they manage to navigate remains a mystery but each year 5,000 female turtles make it to the island to lay their eggs. After laying three to four clutches of eggs each every two weeks or so, they have to make the return journey to Brazil. The whole cycle takes six months and the turtles do not feed at all during this time.

Four hundred thousand Ridley’s turtles co-ordinate their return to land in a massive simultaneous egg lay called an arribada. It’s hard enough for turtles to drag themselves up the beach but what about fish? Every year, millions of capelin appear along the coasts of Newfoundland. They literally throw themselves out of the sea and for miles the beach is covered with writhing fish. Like the turtles, they are here to lay their eggs.
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