|2001 UK Blue Planet|
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.
"A blue whale, 30 metres long and weighing over 200 tonnes. It's far bigger than even the biggest dinosaur," says David Attenborough. Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant and its heart is the size of a car. Some of its blood vessels are so wide that a human could swim down them. This is the largest animal that has ever lived, and yet absolutely nothing is known about where it goes to breed. The blue whale is the perfect symbol for the oceans - a vast blue expanse that dominates the planet yet remains largely unexplored and mysterious. Every summer on the eastern coast of South Africa, a living black 'slick' of millions of sardines is whipped up by the coastal currents. It attracts thousands of cape gannets, hundreds of bronze whaler sharks and thousands of common dolphins. As the predators gorge, the dolphins work together and release walls of air bubbles that corral the sardines into tight bait-balls for an easy catch. A Bryde's whale appears and polishes off the feast.
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.