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Great Wildlife moments 1

that takes us from the world's oceans to the claustrophobic tangle of this planet's jungles South American sea lions off the coast of Patagonia. They can't give birth while swimming, as whales and dolphins do, but have to come ashore. And here, in dense groups, moving awkwardly between land and sea, they're a great temptation to any hunter that can reach them. Their nursery beach seems secure. On the landward side are steep cliffs, and on the other side the beach is protected by the sea. But the sea itself can harbor enemies. A whale: 30 feet long, eight tons in weight. Every year the same group of a dozen of them assemble off the sea lion nursery to hunt. It's much safer to stay in the shallows if they can. In one or two places, channels enable the whales to get really close to the beach. To get off the beach, the has to thrash its body. No other whale deliberately beaches itself in this way or has perfected this method of getting back to the sea. As long as the sea lions stay well up the beach, you might think they'd be safe, but the hungry whales are very daring. Now several of the whales are hunting in a group. That sea lion was keeping ahead of one whale but was caught by another it probably hadn't seen. This extraordinary wildlife sequence was shot by the BBC Natural History Unit for a major series called "The Trials of Life". It's surely one of the most spectacular wildlife sequences ever filmed.





 
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But it's by no means alone. For the past 50 years, the Natural History Unit has been filming nature at its most dramatic, so that we at home can see the natural world at its most spectacular and its most intimate. But filming such a moment once is not enough. You have to do it from several points of view. It's that that turns a good sequence into an astounding one. Take the whale sequence we've just seen. There were two cameramen involved: Mike DeGruy and Paul Atkins. Paul's job was to get the underwater shots in the channel, an area they called the x zone. Mike's job was equally unenviable. It was to lie in the surf and get shots that give the point of view of the seal of an attacking whale. All this sounds above and beyond the call of duty. But Mike was confident that once the whale recognized he wasn't a seal. It didn't take long for his theory to be tested. A whale rushed in, paused, and then turned away at the last minute. So their carefully judged daring created a moment of television history that made its way into the memory of a generation. There have been many more such moments both before and since. Now, for the first time, they're compiled into one collection. Categorized by regions, it travels from the vast expanses of the world's oceans to the claustrophobic tangle of this planet's jungles, from the skies above to the wide, open spaces below. This collection takes us to places that are still unspool wildernesses, and long may they continue to be so. So, here are the greatest wildlife moments so far. This is Natal, on South Africa's eastern seaboard. It's June, and just offshore strange black patches have appeared. They look like immense oil slicks up to a mile long. But this is a living slick, millions and millions of sardines on a marine migration that, in terms of sheer biomass, rivals that of the wildebeest on the grasslands of Africa. These fish live most of the time in the cold waters south of the Cape, but each year the coastal currents reverse. The warm Agulhas Current that flows from the north has been displaced by cold water from the south, and that has brought up rich nutrients. They in turn have created a bloom of plankton and the sardines are now feasting on it. As the sardines travel north, a whole caravan of predators follow them. Thousands of Cape gannets track the sardines. They nested and timed their breeding so that their chicks can join them in pursuing the shoals. Below water, hundreds of sharks have also joined the caravan. These are bronze whaler sharks, a cold-water species that normally lives much further south. These three-meter sharks cut such great swathes through the sardine shoals that their tracks are clearly visible from the air. Harried by packs of predators and swept in by the action of the waves, the sardine shoals are penned close to the shore. Common dolphins are coming in from the open ocean to join the feast. There are over a thousand of them in this one school. When they catch up with the sardines, the action really begins. Working together, they drive the shoal towards the surface. It's easier for the dolphins to snatch fish up here. Now the sardines have no escape. Thanks to the dolphins, the sardines have come within the diving range of the gannets. Hundreds of white arrows shoot into the sea, leaving long trails of bubbles behind each dive. Next to join the frenzy are the sharks. Sharks get excited when dolphins are around. They can feed particularly well once the dolphins have driven the sardines into more compact groups near the surface. As the frenzy continues, walls of bubbles drift upwards. They're being released by the dolphins, working together in teams. They use the bubbles to corral the sardines into ever tighter groups. The sardines seldom cross the wall of bubbles and crowd closer together. Bubble netting in this way enables the dolphins to grab every last trapped sardine. Just when the feasting seems to be almost over, a Bryde's whale. The survivors head on northwards and the caravan of predators follows them. Some of these islands are virtually unexplored, but the waters in between are a sea of surprises. In mid-afternoon, the elephants take to the ocean. Mahouts guide them through the water by pressing a foot behind the ears. These are working elephants. Sometimes they swim a kilometer or more between islands. This is a family group. If the youngster gets tired, its mother and aunt will be there to support it. The islands are still heavily forested. Elephants are used to haul timber, which is ruthlessly exploited. Despite these alarming pressures, the islands still embrace some of the most pristine expanses of rainforest in India. The November monsoons bring torrential rain to Christmas Island and this triggers one of the most spectacular events in the natural world. All over the island, red crabs are on the move. They appear from everywhere, and they seem to know where they're going. They pour out from the forest, channeled by gullies and other natural pathways, heading for the nearest shore. It's exhausting, especially if there's little to drink, so the legions march mostly while it's cool in the early morning and evening. For them, this migration is an essential journey. Unable to raise their young on land, these crabs must trek several kilometers each year to their ancestral home, the sea. The journey is perilous, for the exodus from the forest along traditional routes brings many of them into an alien world. By early December, the residents of Christmas Island wake up to find crabs on their doorsteps. It may seem like a living nightmare, but most people here carry on regardless, and have learned to work around the invasion of these crustaceans, which you can't even eat. The migrating creatures turn up everywhere and they certainly have no regard for fair play. This golf course even has special rules for when crabs get in on the game. Descend below 1,000 meters and you enter the dark zone. No sunlight whatsoever penetrates this deep. The temperature of the water has dropped below 4 gr. centigrade. The pressure is more than 100 times that at the surface. Life becomes ever more sparse. It's a dark, dangerous world. Relative to body size, these are the largest teeth in the ocean. They're so big that their owner can't even close its mouth. They belong to the fang tooth. Unlike most deep-sea fish, this has powerful muscles and is an aggressive hunter. With food in short supply at this depth, dark-zone predators have to be able to deal with a meal of almost any size. Many animals here are dark red, like this deep-sea jelly. Caught in the lights of the submersible, it's a spectacular firework display of color. Normally, no red light penetrates as deep as this, so animals with red pigment appear completely black down here, perfectly concealed. Dwarfed by the vast expanse of the open ocean, the biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet. A blue whale, 30 meters long and weighing over 200 tons. It's far bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car, and some of its blood vessels are so wide that you could swim down them. Its tail alone is the width of a small aircraft's wings. Its streamlining, close to perfection, enables it to cruise at 20 knots. It's one of the fastest animals in the sea. The ocean's largest inhabitant feeds almost exclusively on one of the smallest: krill, a crustacean just a few centimeters long. Gathered in a shoal, krill stain the sea red, and a single blue whale, in a day, can consume 40 million of them. Despite the enormous size of blue whales, we know very little about them. Their migration routes are still a mystery and we have no idea where they go to breed. They are a dramatic reminder of how much we still have to learn about the ocean and creatures that live there. A few days later, I found Maachli being pursued by Nick again. He's definitely interested in mating. He's much bigger than Maachli, so this is a really risky moment for her. Will she give in and let him mate with her or will she try and fight him off? It looks like she's keeping down, away from Nick, so he can't get behind her and mount her. Nick's really enticed by her scent now. There's a real tension in the air. Nick doesn't look like giving up. They're about to go for each other. Maachli still has the fight in her and it looks like she's managed to wound more than Nick's pride. This gash is going to make it hard for Nick to hunt over the next few days. Strange though it may seem, some plants can move not just their flowers and leaves, but they can travel from place to place. Take, for example, this bramble. Of all the woodland plants, this is one of the most aggressive. It waves its shoots agitatedly from side to side, as if feeling for the best way forward. And when a shoot settles on its course, it thrusts ahead relentlessly. The invading stem's backward-pointing spines give it the grip it needs to climb over almost anything that stands in its way. It can advance as much as three inches in a day. The first Europeans to visit these caves noticed marks like these in the walls and imagined they had been made by ancient Egyptians who came here to mine for gold and precious stones. And, certainly, these grooves do look like the marks made by a pickaxe. But to discover what actually made them, you have to wait until nightfall. We've set up infrared lights that the animals can't see but our cameras can, and I'll be able to keep watch from the safety of a side chamber. The bats are beginning to stir, preparing to leave to search for their food in the night skies outside. In a few minutes' time, it'll be as dark outside as it is in here. Something is moving. Bushbuck. They're looking extremely nervous. And that's why. There's a buffalo close by. They're only a few feet apart, but they can't see one another. You've got to remember that as far as it is concerned, it's in pitch blackness. It seems to be searching for something. It's eating. You can see its throat as it swallows. And it's understandably very nervous and apprehensive. It's licking salt. The bushbuck has heard something. It sounds like distant thunder. It's an elephant. Every foot is being placed very carefully. He bumped his head. Well, no one's perfect. And this deep rumble, this resonating noise that's coming, that's probably a signal to others waiting outside the cave, because he's by himself at the moment. That's the picture from our camera at the cave mouth. The rest of the herd is climbing up to the entrance. How they're managing this steep slope I don't know. There's even a young calf among them. Maybe the male's rumbles were messages to say that all is safe. They're following exactly the same path that the male took. Look how the female's using her trunk to guide her calf over the cave floor. Has she detected one of our cameras? Maybe not, but they clearly know where they're going. The passage here is so narrow that the big male can only just squeeze through. And now I can hear. That noise... He's using his tusks to gouge out the salt, and, of course, it's falling to the ground. So what he does now is use his trunk to sniff it up and then blow it into his mouth. You can hear that too. Elephants must have been coming here for centuries, each generation deepening the cave and passing on to the next its knowledge of the route through the darkness to the precious salt. So the marks near the cave entrance were not made by ancient Egyptians but by elephants. What bird has the most elaborate, the most complex, the most beautiful song in the world? There are lots of contenders, but this bird must be one of them: the superb lyrebird of southern Australia. He clears a space in the forest to serve as his concert platform. To persuade females to come close, he sings the most complex song he can manage, and he does that by copying the songs of all the other birds he hears around him, such as the kookaburra. It's a very convincing impersonation. Even the original is fooled. He can imitate the calls of at least 20 different species. He also, in his attempt to out-sing his rivals, incorporates other sounds that he hears in the forest. That was a camera shutter. And again. And now a camera with a motor drive. And that's a car alarm. And now the sounds of foresters and their chainsaws working nearby. That wonderful performance is only one example of the extent to which male birds will go in order to attract a female. The range and sheer extravagance of their courtship displays can be quite astonishing.

Great Wildlife moments 1 annotations

In the rivers and lakes of Africa Iives an animal which has a reputation for being the most unpredictable and dangerous of all. Even crocodiles are wary. The hippopotamus. Supported by the water, they use less energy than they would on land. Moving requires only a gentle push. They save energy in other ways too. By staying in the water when the sun is high, they keep cool. Should they need to warm up, all they have to do is sunbathe. And so, unlike most mammals, they spend little energy keeping their body temperature constant. The trouble with fishing this early in the season is that the rains are not consistent. Short dry spells leave the stream shallow again. The salmon, still some distance from their spawning grounds, are stuck in rock pools. The time to catch them is when they're leaping over rapids and through channels. If the bear has learnt anything about salmon fishing, it's that when they're in still pools, forget them. So, as every bear knows, you might as well save your energy. There's more than one young bear around, and some lessons have to be learned by way of a mistake. But for this youngster, it's worth checking to see if the other youngster knows something he doesn't. But no.

Great Wildlife moments 1 remarks

A truth is confirmed. In the water, a big land animal is no match for quick slippery fish. But he might be a match for a young white bear. But wait a minute. Having the high ground is an advantage. It does make you feel bigger. And that bear isn't very big, anyway. It's worth trying a threat. It worked. There is a place in the hierarchy besides the bottom. In the Amazon, splash tetras stage a leaping contest. These strange fish out of water lay their eggs on leaves. The males leap to inspect suitable sites. They prefer protected leaves with a surface that's easy to stick to. The leap requires perfect posture. The fish must align itself so it grips the leaf by surface tension as it lands. The male guards his chosen leaf until a female arrives. The pair line up under the leaf and perform the ultimate act of synchronized swimming. As a cue, the female nudges the male with her head, and then a flick of their tails propels them in perfect unison. They are so synchronized, to the human eye they appear as one. The eggs are laid, but the male's work has just begun. He must keep them wet until they hatch.
 
The sardines have come within the diving range of the gannets
The sardines have come within the diving range of the gannets
  The hippopotamus use less energy than they would on land moving requires only a gentle push
The hippopotamus use less energy than they would on land moving requires only a gentle push
  Even in water, a zebra's kick is more than a crocodile can endure
Even in water, a zebra's kick is more than a crocodile can endure

Great Wildlife moments 1 quotes

The splash tetra must have the most labor-intensive childcare of any fish. But his eggs are safer from predators on leaves rather than in the river. After two days of hard splashing, the fry emerge. Within minutes, this nervous herd will fragment into hundreds of individual families, as each stallion attempts to shepherd his mares and foals across. The stallion's responsibility is great, for the powerful current is more than strong enough to wash the smaller foals downriver. But the adults know that navigating the undertow is only part of the battle. There are other more sinister dangers. Crocodiles are everywhere. The migration is the bonanza they've been waiting for. But the zebra are surprisingly well-armed. Even in water, a zebra's kick is more than a crocodile can endure. As each family makes it safely to the other side, its members reassemble in frenzy of greeting. But there are still plenty of targets for the crocodiles, who begin to step up their onslaught.

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Some foals are strong enough to defend themselves in spite of the crocodiles' determination, and many succeed in repelling their attackers. Yet another stallion arrives safely and watches his family run the gauntlet. As he checks them in, he searches for a struggling young mare. When the crocodiles work in pairs, they can deal more efficiently with their victims. In a matter of seconds, the mare is drowned. For this stallion and his family, the price of the crossing has been heavy. Dawn is my favorite time on the river, and this daybreak finds the kingfisher still digging. They still have a problem. The intruder hasn't got the message. She must be desperate. Aerial combat's the first option. They try to chase her away again. At this time of year, females want to avoid injury and will not normally attack each other. But for the homeless female, perhaps this is her last chance. I watched them pose, sizing each other up, pushing their necks out and fattening their bodies.

Great Wildlife moments 1 reviews

Neither will yield. In rare cases, kingfishers try to drown each other, but in 15 years of watching them, I've only ever seen it once. This female is not giving up. I was about to witness the most startling drama I've ever seen on the river. This is it, to the death. I soon lost track of which one was my bird. I'd no idea how much longer they could last in the water without drowning. A mink. I thought it was an otter when it burst out from the bank. One kingfisher had dived to safety, but which one? It was impossible to tell. The mink had been waiting in ambush, hidden, even from me, almost certainly attracted by the kingfishers' frantic whistling. She stashed the first bird and returned, sure that there was another. But one kingfisher got lucky.

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