blue planet whales

The Blue Planet

The blue whale is a perfect symbol for the oceans: the vast blue expanse that dominates our planet whilst still remaining largely unexplored and mysterious. Yet the oceans are an integral part of our lives. Their influence dominates the world's weather systems. They support an enormous range of life, from the largest whales to the smallest plankton, from hordes of sea birds to lonely, deep-sea fish. All this is governed by a complex system of biological and physical forces. This first episode demonstrates the sheer scale, power and complexity of the 'Blue Planet'.

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The Deep

A place of mountain ranges, perpetual night, pressure extremes and cold... and the weirdest life forms on our planet. A true voyage into the unknown with constant surprises in store. Fish with grotesquely cavernous mouths and cruel teeth lurk one kilometre below the surface. Any light is living light, but a glow in the dark may be meant to attract the opposite sex, unless it is the deep-sea angler fish who already has her mate conveniently fused to the end of her nose. On the floor of the ocean deep, all manner of primitive creatures crawl across the ooze.

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Open Ocean

A void. Endless blue stretches in every direction. The sea bed is a staggering eight kilometres deeper down and the nearest island is 500 kilometres away. There is nothing save the burning sun above and the blackened abyss below. How, then, does life exist? Finding the only shelter under floating matter, half-moon fish pick off parasites from the bizarre three-metre-long sun-fish; loggerhead turtles pause to nibble particles on a log; huge schools of sardine, yellow-tails and trigger-fish bring the number sheltering under the flotsam to their thousands.

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Frozen Seas

Life on the edge of a frozen sea is tough. Pack-ice at both poles is constantly on the move, and in winter freezes solid with air temperatures 70°C below freezing. Only in spring, with the retreating ice and light reaching the water, does life begin again. Plankton blooms and feeds vast hordes of migrating fish, birds, whales, seals and polar bears. Walruses rake the seabed for clams. Minke and humpback whales gorge themselves on gigantic swarms of krill. But it is a brief indulgence, for the ice soon returns and pushes life back into the ocean.

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Coral Seas

Bathed in warm, clear tropical water and brilliant sunlight, coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. Surrounded by ocean deserts they are rich oases of life. Spectacular numbers make it necessary to stand out to survive.This competition is highly visible as brightly coloured fish compete for food, territory and mates. But the corals themselves are also dynamic. Incredible time-lapse photography shows the dramatic formation of a coral reef, portraying its myriad inhabitants and its ultimate destruction.

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Seasonal Seas

Shafts of sunlight radiate through a green sea. This blazing light is the vital source of energy used by the countless billions of plankton which grow every spring and summer in the world's temperate sea, the richest of all habitats. Forests of giant kelp, the fastest growing plant in the world, harbour thousands of animals. Sharks move in to pick off the vulnerable. Sea otters, brilliantly coloured anemones, squid and exquisite leafy dragons are just a few of the other creatures that live in this cool, rich water.

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