As anticipated, the primary episode of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II has been greeted with rapturous applause. But alongside the gasps of enjoyment at the great thing about the pure world, the programme got here with an pressing message for viewers which we will now not afford to disregard.
Produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit in partnership with the Open University, and narrated by the world’s favorite pure historian, the sequence revisits The Blue Planet after a niche of 16 years.
The sequence does what the BBC’s Natural History Unit does greatest – movies the pure world in a recent and compelling approach utilizing the newest know-how. Blue Planet II permits the viewers to stand up shut and private to an array of extraordinary creatures that rely upon and harness Earth’s huge oceans for his or her survival.
From the depths of the abyss the place daylight is absent and the stress immense, to the wild quickly altering coast, viewers are launched to quite a lot of habitats and aware of outstanding behaviours, a few of which have by no means been filmed earlier than.
An ocean-going journey
The sequence relies round 5 ocean habitats, exploring the world of the animals that stay there and the threats they face. There are many filming firsts: the ingenious tusk fish which makes use of rocks as an anvil to smash clam shells; co-operative searching between bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales; in addition to a large trevally fish that hunts terns by plucking them out of the air. All that and sealions searching as a co-ordinated pack, driving 60kg tuna into the shallows; in addition to coral grouper and reef octopus searching collectively and speaking utilizing gestures – a behaviour often related to apes.
There are additionally behaviours which might be new to science, reminiscent of an octopus that covers itself with shells to create a swimsuit of armour to discourage predators and feminine cuttlefish that flash a white stripe to point to amorous males an unwillingness to mate. Some of those uncovered behaviours show an intelligence that has been vastly underestimated.
As tutorial consultants on the sequence, we have been captivated by the footage that leads viewers into this largely unexplored world from the attitude of the creatures that stay there, capturing fascinating behaviour in beautiful element.
But engaged on it additionally made us acutely conscious how a lot people and the planet stand to lose if we fail to recognise and acknowledge the damaging affect we’re having on the oceans. And it’s this consciousness which makes the timing of Blue Planet II so essential. By revealing the awe-inspiring nature of the oceans in a approach the viewers can join with emotionally, Blue Planet II raises important consciousness of the instant threats going through our oceans and underscores what we stand to lose by ignoring them.
The price of worldwide warming and air pollution
Scientific badysis now overwhelmingly demonstrates that the ocean is altering. Sea floor temperatures have elevated, ranges of dissolved oxygen are declining, sea water has turn into extra acidic and meals provides have declined. The penalties are unsure of their particulars however the rapidity and breadth of adjustments implies that they are going to be profound.
Recent badysis means that greater than half the world’s oceans might endure these a number of results of rising carbon dioxide stage over the following 15 years. By mid-century it’s doable that greater than 80% of oceans could possibly be affected, forcing its inhabitants emigrate, adapt, or in some circumstances, face extinction.
It’s occurring already. Huge swaths of coral reefs all over the world have bleached lately, and two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is affected by coral bleaching. Seagrbad meadows, kelp beds and mangrove forests are among the most efficient habitats on earth, storing huge quantities of carbon – however are additionally among the most threatened. In 2015 and 2016 the worst occasion of mangrove forest die-off ever recorded occurred off the Australian coast.
And that isn’t all. The oceans are going through a significant menace from air pollution – by 2050 it’s predicted that with out important motion there will likely be extra plastic within the oceans than fish. It is estimated that between 4 and 12 metric tons of plastic makes its approach into the oceans every year.
Nearly 700 marine species have been discovered entangled in plastic, and an growing quantity – from microscopic plankton to whales – ingest it, compromising their skill to digest meals, preserve physique situation and provides delivery to wholesome younger. Persistent natural pollution have been discovered 10km down within the Mariana trench, and are ingested by organisms that stay there.
This is the extra critical message that the sequence addresses alongside its spellbinding footage, notably within the last episode that explores the wrestle many species expertise within the face of environmental change brought on by people.
But, there’s additionally a message of hope. Now we perceive extra absolutely the results of our actions we will act to cease or no less than gradual them. Some of the initiatives aimed toward mitigating the injury people have inflicted are highlighted within the last episode.
For instance, overfishing within the 1950s resulted within the collapse of Norway’s herring inventory, however higher regulation and scientific monitoring has led to a spectacular restoration in numbers. Today, there’s sufficient herring for each people and the a whole lot of humpback whales and orcas that feed on them. Ultimately although, retaining our oceans wholesome and functioning correctly would require daring management, motivation and coordinated effort on a world scale.
As Sir David Attenborough succinctly places it: “For the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in its hands.”