The Blue Planet: Seas of Life --
Tidal Seas & Coasts

produced by Alastair Fothergill
(Discovery Channel/BBC, 2001)

This continuation of the excellent series The Blue Planet: Seas of Life contains some of the most violent, disturbing images from nature that I have ever seen.

This, the fourth collection of episodes from the BBC/Discovery Channel series, focuses on tidal seas and coastlines. In the latter of two complete episodes, there are scenes of a concentrated hunt by orcas, who ram their massive, streamlined bodies to shore to catch and eat sea lion pups. While any real examination of wildlife must include scenes of consumption, this is the first time I've seen proof of true cruelty among any creatures but mankind.

The killer whales aren't content simply to capture and eat their prey. In this startling footage, a pair of orcas toss a still-living sea lion between them like a beach ball, catching it in their teeth before hurling it again and again into the air. Even after its death, the orcas continued tossing the body to lofty heights with their tails -- a behavior the marine biologists involved in the filming were unable to explain.

Disturbing, yes. But this fourth volume in the series continues the standard of cinematographic excellence set by earlier episodes. From tiny shrimp to massive whales, from industrious crabs and surfing snails to belligerent elephant seals and amorous walruses, the creatures depicted here are brought to startling life for viewers safe and dry in their living rooms. I can guarantee you'll see things you've never seen or imagined before in this spectacular pair of films narrated by David Attenborough and scored by George Fenton.

An extra bonus on the DVD, besides the usual "making of" featurettes, is "Deep Trouble," a provocative, full-length documentary on the consequences of current fishing practices on the oceans and its once thriving life. Without preaching, this bonus episode lays out the facts with chilling candor; it's certainly enough to make you question our stewardship of this planet.

Oddly, the "making of" featurette accompanying "Tidal Seas" deals with material not included in the episode. The featurette with "Coasts," on the other hand, provides striking footage of the crew's efforts to capture two very different orca hunts on film.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 10 August 2002

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