Gorillas, rhinos, and elephants, three of nature's largest animals, deliver enormous babies. But the immense size of these newborns stands in stark contrast to their vulnerability. Everything from feeding to protection against predators to learning essential life skills falls on one devoted parent: their mothers.
Monterey Bay on California's coast is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world, its giant kelp forest bursting with life, from microscopic plankton to visiting ocean giants. The secret key to success in such a busy microworld is balance. Steve Backshall guides us through the unique geography of the bay and introduces some of its key characters in a quest to find the one species that keeps life in the kelp forest in check.
First transmitted in 1965. David Attenborough continues his journey along the Zambezi River. This episode begins at Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. At the foot of the falls, with its moist climate, a wealth of plants and animals can be found, such as hyraxes. To coax the hyraxes out of hiding, David Attenborough illustrates why taking a dog whistle with you while on an African adventure is a very good idea indeed. Other highlights encountered on the way include an estivating lungfish and a herd of elephants washing and dust bathing at a water hole.Further along his journey David Attenborough explores a Portuguese fortress at Tete, believed to have been built over 400 years ago, and assesses the impact of the then newly constructed Kariba Dam, one of the largest dams in the world, on the displaced Tonga people and surrounding countryside.
The next programme explores the various sea-living invertebrates. In Morocco, the limestones are 600 million years old, and contain many invertebrate fossils. They fall broadly into three categories: shells, crinoids and segmented shells. The evolution of shelled creatures is demonstrated with the flatworm, which eventually changed its body shape when burrowing became a necessity for either food or safety. It then evolved shielded tentacles and the casings eventually enveloped the entire body: these creatures are the brachiopods. The most successful shelled animals are the molluscs, of which there are some 80,000 different species.