During summer, the Atlantic coast of the northeastern United States attracts huge amounts of fish and wildlife. Particularly interesting are the basking sharks, the world’s second-largest fish, and the leatherback sea turtles, which weigh one ton and are the world’s largest reptile.
Our body is a true time machine. It is a mirror of the history of the living world. If an engineer today had to fabricate the ideal human, he would most likely not design us the way we are currently made. He would go to the most logical, the most efficient, the most rational; and when you look closely, this is not always what characterizes us.
It is high summer in the Polar Regions, and the sun never sets. Vast hordes of summer visitors cram a lifetime of drama into one long, magical day; they must feed, fight and rear their young in this brief window of plenty. Summer is a tough time for the polar bear family, as their ice world melts away and the cubs take their first swimming lesson. Some bears save energy by dozing on icy sun beds, while others go egg-collecting in an Arctic tern colony, braving bombardment by sharp beaks. There are even bigger battles on the tundra; a herd of musk oxen gallop to the rescue as a calf is caught in a life and death struggle with a pair of Arctic wolves. But summer also brings surprises, as a huge colony of 400,000 king penguins cope with an unlikely problem - heat. The adults go surfing, while the woolly-coated chicks take a cooling mud bath. Nearby, a bull fur seal is prepared to fight to the death with a rival. Fur flies as the little pups struggle desperately to keep out of the way of the duelling giants. Further south, a minke whale is hunted amongst the ice floes by a family of killer whales. The dramatic chase lasts over 2 hours and has never been filmed before. The killers harry the minke whale, taking it in turns to wear it down. Eventually it succumbs to the relentless battering. Finally, comical adelie penguins waddle back to their half a million strong colony like clockwork toys. The fluffy chicks need constant feeding and protection as piratical skuas patrol the skies. When an unguarded chick is snatched, a dramatic "dogfight" ensues.
Our planet was once populated by megafauna, big top-of-the-food-chain predators that played their part in balancing our ecosystems. When those megafauna disappear, the result is a "trophic cascade," where every part of the ecosystem reacts to the loss. How can we stay in balance? George Monbiot suggests rewilding: putting wolves, lions and other predators back on top -- with surprising results.
Colin Stafford-Johnson journeys through one of the most bewitching islands in the world, featuring the wildlife and wild places that make it so special. In the first part of this two-part mini-series, Colin explores corners of Cuba that few outsiders have seen. Amongst the wonders he encounters is the bee hummingbird, the world’s tiniest bird, found nowhere else on the planet, and the spectacle of thousands of crabs migrating en masse.