My Octopus Teacher • 2020

Category: Nature
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A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.

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The Secret Life of Pigeons

As the first animal to be domesticated, pigeons have a story to tell. A drama filled, steeped-in-history, amazing story. Although they’ve faded into the background of city life, pigeons have made an incredible contribution to human history. For centuries, we relied on them for everything from food, to vital communications, to entertainment to modern day brain science. They deserve more respect! The ones you see on city streets today are the descendants of domestic birds. Their gritty urban lives are spent trying to evade all manner of perils…and… stay one step ahead of starvation, a constant threat. To survive where they’re not wanted, pigeons rely on a combination of charity from a few and their own incredible smarts…. In a series of fascinating experiments and carefully placed cameras, we take you inside their perilous world; in the air, on the street and in the nest. One of the first things to notice is just how incredibly smart they are.

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Commuters

More than a billion people around the world commute into cities each day, and they are not alone. The world's wildlife is commuting too. A steady flow of animals journey in and out of cities to find food and shelter or to start a family. Leaving the wilderness they must overcome the unique challenges that the urban world throws at them to benefit from the opportunities on offer. This episode explores whether the secret to an animal's success in this fast-changing world is to keep one foot in the wild and one in the city, becoming a wild commuter. It seems that all over the world animals are finding that the city can offer opportunities that are harder to come by in the natural world. Some, like African penguins, whose population has plummeted by 80 per cent in the last 50 years, find shelter in the city. By nesting in Cape Town they are safer from predators, and with relatively easy access to their fishing grounds they have the best of both worlds. Many other animals commute into cities because they are filled with food. In St Lucia, South Africa, that includes hippos. Able to eat up to fifty kilograms of grass in a single sitting, they have developed a taste for the short, manicured lawns and come to town every night to dine out. St Lucia's human residents have learnt to give the hippos the space they need during their night-time raids. Black bears need to eat more than 20,000 calories a day to survive their six-month hibernation through winter, and using their acute sense of smell they can easily track down leftovers. In North America they come into towns and cities in search of food. Many animals displaced from their natural habitat are now using their wild skill set in the city to help fulfill their needs. Could this be the beginning of a new and very modern migration?

2/3Cities: Nature's New Wild • 2018 • Nature

Dung Dynasty

During the rainy season in Africa, a herd of buffalo can create thousands of pounds of waste in a day, which would be an environmental disaster if not for the dung beetle. These extraordinary insects depend on waste to survive. They eat it, attract mates with it, and raise families in it. Although dung beetles are critical to the ecosystem, they don't have it easy. Every day, they must avoid being trampled, evade predators like bullfrogs, honey badgers, and rock monitor lizards, and rival dung beetle families desperate for the same fecal prize.

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The Frozen World

Describes the inhospitable habitats of snow and ice. Mount Rainier in America is an example of such a place: there is no vegetation, therefore no herbivores and thus no carnivores. However, beneath its frosty surface, algae grow and some insects, such as ladybirds visit the slopes. Africa’s mountains are permanently snow-covered, and beneath peaks such as Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, there are communities of plants and animals.

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Meet the Moose Family

In the wilds of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a mother moose tends to her newborn calf. Spring is in full swing, but this far north, winter is never far away and, with hungry bears and wolves for neighbours, many challenges lie ahead. Local cameraman Hugo Kitching knows this only too well, but he is determined to follow the mother and calf through the four seasons. What unfolds is a very intimate story, and when Hugo finds a second moose calf born late in the year, things take an unexpected and dramatic turn.

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New Giants

This episode of the documentary series focuses on the new giants, the heavyweights of the dinosaur world. It is only in recent years that experts have unearthed the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived. One monster eclipsed all others; more than seven times as heavy as diplodocus was the immense argentinosaurus - a single backbone was bigger than a human. For years, these giants were considered immune to attack from any predator - until the discovery of mapusaurus, a new giant killer whose fate appeared to be inextricably linked to argentinosaurus.

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