Seas of Grass • 1984 • episode "5/12" The Living Planet

Category: Nature

Explores the grasses which are present all over the world. Grass sustains huge numbers of creatures the world over, particularly in the African grasslands, where huge numbers of savannah animals have made their homes.

The Living Planet • 1984 • 12 episodes •

The Building of the Earth

Visits the world's deepest valley: the Kali Gandaki river in the Himalayas. Its temperatures range from those of the tropics in its lower reaches to that of the poles higher up. It therefore shows how creatures become adapted to living in certain environments.

1984 • Nature

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.

1984 • Nature

The Northern Forests

Begins in northern Norway, 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Here, there is only just enough light for the pine trees to survive, but it is extremely cold during the winter. Pine cone seeds provide one of the few foods available at this time of year, and large herbivores such as the moose must also rely on their fat reserves.

1984 • Nature


Ascends a kapok in the South American tropical rainforest to observe "the greatest proliferation of life that you can find anywhere on the surface of the Earth. There are two main causes for this: warmth and wetness. As this climate is constant, there are no seasons, so trees vary greatly in their flowering cycles.

1984 • Nature

Seas of Grass

Explores the grasses which are present all over the world. Grass sustains huge numbers of creatures the world over, particularly in the African grasslands, where huge numbers of savannah animals have made their homes.

1984 • Nature

The Baking Deserts

Starts in the Sahara, where the highest land temperatures have been recorded. Rock paintings depict creatures such as giraffes and antelopes, suggesting that at one point there was enough vegetation to support them.

1984 • Nature

The Sky Above

Starts in NASA's gravity research aircraft to illustrate the effect of weightlessness. There are surprisingly many plants whose seeds are, in effect, lighter than air.

1984 • Nature

Sweet Fresh Water

Attenborough describes the course the Amazon, starting high up in the Andes of Peru, whose streams flow into the great river. Young rivers are by nature vigorous and dangerous: they flow fast and form rapids, thick with mud and sediment.

1984 • Nature

The Margins of the Land

Details coastal environments and the effect of tides, of which the highest can be found in the Bay of Fundy in North America. In places, erosion is causing the land to retreat, while in others — such as the tropics — the expansion of mangroves causes it to advance.

1984 • Nature

Worlds Apart

Investigates remote islands and their inhabitants. Some islands are tips of volcanoes; others are coral atolls. Those that colonise them transform into new species with comparative speed.

1984 • Nature

The Open Ocean

Attenborough goes underwater to observe the ocean's life forms and comment on them at first hand.

1984 • Nature

New Worlds

Surveys those environments that have been created by and for humans.

1984 • Nature

You might also like


Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.

2/4Galapagos with David Attenborough • 2010 • Nature

South Korea: Earth's Hidden Wilderness

Once a mountain kingdom of ancient palaces and emperors, Korea in the 21st century is largely known for its modern cities and decades of conflict. Tensions between North and South may be what defines it to outsiders but beyond the battle scars there is another side to Korea. In the south are large pockets of untouched wilderness where extraordinary animals flourish and Koreans continue to practice age-old traditions in tandem with the seasons and with nature. It is in these connections, rather than in division, that we see the true Korea. At the southernmost tip of the peninsular we follow a pod of bottlenose dolphins through the volcanic islands of Jeju. They click at each other as they encounter a human in their midst, but the dolphins know this diver well - they have shared the ocean with the Haenyeo, or sea women, for thousands of years. We travel onwards to the isolated island of Marado, where three generations of sea women are preparing for a dive. Today is the start of the conch season, and they work hard whatever the weather to maximise their catch. In the grounds of an ancient palace on the mainland, a raccoon dog family takes advantage of a rare event. Just once every five years, hundreds of cicadas emerge from below ground providing an easy feast for the raccoon dogs who voraciously fill their bellies. Those that escape their jaws make for the safety of the trees, where they metamorphosise into their flying form. On the mud flats of Suncheon Bay we find a habitat that is neither land nor sea. Only recently has the ecological value of mudflats been recognised. A staggering 50 per cent of the earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton - microscopic algae that are found here in great abundance. That is why the mudflats are known locally as the lungs of the earth. Plankton is far from the only life here - the mud of the bay is rich in nutrients and supports one of the most diverse ecosystems on the peninsula. We follow the story of a young mudskipper who has emerged for his first mating season. His journey to find love is paved with obstacles.

2018 • Nature

Hidden World

For 10,000 years or more, humans created new plant varieties for food by trial and error and a touch of serendipity. Then 150 years ago, a new era began. Pioneer botanists unlocked the patterns found in different types of plants and opened the door to a new branch of science - plant genetics. They discovered what controlled the random colours of snapdragon petals and the strange colours found in wild maize. This was vital information. Some botanists even gave their lives to protect their collection of seeds. American wheat farmer Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel peace prize after he bred a new strain of wheat that lifted millions of people around the world out of starvation. Today, botanists believe advances in plant genetics hold the key to feeding the world's growing population.

3/3Botany: A Blooming History • 2011 • Nature

Giant Squid: Filming the Impossible

David Attenborough narrates this documentary about the giant squid, a creature of legend and myth which even in the 21st century, has rarely been seen in it's natural environment. But now, an international team of scientists think they have finally found their lair, one thousand metres down, off the coast of Japan. This is the culmination of decades of research. The team deploys underwater robots and state of the art submersible vessels for a world first - to find and film the impossible.

Natural World • 2013 • Nature

Coral Seas

Developed over centuries, coral reefs house fragile ecosystems, but they too have to fight to survive.

6/8Blue Planet I • 2001 • Nature

Living Together

Examining some of the weird relationships that develop between species, from birds that relieve clients of hangers-on to hermit crabs that enlist stinging anemones to repel octopuses.

7/12Trials of Life • 1990 • Nature