Summer is the season of plenty for most animals, but not polar bears. Unable to hunt seals until the sea freezes over again, they grow hungrier by the day. For other animals summer is when youngsters must learn how to survive.
The Great Butterfly Hunt tells the story of incredible journeys. The first is that of the remarkable Monarch migration, which is the longest insect migration on Earth, is. The second story is that of Fred Urquhart, the determined Canadian scientist who spent 40 years trying to discover exactly where the butterflies mysteriously disappeared when they flew south for the winter. The Great Butterfly Hunt is a beautiful and colourful one-hour program that combines the spectacular visuals from Flight of the Butterflies with the production’s behind-the-scenes look at how such films get made. On Thursday, January 2, when many Canadians will be groaning about the long grey winter ahead, The Great Butterfly Hunt will remind audiences of the promise of spring. And, at a time when the monarch population is in rapid decline, viewers will have an opportunity to watch one of Nature’s most dramatic feats unfold.
Reptiles and amphibians look like hang-overs from the past. But they overcome their shortcomings through amazing innovation. The pebble toad turns into a rubber ball to roll and bounce from its enemies. Extreme slow-motion shows how a Jesus Christ lizard runs on water, and how a chameleon fires an extendible tongue at its prey with unfailing accuracy. The camera dives with a Niuean sea snake, which must breed on land but avoids predators by swimming to an air bubble at the end of an underwater tunnel. In a TV first, Komodo dragons hunt a huge water-buffalo, biting it to inject venom, then waiting for weeks until it dies. Ten dragons strip the carcass to the bone in four hours.
The Maldives are the lowest country in the world-and getting lower, due to rising sea levels. Especially at risk is the island's reef system, the biggest in the Indian Ocean, with over 200 types of coral and thousands of tropical fish species. Witness the race to preserve this marine paradise from the ravages of climate change.
There are 200 million insects for each of us. They are the most successful animal group ever. Their key is an armoured covering that takes on almost any shape. Darwin's stag beetle fights in the tree tops with huge curved jaws. The camera flies with millions of monarch butterflies which migrate 2000 miles, navigating by the sun. Super slow motion shows a bombardier beetle firing boiling liquid at enemies through a rotating nozzle. A honey bee army stings a raiding bear into submission. Grass cutter ants march like a Roman army, harvesting grass they cannot actually eat. They cultivate a fungus that breaks the grass down for them. Their giant colony is the closest thing in nature to the complexity of a human city.