A thousand years ago, many millions of whales dominated the sea, with their ancient behaviours vital to the well-being of the oceans. These marine mammals are the ambassadors between one world and another, land and sea, their close communities only now being truly researched and understood. They are still a keystone species in our fragile ecosystem today, with crucial impact on our seas and the life contained within them. But whaling decimated their numbers over the last 150 years, in particular the whaling industry run by the KGB during the Cold War. In a basement in Odessa, top-secret Soviet whaling reports record the unimaginable number of whales killed. This film tells how surviving members of the Soviet leadership, and original Soviet whalers, uncover these secret records, allowing us to understand the magnitude of historical whale populations and the shocking impact of commercial whaling. Whale populations are now largely cherished across the world as we begin to understand these amazing animals, their intelligence and their important contribution to the sustainability and health of the oceans.
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Mammals dominate the planet. They do it through having warm blood and by the care they lavish on their young. Weeks of filming in the bitter Antarctic winter reveal how a mother Weddell seal wears her teeth down keeping open a hole in the ice so she can catch fish for her pup. A powered hot air balloon produces stunning images of millions of migrating bats as they converge on fruiting trees in Zambia, and slow-motion cameras reveal how a mother rufous sengi exhausts a chasing lizard. A gyroscopically stabilised camera moves alongside migrating caribou, and a diving team swim among the planet's biggest fight as male humpback whales battle for a female.
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.
In the final challenge of the game of life, raising offspring is the ultimate prize. Continuing the line through the next generation, is the next best thing to immortality. But it’s far from easy... Some parents must risk their own lives for their offspring.
This episode looks at Africa's mountain ranges. From the giant mole rats of the Ethiopian Highlands to the Barbary Macaque monkeys of the Atlas Mountains, this episode gives a fascinating look at the mountains of Africa and the animals that inhabit them.