HARSH LESSONS, TOUGH QUESTIONS
The series highlights deep concerns about the health of our oceans and the damage being done to wildlife as a result of climate change and the impact of humans.
In one scene a pilot whale is filmed carrying her dead baby. Scientists believe the death was a result of toxic shock caused by contaminants carried by plastics getting into the mother’s milk.
About eight million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans each year. “Plastic isn’t a universal disaster, rather the way we dispose of it,” Attenborough believes. “We should increase research to counterbalance the benefits we’ve acquired from inventing it.”
Another distressing scene depicts a walrus in the Arctic struggling with her pup to find a patch of ice on which to rest, highlighting the fact that the North Pole has lost up to 40% of its ice in the past 40 years.
“We saw a mom doing everything she could to keep her pup on an iceberg, and we saw them kissing with their whiskers,” producer Jonathan Smith recalls.
He describes working with walruses as “terrifying” – one of them made a sizeable dent in a camera with her tusk – but also says they’re “the most tender, loving creatures” he’s ever come across.
“We’re not out there to campaign,” series producer Mark Brownlow says. “We’re just showing it as it is and it’s quite shocking at times.”