Sir David on coral reefs

sir david at­ten­bor­ough re­veals the won­ders of coral reefs…

TV Times - - Contents - Blue Planet II SUN­DAY / bbc1 / 8.00Pm Caren Clark

This week’s episode of the won­der­ful wildlife se­ries sees

Sir David At­ten­bor­ough pro­file the colour­ful and var­ied species that make their home in the world’s coral reefs. Here are seven of his ex­tra­or­di­nary dis­cov­er­ies…

1 Co­rals are an­i­mals that are sim­i­lar to anemones. Al­though reefs cover less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, they pro­vide a home to a quar­ter of all known ma­rine species.

2 The sad­dle­back clown­fish lives in­side car­pet anemones. One male is shown hunt­ing for an ex­tra safe place for his mate to lay eggs. ‘The fe­male can’t lay eggs on the anemone’s soft ten­ta­cles, so the male finds an empty co­conut shell and pulls it back to the safety of the anemone,’ says Sir David. ‘He strug­gles but there’s tri­umph on his little face.’

3 Some fish use sign lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate. A coral grouper that’s too big to catch smaller fish hid­ing in rocks is seen col­lab­o­rat­ing with the com­mon oc­to­pus by go­ing white and do­ing a head­stand over the fish’s lo­ca­tion so that the oc­to­pus can help to flush it out.

4 The me­tre-long Bob­bit hides in the sand to snare its prey, but mon­o­cle breams blow wa­ter on the sand to ex­pose where the worm is lurk­ing.

5 Ado­les­cent bot­tle-nosed dol­phins play to­gether by drop­ping pieces of coral and catch­ing them as they fall. This helps them to de­velop co-or­di­na­tion when they hunt.

6 Footage from the air sees manta rays swarm­ing to­gether in large groups to cre­ate a ‘cy­clone’ to help them suck in a glut of plank­ton.

7 In­di­vid­ual co­rals grow over thou­sands of years and col­lec­tively they have built the planet’s largest liv­ing struc­ture – the Great Bar­rier Reef in Aus­tralia. How­ever, the grad­ual rise in tem­per­a­tures in trop­i­cal waters causes al­gae in the coral’s tis­sue to be ejected. Cam­eras show how, once it has lost this source of nu­tri­tion, the coral be­comes bleached and dies. Half of the world’s reefs have been af­fected by bleach­ing in re­cent years.

De­ter­mined: The sad­dle­back clown­fish

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