David Attenborough looks at the world’s coasts – dangerous frontiers ruled by powerful forces, where animals battle to survive amidst constant change.
On South Africa’s Robberg Peninsula, thousands of Cape fur seals squeeze onto a small ledge. A yearling pup escapes to the water, where the clumsy youngster becomes nimble and graceful. In recent years, this coast has attracted unprecedented numbers of great white sharks and the seal colony must band together if they’re to see off the world’s most notorious predator.
The Arctic coast is the scene of the biggest seasonal transformation on Earth, where the melting of billions of tonnes of ice brings short-lived opportunities to coastal waters. Animals arrive on masse, including one of the strangest of all: a sea angel. This beguiling creature has a devilish side – it’s a voracious predator whose ambush wouldn’t be amiss in a sci-fi horror.
On Namibia’s infamous Skeleton Coast, where the world’s oldest desert meets the cold Atlantic, we meet some unexpected residents: hungry lions discover this coast for the first time in 40 years and try their luck at hunting amidst a huge seabird colony.*
Coasts attract visitors from further afield too – a southern right whale reaches her journey’s end at Península Valdés, Argentina, and in British Columbia terrestrial garter snakes take the plunge into chilly waters in search of a meal.
In tropical Raja Ampat, Indonesia, coral reef is sheltered by a forest of Mangrove trees, which are salt-tolerant and rooted in the seabed, providing a unique opportunity for archer fish, which use jets of water like arrows to shoot down insects from high above.
By contrast, the shallow lagoons of Mexico’s Yucatan are very exposed, and it’s here in these hostile, hypersaline pools that Caribbean flamingos choose to nest. But can their offspring survive the tropical storms that have arrived early?
Coasts are the frontline in our changing world, and the increasingly unpredictable storms and sea level rise pose urgent threats to those that make their homes near the coast, including nearly 40% of the world’s human population*.
On the tiny Raine Island, tens of thousands of female green turtles come ashore to nest, but many are stranded by the ebbing tide; the island is on borrowed time, and the world’s largest green turtle rookery is set to disappear beneath the waves. The end of the episode reveals the speed of change since David Attenborough’s first expedition, in 1957. Little could he have known just how much the island would change in 66 years.
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