The BBC’s landmark series on marine wildlife continues with this pair of uncommonly beautiful episodes.
“Seasonal Seas” focuses on the explosion of life that accompanies every annual blooming of plankton, numbering in the countless billions and captured here with brilliant microphotography. The plankton provide a seasonal feast for a stunning variety of creatures, including the gigantic basking shark, sea otters, immense swarms of jellyfish, bat rays, and dancing Australian squid. In massive kelp forests, we witness such delightful sights as white-sided dolphin playing a game of “pass the seaweed.”
In “Coral Seas” miles-long reefs of living coral are explored, from deep within (requiring brief computer animation) to the surrounding environs, where you’ll see white-tipped sharks in a feeding frenzy while beautiful harlequin shrimp wrestle with a starfish.
“Tidal Seas” explores the myriad life forms that thrive when lunar gravity pulls the oceans offshore. These include surfing snails, diving osprey, breeding stingray, and bottlenose dolphin digging for razorfish in the shallow tidal flats. In a delightful time-lapse sequence, sand bubbler crabs clean an entire beach for food, leaving millions of filtered sand balls in their paths.
“Coasts” is easily the most brutal episode, but no less mesmerizing. Here we witness the battles of elephant seals, the tenacity of Galapagos iguanas, and the mating rituals of the walrus. Surely the most unexpected, and horrifying, sequence is that of the orca, earning its “”killer whale”” nickname by capturing, killing, and tail-tossing a seal pup–a performance so mysteriously primal that even the most seasoned marine biologist will be utterly amazed. Stunningly photographed, The Blue Planet: Seas of Life represents a filmmaking legacy that will reward viewers for many years to come. –Jeff Shannon