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One ocean. 20,000 islands. 25% of Earths water. The Pacific Ocean is unimaginably vast. The distance between its islands can be huge - literally hundreds or thousands of miles and yet, the Pacific is home to stunning natural beauty and an amazing abundance of some of the most unique wildlife on the planet. Beyond clichéd images of swaying palms and idyllic beaches, filmed in stunning high definition, this is the real, immense, magnificent and astonishing Wild Pacific..
This landmark series explores the sheer scale and majesty of the largest ocean on Earth, the isolation of its islands, the extraordinary journeys wildlife and humans have gone through to reach these specks of land, and what happened to both after their arrival.
What do you know about the South Pacific? The words conjure up images of blue water and swaying palms, idyllic beaches and exotic human histories weve all heard of Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti, but how many people in the Western world could place the Solomon Islands on a map, or have any idea where Vanuatu is? Welcome to the real, immense and surprising South Pacific.
Unimaginably vast, the Pacific is 99% water and only 1% land you could fit the whole of the worlds landmasses into it and still have enough room for another Africa! It stretches from the heat of the tropics to the sub-Antarctic; coral gardens thrive in its warmest waters and icebergs float in its coldest.
The distance between the islands can be huge literally hundreds or thousands of miles yet these were the journeys that plants, animals and people had to make to colonise these remote places, encircled by the ocean.
Isolation does curious things to plants, animals and even people. They evolve and adapt in strange ways. Witness flesh-eating caterpillars, giant crabs capable of opening coconuts, vampire bugs with antifreeze in their veins, geckos that can breed without any need of a male, frogs that have never been tadpoles and the humans that combine hand-made kites and spider webs to catch fish.
In human terms, the ocean journeys of the Polynesians were the most incredible ever taken navigating thousands of miles in just canoes. They had reached Hawaii even before the Vikings launched a ship. The last landmass to be colonised by people was in the South Pacific: New Zealand just 800 years ago!
The Pacific is the most volcanically active region on earth. Islands can emerge without warning from beneath the surface of the ocean only to face a never-ending battle against a relentlessly pounding surf. Stunning time-lapse and aerial shots reveal the processes of the life and death of these atolls.
And what of the future for the South Pacific? Introduced species are running rampant; global warming and rising sea levels will soon inundate islands; the ocean is being over- fished and species like sharks are disappearing. But could the tide be turning?.
1. Ocean Of Islands
The South Pacific islands are the most remote in the world. Their extraordinary isolation has created the most curious, surprising and precarious examples of life found anywhere on Earth, from giant crabs that tear open coconuts to flesh-eating caterpillars that impale their prey on dagger-like claws. Human culture is different too. The men of Pentecost Island celebrate their annual harvest by leaping from 20-metre wooden scaffolds with only forest vines to break their fall. And on the tiny island of Anuta possibly the most remote community of people on the planet the locals survive entirely on what they can grow and catch on their sixth-of-a-square-mile island. The South Pacifics innumerable islands look like pieces of paradise but the reality of life here is sometimes very different, with waves the size of buildings, brutal tropical storms and, in the far South, even blizzards. This is the real South Pacific.
2. Rising Lands
Witness the birth, growth and death of an island in the greatest ocean on Earth. Millions of years are condensed into an hour, revealing unforgettable images of an erupting underwater volcano, rivers of lava exploding below the waves, and roads and houses buried by molten rivers of rock. From these violent beginnings emerge coral reefs of unparalleled richness supporting large groups of grey reef sharks and giant manta rays. The rising lands of the South Pacific have also given life to some very strange creatures, from the vampire bug that thrives in tropical snow to the megapode (a bird that uses volcanic springs to incubate its eggs) and vast swarms of jellyfish trapped forever by a coral mountain.
3. Endless Blue
Much of this remote, blue wilderness is a marine desert. Many animals that live in the ocean (among them sharks, whales and turtles) must go to extraordinary lengths to survive. Tiger sharks travel hundreds of miles to feast on fledging albatross chicks and, every year, sperm whales journey from one side of the South Pacific to the other in their search for food and mates. Theirs is a journey that can end in tragedy. But the South Pacific is not all desert. New Zealands super-rich coast supports huge pods of acrobatic dolphins, its coral reefs are some of the most diverse on Earth, and there are few places richer in wildlife than the quirky Galapagos Islands, home to tropical penguins and surfing sea lions. Using the greatest shipwreck story of all time an event that inspired Moby Dick the huge challenges of survival in this seemingly endless blue ocean are revealed.
In the South Pacific, there is no such thing as a deserted island. They may be the most isolated in the world, but across this vast region every one of its 20,000 islands has been colonised, from New Guinea home to birds of paradise and the tribe whose brutal initiation ceremony turns young warriors into crocodile men to Fiji, from French Polynesia to Hawaii. This is the story of the ultimate castaways (they include saltwater crocodiles, giant eels, crested iguanas and weird frogs) who succeeded against all odds to reach islands thousands of miles apart. These journeys were no mean feats. It has been estimated that an average of one species every 60,000 years made it to Hawaii. Incredibly, many of these colonisers made it to these islands on the back of the most violent forces of nature, like cyclones and tsunamis. The voyages of the South Pacifics first people (the Polynesians) were no less remarkable. These journeys were undoubtedly the greatest acts of navigation ever undertaken, and they changed the nature of the South Pacific forever.
5. Strange Islands
Flightless parrots, burrowing bats, giant skinks and kangaroos in trees On the isolated islands of the South Pacific, the wildlife has evolved in extraordinary ways. But island living can carry a high price, for, when new species arrive, all hell breaks loose. And there lies a puzzle: why do animals perfectly adapted to island life simply give up the ghost? The answer is revealed by the remarkable stories of some unlikely animals that survived on tiny islands off the coast of New Zealand. And the human history of the region is further evidence that, however idyllic it may appear, life on a South Pacific island may never be very far from catastrophe.
6. A Fragile Paradise
The South Pacific is the greatest ocean on Earth. It is still relatively healthy and teeming with fish, but it is a fragile paradise. Like all our oceans, it has little or no protection. So what is being done to preserve this ocean and its wildlife? Countless millions of people rely on the Pacifics fish stocks. It is also home to the planets richest coral reefs and most iconic ocean wildlife: whales, sharks, albatross and tuna (dubbed the cheetah and wildebeest of the fish world). The whales future looks secure, for the moment, but international fishing fleets are taking a serious toll on the sharks, albatross and tuna. And there are other insidious threats to these bountiful seas.
|Run Time:||About 5 hrs|
|Special Features:||BBC Earth|
|Editorial Reviews:||<p>One of the most visually stunning pieces of television Ive seen since Planet Earth - Sunday Express</p>|
|Number of Discs:||2 Discs|
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