Slow-mo attack scenes and death-defying escapes, armies of spider crabs shedding their shells, a mother whale grieving her dead calf: these are just a few of the intimate scenes we’ve come to expect from BBC’s Blue Planet. Traditionally, the series steered away from images of ocean destruction, caused by climate change, acidification and plastic pollution, choosing instead to immerse viewers in high-definition beauty shots of the ocean. But not this time.
In the final episode of the second installment, Blue Planet 2 turns its lens on the myriad problems plaguing the ocean. In an interview with The Guardian, series producer Mark Brownlow says that the harm humans were causing had simply become too big to ignore: “We just couldn’t ignore it — it wouldn’t be a truthful portrayal of the world’s oceans. We are not out there to campaign. We are just showing it as it is and it is quite shocking.”
Sir David Attenborough, the beloved naturalist who narrates the show, warned that the ocean is facing the greatest threat in history.
“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong,” Attenborough told The Guardian. “It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans. [They] are under threat now as never before in human history. Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point.”
From Coral Bleaching to Plastic-Eating Albatrosses
The canvas is vast when it comes to depicting the ocean’s troubles, but Blue Planet 2 episode managed to cover many of the main scourges. The film crew arrived on the Great Barrier Reef during one of the worst coral bleaching events of 2016. Everywhere the crew went, it found plastic. Some of the footage was so devastating that it had to be left out of the broadcast, like that of albatross chicks dying from ingesting plastic. While BBC worried about politicizing Blue Planet with mentions to climate change, leaving out humanity’s impact on the world’s greatest ecosystem would have been a serious omission. Because the conclusion is clear: the ocean needs our help.