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Six Gill sharks attack submarine Blue Planet

“I’m a little bit afraid,” said one of the researchers. Image: BBC Screenshot/Blue Planet II

The Inertia

A crew filming for the BBC documentary series “The Blue Planet II” were rattled when enormous sharks begin bumping their submersible.

The team had been filming the sixgill sharks devouring the carcass of a sperm whale on the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 750m. They estimated that some of the sharks were up to 6 meters long.

At first, the sharks seem uninterested in the film crew, but they soon turn on the sub, bumping it with their noses, perhaps viewing it as unwelcome competition for food.

This clip is just one excerpt from the second series of The Blue Planet. The first series aired to great acclaim back in 2001, and the follow-up is typically fascinating and beautifully produced. Apparently, it’s been so popular in China that it slowed down the entire country’s internet and has attracted over 80 million viewers.


In the tradition of other BBC productions featuring Sir David Attenborough, such as the Life series and Planet Earth I & II, Blue Planet II really is the gold standard of nature documentary filmmaking.

Episode one is called “One Ocean” and gives a glimpse into some incredible creatures, presents stunning new facts, and debuts ground-breaking film techniques.

There’s the giant Trevally fish, which Attenborough explains: “amazingly, has a brain capable of calculating the airspeed, altitude, and trajectory of a bird” in order to leap out of the water and swallow birds whole. There’s the Tusk fish which uses tools. There’s the Asian Sheepshead Wrasse that changes sex! And there’s Phytoplankton, which produce as much oxygen as all the land-based plants on Earth.

And there’s a beautiful section about dolphins, filmed surfing in South Africa. Of this, Attenborough says: “Dolphins surf to strengthen friendships, develop skills, and for the sheer exhilaration of it.” Sound like bloody good reasons to me.

On the subject of waves, Attenborough says that “one large storm can produce (in waves) the energy equivalent to 10,000 nuclear bombs”. That’s a bit hard to wrap your head around!

The Blue Planet II took 4 years to make, and you can see why. They have sought and captured some extraordinary stories from the waterworld that covers 70% of our planet. When it comes down to it, the true drama and theatre is not in human beings and the fictions that we strive to create, but in the natural world that surrounds us.

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