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The Great Feast
Every summer in the seas off Alaska humpback whales, sea lions and killer whales depend on an explosion of plant life, the plankton bloom. It transforms these seas into the richest on Earth. But will these animals survive to enjoy the great feast? The summer sun sparks the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic floating plants which can bloom in such vast numbers that they eclipse even the Amazon rainforest in sheer abundance of plant life. Remarkably, it is these minute plants that are the basis of all life here. But both whales and sea lions have obstacles to overcome before they can enjoy the feast. Humpback whales migrate 3,000 miles from Hawaii, and during their 3 month voyage lose a third of their body weight. In a heart-rending scene a mother sea lion loses her pup in a violent summer storm, while another dramatic sequence shows a group of killer whales working together to kill a huge male sea lion.
In late summer the plankton bloom is at its height. Vast shoals of herring gather to feed on it, diving birds round the fish up into a bait ball and then a humpback whale roars in to scoop up the entire ball of herring in one huge mouthful. When a dozen whales work together they employ the ultimate method of co-operative fishing - bubble net feeding. One whale blows a ring of bubbles to engulf the fish and then they charge in as one. Filmed from the surface, underwater and, for the first time, from the air, we reveal how these giant hunters can catch a tonne of fish every day.
Nature Great Events
The Great Tide
A mighty army of dolphins, sharks, whales, seals and gannets hunt down the billions of sardines along South Africa's east coast each winter. This is the Sardine Run: an underwater Armageddon, the greatest gathering of predators anywhere on the planet, and the most spectacular event in the world's oceans. From intimate moments of the creatures caught up in the run, to the dramatic finale of this spectacular event, The Great Tide is an action-packed feeding-frenzy, filmed underwater, on the ocean's surface, and in the air.
However, in recent years the sardine run has become less predictable, perhaps due to the warming effects of climate change. If the sardine run does not happen, the lives of the animals caught up in the drama hang in the balance. Pioneering a unique boat stabilised camera mount for surface filming, Nature's Great Events crew capture all the high octane action as the predators compete for sardines, filmed with aerial, underwater and above water cameras. Super slow motion cameras also capture the very moment gannets plunge into the water, hitting it at sixty miles an hour.
A violent winter storm is the trigger for the sardines to begin their desperate dash. They are followed by a super-pod of 5,000 dolphins and further up the coast more predators gather. A shoal of sardines 15 miles long is pushed into the shallows and aerial shots show thousands of sharks gathering to feed on them. The climax to the sardine run is a spectacular feeding frenzy as the dolphins round the sardines up into balls on which all the predators feast. Gannets rain down in their thousands, sharks pile in scattering the fish and a Bryde's whale lunges in taking great mouthfuls of sardines.
Nature Great Events
The Great Salmon Run
Every year grizzly bear families in North America depend for their survival on a spectacular natural event: the return of hundreds of millions of salmon from the Pacific Ocean to the mountain streams where they were born. The salmon travel thousands of miles to spawn and then die. The great run not only provides food for bears, but for killer whales, wolves, bald eagles, and even the forest itself. The question is: will the salmon return in time to keep hungry bears alive?
A mother grizzly and her cubs emerge from their den high in snowy Alaskan mountains. Filming from the air the team capture a TV first, following the bears as they negotiate a near vertical slope on their journey to the coast where they await the return of the salmon. Meanwhile, the salmon are making their way to the to river mouths where they must swim upstream and against the current. The programme reveals how they tackle the torrents and leap over waterfalls, a feat equivalent to a human jumping over a house. Dozens of hungry bears eagerly await the salmon that make it up river. In another TV first, underwater cameras record the ingenuity and fancy footwork they use to collect dead salmon from the bottom of deep pools.
Nature Great Events
The Great Melt
Every year, around the world, seasonal changes transform entire landscapes and draw in millions of creatures as these great events unfold. This fantastic series combines the epic scale of Planet Earth and the intimate, emotional stories of charismatic animals as they struggle to survive. Using state of the art technology, these programmes capture the Earth's most dramatic and epic wildlife spectacles and the intimate stories of the animals caught up in them.
The Great Melt: The summer melt of Arctic ice, opening up nearly three million square miles of ocean and land, provides opportunities for millions of animals, including beluga whales, families of Arctic foxes, vast colonies of seabirds, and the fabled Arctic unicorn, the narwhal. For polar bears, however, it is the toughest time of year. Why? How will they survive? A mother polar bear and her cub make their first journey together onto the sea ice. They are looking for ringed seals, their favourite prey. It is a serious business but the cub just wants to play. The melting ice makes it harder for them to hunt and threatens their survival. In a unique aerial sequence, the migration of narwhal with their distinctive unicorn-like tusks is filmed for the first time. The whales' journey is risky as they travel along giant cracks in the ice. If the ice were to close above them, they would drown. Hundreds of beluga whales gather in the river shallows. They rub themselves on smooth pebbles in one of the most bizarre summer spectacles. Guillemot chicks take their first flights from precipitous sea cliff nests to the sea 300 metres below. They attempt to glide to safety but many miss their target. Their loss is a bonus for the hungry Arctic fox family waiting below. As the melt comes to an end the bears gather, waiting for the sea to freeze again. Two 400kg males square up to each other to spar.
Nature Great Events
Each year an unbelievable feeding frenzy takes place in the oceans of South Africa as billions of sardines migrate up the KwaZulu-Natal Coast. Wild Ocean captures spectacular breaching whales, feeding sharks, diving gannets, and massive bait balls inside and up close on the screen. The migration has provided an annual food source for both life in the sea and the people living along the African shores for countless generations. The film demonstrates how business, government, and the local people have joined forces to protect this invaluable ecological resource.
The film will delve audiences into an epic underwater struggle for survival and reveal the economic and cultural impact the migration has on the coastal communities. Wild Ocean is an explosive, symphonic documentary film about man and nature which captures one of natures greatest migration spectacles through the magic of IMAX.
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