Fly across iridescent tropical reefs, brush through a cloud of a million jellyfish, visit an alien world where the closer you look, the more you see, where the tiniest creatures support the greatest predators... We think of reefs as exotic, distant places with little or no connection to our everyday world. Yet every reef is a living city beneath the sea with a parallel existence to ours, distant yet undeniably connected. Reefs are hotspots of biodiversity as vital to life on earth as the rain-forests. They have been shaping our shorelines, literally forming islands and mountains, for millions of years. The fossil record shows that given time they have recovered from all of earth's major extinction events. Even reefs pulverised by atomic blasts at Bikini Atoll have regenerated. Yet within our lifetime reefs have come to face their greatest threat...
Follows the epic operation to secure, raise, and salvage the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground and tragically capsized off the coast of Italy on January 13th 2012, killing 32 people. The wreck stretches the length of three football fields, weighs 45,000 tons, and lies half submerged on the site of a protected reef, with a 160-foot-long hole in its hull. Moving it from its precarious perch on the edge of an underwater cliff will be a huge technical and logistical challenge. Joins a team of more than 500 divers and engineers working around the clock as they attempt the biggest ship recovery project in history.
The extraordinary wildlife, culture and history of this immense, fascinating ocean and its myriad islands are revealed in stunning detail. With its coral reefs, turquoise lagoons and dramatic oceanic atolls, the South Pacific is the archetypal paradise. It is still relatively healthy and teeming with fish, but it is a fragile paradise. International fishing fleets are taking a serious toll on the sharks, albatross and tuna, and there are other insidious threats to these bountiful seas. We look at what is being done to preserve the ocean and its wildlife.
The documentary deals with the future of conservation. It begins by looking at previous efforts. The 'Save The Whales' campaign, which started in the 1960s, is seen to have had a limited effect, as whaling continues and fish stocks also decline. In the 1990s, as head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Richard Leakey took on the poachers by employing armed units. Although it was successful in saving elephants, the policy was detrimental to the Maasai people, who were forced from their land. The need for "fortress" areas is questioned, and the recently highlighted Raja Ampat coral reef in Indonesia is an example. The more tourism it generates, the greater the potential for damage — and inevitable coastal construction. Sustainable development is viewed as controversial, and one contributor perceives it to currently be a "contradiction in terms". Trophy hunting is also contentious. Those that support it argue that it generates wealth for local economies, while its opponents point to the reducing numbers of species such as the markhor. Ecotourism is shown to be beneficial, as it is in the interests of its providers to protect their environments. However, in some areas, such as the Borneo rainforests, the great diversity of species is being replaced by monocultures. The role of both religion and the media in conservation is argued to be extremely important. Contributors to the programme admit a degree of worry about the future, but also optimism.
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