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Frozen South

   2022    Nature
Antarctica is the most hostile of all earth’s frozen worlds. Yet even here, amongst some of the most challenging conditions on the planet, life finds a way not just to survive, but thrive.
Our journey begins at the far edge of the continent, on its far-flung sub-Antarctic islands. Here we meet king penguins that, to feed at sea, must face the danger of ferocious leopard seals lurking in the shallows. On another island, we witness for the first time male Antipodean wandering albatross partnering up with each other as the females in their population are disappearing due to fishing activity.
Heading towards the continent of Antarctica, we traverse the roughest seas on earth - the Southern Ocean - where we find the rarely filmed Antarctic blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived. At the edge of Antarctica, the sea is so cold that it freezes over, creating a vital ice platform for a mother Weddell seal to raise her precious pup. Still, she needs to protect him from aggressive males.
In spring, the coast of Antarctica is free of snow, drawing in thousands of breeding chinstrap penguins. Stones are at a premium to build their elevated nests and protect chicks from meltwater. But stealing is commonplace, and to make matters worse, with climate change we find chicks today shivering with hypothermia – a warming Antarctica means increased meltwater. Other residents are facing an uncertain future too, including wave-washing killer whales. We discover that their favourite prey, Weddell seals, are now harder to reach, so instead they are resorting to targeting much more feisty prey, including leopard seals, an apex predator in its own right. This dramatic encounter has never been filmed before.
Travelling into the interior of the continent - into the frozen heart of Antarctica - we find great surprises. This is one of the most volcanic regions on earth, and one of the driest. We reveal unexpected sand dunes, hidden in a rare ice-free valley. Then, on the exposed mountain tops, sticking out from the otherwise ice-covered interior, we find tiny snow petrels, which raise their chicks further south than any other bird, and defend their territory by projectile vomiting!
The greatest revelation lies deep in the interior, beneath the surface of an ice-covered lake, where we discover ancient alien-like structures - giant stromatolites - built by primitive lifeforms. If life can make it here, in the extremes of Antarctica, it raises the possibility that life can exist elsewhere, including in the frozen lakes of distant planets.
Series: Frozen Planet II

Frozen Planet II: Frozen Worlds

   2022    Nature    HD
Journeying from pole to pole, The series 'Frozen Planet II' reveals surprising worlds that exist across the planet and the remarkable animals that make them their home. In a fragile world of beauty and hostility, nature finds a way to survive and thrive. David Attenborough explores a planet on the brink of major change.
In the first episode, we begin our journey in the far south, in the most hostile place on earth, the frozen continent of Antarctica. After being raised on the ice in winter, emperor penguin chicks find themselves abandoned by their parents in spring. To survive, they must find their own way across the treacherous sea ice to the rich waters of the Southern Ocean.
The waters surrounding Antarctica may be the richest of all, but they are also home to an exceptionally sophisticated predator, the killer whale. To reach their favored prey, Weddell seals, a family of killer whales have learnt to generate their own waves, washing the seals off their ice floes. It’s a technique that has been passed down over generations and is coordinated by the family matriarch, who can be over 100 years old.
Leaving Antarctica and travelling north, we discover frozen habitats that are created by altitude. The greatest of these is the Himalaya, the tallest mountain range on earth, which contains so much ice and snow it is known as the third pole. In the shadow of the Himalaya lies a vast frozen grassy plain that is home to the fluffiest cat in the world, Pallas’s cat. It may have extremely dense fur, but if it’s to survive the Mongolian winter, it needs to catch lots of gerbils and voles. Easier said than done when you only have short legs and paws that are sensitive to the cold.
North of the Great Steppe lies the boreal forest, which encircles the continents of North America, Europe and Asia, and remains frozen for six months of the year. Prowling these forests in the far east of Russia is the Siberian tiger, the largest cat in the world. In winter, it is on the lookout for black bears hibernating in caves, a high-risk strategy that only a cat of this size would attempt.
Above the boreal forest, we cross into the Arctic Circle, where conditions become so extreme that trees can no longer grow. This is the tundra. Living here are relics of the last ice age, musk ox. In spring, their calves face a far greater danger than the cold, grizzly bears. Encounters can be brutal, but if just a few calves survive the gauntlet, the herd’s future is secure.
To the north of the tundra is the Arctic Ocean, the only ocean that can completely freeze over. Living here is one of the most peculiar animals on earth, the hooded seal. Males have extraordinary inflatable noses, producing a bright red balloon out of their left nostrils. One male hopes this will make him irresistible.
All of the frozen habitats share one thing in common: the threat posed by today’s climate change. Travelling to the island of Greenland, home to the largest body of ice in the northern hemisphere, we witness how global warming is melting its ice cap at faster rates than ever before, with profound consequences for global sea levels. Lastly, we visit the Arctic’s most iconic resident, the polar bear, as a mother bear struggles to provide for her cubs in a world of shrinking sea ice.
Series: Frozen Planet II

Life: Mammals

   2009    Nature
Mammals dominate the planet. They do it through having warm blood and by the care they lavish on their young. Weeks of filming in the bitter Antarctic winter reveal how a mother Weddell seal wears her teeth down keeping open a hole in the ice so she can catch fish for her pup. A powered hot air balloon produces stunning images of millions of migrating bats as they converge on fruiting trees in Zambia, and slow-motion cameras reveal how a mother rufous sengi exhausts a chasing lizard. A gyroscopically stabilised camera moves alongside migrating caribou, and a diving team swim among the planet's biggest fight as male humpback whales battle for a female.
Series: Life

Frozen Planet: Winter

   2011    Nature
There is no greater test for life than winter, as temperatures plummet to 70 below and winds reach 200kph. Darkness and ice extend across the polar regions and only a few remarkable survivors gamble on remaining. We join a female polar bear trekking into the Arctic mountains to give birth as the first blizzards arrive. Out on the frozen ocean, the entire world's population of spectacled eider ducks brave the winter in a giant ice hole kept open by ferocious currents. Arctic forests transform into a wonderland of frost and snow - the scene of a desperate and bloody battle between wolf and bison, but also where a remarkable alliance between raven and wolverine is made. Beneath the snow lies a magical world of winter survivors. Here tiny voles dodge the clutches of the great grey owl, but cannot escape the ultimate under-show predator - the least weasel. Midwinter and a male polar bear wanders alone across the dark, empty icescape. Below the snow, polar bear cubs begin life in an icy den while fantastical auroras light the night skies above. In Antarctica, we join male emperor penguins in their darkest hour, battling to protect precious eggs from fierce polar storms. Weddell seals escape to a hidden world of jewel-coloured corals and alien-looking creatures but frozen devastation follows as sinister ice stalactites reach down with deadly effect.
Series: Frozen Planet

The Big Freeze

   1993    Nature
As almost all animal inhabitants of Antarctica are forced to migrate north, the sea underneath the frozen ice still provides a home to many specially adapted fish whose cells are protected from freezing through an 'antifreeze' liquid. Many of them feed on the faeces of other animals. The most notable larger animal that does not migrate north is perhaps the Weddell Seal, which can be found as close as 1300 kilometres to the pole. Groups of seals tear holes into the ice to dive for food and come up to breathe. The females come back to the ice to give birth. This episode also describes primitive plant life such as lichen, which can still be found on the continent in winter, even in the extremely dry and permanently frozen valleys conditions under which dead animals can lie frozen for many centuries without decomposing. It details the life of the Emperor Penguin, 'the only birds to lay their eggs directly on ice'. While other animals retreat, Emperors migrate not just to the ice, but into the Antarctic continent. The females lay eggs which are incubated by the males under the harshest conditions on Earth (huddling closely together for warmth), while the females return to the sea.
Series: Life in the Freezer
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