Art & Culture

Why you can't miss BBC’s Blue Planet II with Sir David Attenborough for the world

Murtaza Ali Khan
Murtaza Ali KhanMay 22, 2018 | 17:50

Why you can't miss BBC’s Blue Planet II with Sir David Attenborough for the world

Have you ever imagined what the life is like at the bottom of the ocean? What it takes to sustain life in the deepest reaches of the ocean? What effect do the environmental changes triggered by human intervention have on the denizens of the deep sea?

Sir David Attenborough answers these questions while unraveling several other underwater mysteries in his legendary voice in BBC’s nature documentary series Blue Planet II — the long awaited sequel to The Blue Planet (2001) — which has recently released across India as a special theatrical edition comprising the first two episodes of the series viz “One Ocean” and “The Deep”, respectively.


Like with all previous BBC outings featuring Sir Attenborough, the scope of Blue Planet II is enormous.

The series is a result of 125 expeditions over four years of filming on every continent and across every ocean that has already made way for as many as 12 scientific research papers. Just like its predecessor, Blue Planet II features a music score by Hans Zimmer.

The theatrical version of Blue Planet II takes us where the human curiosity finally finds its match. The breathtaking underwater visuals and Attenborough’s magnetic voice serve as the perfect antidote to boredom and monotony.

While most breathtaking moments take place when we are underwater there is a particularly poignant sequence captured at the surface wherein a colony of walruses struggles to keep the young ones afloat as the unusually high temperatures in the Arctic quickly melt the polar ice away.

Can there be a more powerful reminder of the harsh realities of climate change? One is reminded of another unforgettable sequence that also takes place at the surface wherein a giant trevally leaps out of water to catch a bird in mid-air.

Sir Attenborough’s brilliant narration perfectly sums up the amazing feat, “So there is a fish here that amazingly has a brain capable of calculating the air speed, altitude and trajectory of a bird.”


Speaking of the world beneath the waves, it is a habitat that’s larger than all habitats of the earth combined. It is also home to endless mysteries.





The light of the ocean — a world beneath the waves. Photos: BBC/Screengrab/Pinterest

Here we come across female kobudai fishes capable of changing into males, swordfishes with tennis-ball-sizes eyes, cockeyed squids with one eye looking downwards and another upwards, fishes with transparent head filled with jelly-like substance allowing it to see through its head, cannibalistic humboldt squids eating one another, sea toads with modified fins resembling feet that allows them to shuffle across the sea floor, flapjack octopus looking for worms on the sea floor, scabbardfishes perpetually swimming in an upright position, spider crabs with legs adorned with corals, and, of course, fangtooths, ferocious deep-sea fishes with the largest teeth in the ocean relative to body size, among countless other species belonging to the plant and the animal kingdoms.

The deeper layers of the sea receive only faint sunlight during the daytime. The middle layer that begins at the depth of 600 feet is often described as the Twilight Zone which at a depth of 2,000 meters from the surface makes way for a region of perpetual darkness, referred to as the Midnight Zone. It is here that one comes across alien-like creatures producing dazzling display of light to attract mates and distract predators. One of the most dangerous predators inhabiting this dark abyss is the six-gill shark that owing to the limited resources in the deep sea often has to go on without eating for long intervals, sometimes even up to a year.


But the journey of the deep doesn’t end here, for Attenborough’s reassuring voice takes us further into the deepest reaches of the Pacific, all the way to the bottom of the Mariana Trench where we come across complex forms of life such as a rare species of deep-sea cucumbers called sea pigs. But the biggest surprise comes in form of the ethereal snailfish which at five miles down the trench is the deepest living fish discovered yet.

In words of Sir Attenborough, “No one imagined that an animal as complex as a fish could exist in such extreme pressures.” He seems convinced that it is here that the life on earth began. Having seen such miracles in the deepest reaches of the sea, it is difficult to doubt his assessment.

Vintage Sir David Attenborough's Planet Blue II brings to us the endless marvels of the underworld in the most cinematic manner possible. But its purpose is not merely to acquaint us with the creatures of the deep, for it also endeavours to remind us about the threats that the oceans are facing today, owing to human activities such as dumping of plastic waste, carbon emissions, over fishing, etc.

According to estimates, as much as 12 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the sea every year which travelling around our oceans has even reached as far as the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

In an interview with The Guardian, producer Mark Brownlow confirmed that during one of the shoots his team saw albatross chicks being killed after eating bits of plastic which they mistook for food.

Today, the oceanic life is under serious threat with the future looking more ominous than ever. We can no longer afford to sit back and do nothing.

Now is the time to act. I think we owe that much to our blue planet.

Last updated: May 22, 2018 | 20:08
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