Despite living on a planet that is two-thirds covered by water, even today we still know more about the surface of Mars than we do about what is going on under the surface of our own oceans.
Over a decade after the first series graced our screens, Blue Planet II returns to give us just a small snapshot of what lies beneath the waves. The breath-taking documentary takes us on a whirlwind tour from the frigid polar seas of the north to the ethereal brine lakes of the deep. But there are moments here that are tinged with sadness.
“The nearest I came to tears when narrating the entire series is when you see those shots of the Great Barrier Reef,” recounts David Attenborough, who returns to the helm to narrate the new series, and has chatted to IFLScience. With the past few years testing the largest living structure to breaking point as sea surface temperatures creep up, the future of the reef balances on a precipice.
“If you’ve ever swum on the Barrier Reef, if you’ve ever seen the glories, the multicoloured variety, the astonishments of a flourishing Barrier Reef which is one of the most beautiful, thrilling, mysterious sights that the world has to offer; if you’ve ever experienced that, and you now look at this desert of white, crumbling, dead coral and think of what was once there, that’s something that brings tears to the eyes,” Attenborough laments.
Over the past 20 years, Attenborough’s documentaries have taken on an increasingly political overtone, aimed at highlighting the impact that threats such as man-made climate change and the ever-burgeoning global population are having on the natural world. And they have a real impact.
Blue Planet II has already been sold to 30 different countries before the series has even finished airing, and Attenborough believes that the inherent secret to the success of his programmes is that natural history documentaries have the ability to draw people from across the age spectrum.