Blue Planet Live "Let" Nature Take Its Course, And People Are Not Happy

Green Sea Turtle hatchling Kelly Marine-Monger/Shutterstock

Nature is not all breathtaking landscapes and adorable fluffies. Sometimes, nature is cruel and terrifying. The tree ocelot's mimicry of baby monkeys, a ploy to lure unsuspecting prey, is a case in point.

See also: chimps engaging in infanticide, bumblebees committing massacres, and Adélie penguins enjoying a bit of gang rape. Don't get us started on otters. While they may look cute, they are also the perpetrators of all sorts of deranged behavior from interspecies rape and necrophilia to the murder of a perfectly innocent monkey

And so, with this in mind, it is to be expected that a program documenting nature exposes some of this nature in action. Last Sunday, viewers tuning in to watch the BBC's Blue Planet Live were shown exactly that in the final few moments of an episode when a hungry seagull dramatically swooped and snatched a baby turtle as it was being released by the presenters into the sea. 

People took to Twitter to vent their sadness that this particular turtle was not able to complete its journey with the other hatchlings.

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(Well, not everyone.)

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And some expressed some frustration that the film crew didn't do more to help the baby turtle.

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The turtle-snatching incident occurred after scientists working at the Heron Island Research Station, Australia, rescued six hatchlings from their nest chamber. Viewers were told that all six would have died had there not been this human intervention. 

Because of a process called "imprinting" that enables the turtles to return to the beach later on ("natal homing"), the hatchlings cannot be released directly into the water. And so, the scientists released the turtles on the beach, where they are left vulnerable to wily predators.

As the BBC explained in a statement released in the wake of the drama: "In this case, as with the turtles that emerge naturally, some opportunistic predation occurs by other species either looking to feed themselves or their own young. If this happens we are unable to intervene and have to let nature take its course."

The program's executive producer, Roger Webb, reaffirmed the BBC's stance on intervention, saying, "What happened and the way it played out was unfortunate. It's not for us to interfere."

"With a predator with such quick wits and ability – they're always going have their eyes on the prize."

Some have criticized the film crew for releasing the hatchlings when it was still light. David Godfrey, Executive Director of the nonprofit Sea Turtle Conservancy, told TIME: "The fact that these hatchlings were released in the day is where the mistake was made."

"If the bird hadn’t gotten the hatchling, then a predatory fish waiting just offshore would have."

The brutal truth – as explained by experts in the show – is that only one in 1,000 green sea turtles make it to adulthood. The BBC calls the perilous journey to the sea "a tough, but crucial, first test" for the hatchlings, who will have to survive a variety of predators – birds, fish, beach scavengers – to make it to adulthood and return to the beaches to breed in later life. 

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