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Genres: Animals
Station: BBC One (UK)
Status: Ended
Start: 2009-02-11

Nature's Great Events Next Episode Air Date

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Nature's Great Events Air Dates

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  • S01E03 - The Great Migration

    Each year more than one million wildebeest and zebra invade the Serengeti grasslands, making it a paradise for the predators that live there. But what happens when the herds move off again? This programme follows the moving story of one lion family's struggle to survive until the return of the great migration.

    Nature's Great Events tells the story of the epic trek of herds that follow the rains to fresh pastures, and the tale of the predators they leave behind.

    The crew captures the desperate plight of a single pride of lions, revealing a different side to the Serengeti. Rather than being a predators' paradise, it is a land in constant change, with wildebeest following the rains and leaving the lions to tough it out.

    The Ntudu pride has seven cubs, and is already suffering as the wildebeest leave to find fresh pastures. The four pride females struggle to find enough food for their hungry offspring.

    As weeks turn to months, the pride members become more emaciated and frailer, and the number of cubs dwindles to just two.

    As the herds begin to return, the plains reveal one final secret. For the first time since 1967, the Serengeti's only active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai, begins to billow ash and smoke. Filmed from the air, the team captures the exciting action. Fertilised by the volcanic ash over millions of years, these short grass plains are among the most productive grasslands in the world.

    After months of hardship, the pride's tragic story, through sickness, drought and fire, is over as the herds return, providing plentiful food.

    The final ten-minute diary, Pride and Peril, tells the harrowing story captured by film-maker Owen Newman of the Ndutu pride which he followed for more than a year.

    Air Date: 25 February 2009 21:00 -
  • S01E04 - The Great Tide

    A mighty army of dolphins, sharks, whales, seals and gannets hunt down the billions of sardines along South Africa's east coast each winter. This is the sardine run: an underwater Armageddon, the greatest gathering of predators anywhere on the planet, and the most spectacular event in the world's oceans.

    However, in recent years the sardine run has become less predictable, perhaps due to the warming effects of climate change. If the sardine run does not happen, the lives of the animals caught up in the drama hang in the balance.

    Pioneering a unique boat stabilised camera mount for surface filming, the Nature's Great Events crew capture all the high octane action as the predators compete for sardines, filmed with aerial, underwater and above water cameras. Super slow motion cameras also capture the very moment gannets plunge into the water, hitting it at 60 miles an hour.

    A violent winter storm is the trigger for the sardines to begin their desperate dash. They are followed by a super-pod of 5,000 dolphins and further up the coast more predators gather. A shoal of sardines 15 miles long is pushed into the shallows and aerial shots show thousands of sharks gathering to feed on them.

    The climax to the sardine run is a spectacular feeding frenzy as the dolphins round the sardines up into balls on which all the predators feast. Gannets rain down in their thousands, sharks pile in scattering the fish and a Bryde's whale lunges in taking great mouthfuls of sardines.

    Air Date: 04 March 2009 21:00 -
  • S01E05 - The Great Flood

    The great flood in the Okavango turns 4,000 square miles of arid plains into a beautiful wetland. Elephant mothers guide their families on an epic trek across the harsh Kalahari Desert towards it, siphoning fresh water from stagnant pools and facing hungry lions. Hippos battle for territory, as the magical water draws in thousands of buffalo and birds, and vast clouds of dragonflies. Will the young elephant calves survive to reach this grassland paradise?

    The experienced mother elephants time their arrival at the delta to coincide with the lush grass produced by the great flood. In a TV first, the programme shows the way they use their trunks to siphon clean water from the surface layers of a stagnant pool, while avoiding stirring up the muddy sediment on the bottom with their feet.

    Bull hippos also converge on prime territories formed by the rising flood water. Two big bulls do bloody battle, at times being lifted out of the water by their rival.

    Lechwe swamp deer, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and numerous fish and thousands of birds arrive in the delta. And, in a phenomenon never before filmed in the Okavango, thousands of dragonflies appear - seemingly from nowhere - within minutes of the flood arrival, mating and laying eggs.

    As the flood finally reaches its peak, elephants and buffalo, near the end of their epic trek across the desert, face the final gauntlet of a hungry pride of lions.

    In a heart-wrenching sequence, a baby elephant is brought down by a lion in broad daylight.

    Air Date: 11 March 2009 21:00 -
  • S01E06 - The Great Feast

    Every summer in the seas off Alaska humpback whales, sea lions and killer whales depend on an explosion of plant life, the plankton bloom. It tranforms these seas into the richest on Earth. But will these animals survive to enjoy the great feast?

    The summer sun sparks the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic floating plants which can bloom in such vast numbers that they eclipse even the Amazon rainforest in sheer abundance of plant life. Remarkably, it is these minute plants that are the basis of all life here.

    But both whales and sea lions have obstacles to overcome before they can enjoy the feast. Humpback whales migrate 3,000 miles from Hawaii, and during their three-month voyage lose a third of their body weight. In a heart-rending scene a mother sea lion loses her pup in a violent summer storm, while another dramatic sequence shows a group of killer whales working together to kill a huge male sea lion.

    In late summer the plankton bloom is at its height. Vast shoals of herring gather to feed on it, diving birds round the fish up into a bait ball and then a humpback whale roars in to scoop up the entire ball of herring in one huge mouthful.

    When a dozen whales work together they employ the ultimate method of co-operative fishing - bubble net feeding. One whale blows a ring of bubbles to engulf the fish and then they charge in as one. Filmed from the surface, underwater and, for the first time, from the air, we reveal how these giant hunters can catch a tonne of fish every day.

    In Swallowed By a Whale, cameramen Shane Moore and David Reichert were filming bait balls when a 30 tonne whale roared past, within feet of them, swallowing the entire bait ball.

    Air Date: 18 March 2009 21:00 -