Nature's Miracle

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Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 59 minutes

Three-part series exploring Australia's Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world and the largest living structure on our planet.

Monty Halls explores its full 2,000-kilometre length, from the wild outer reefs of the Coral Sea to the tangled mangrove and steaming rainforest on the shoreline; from large mountainous islands to tiny coral cays barely above sea level; from the dark depths of the abyss beyond the reef to colourful coral gardens of the shallows.

Along the way, he experiences the reef at its most dangerous and its most intriguing, and visits areas that have rarely been filmed, from the greatest wildlife shipwreck on earth to the mysterious seafloor of the lagoon, where freakish animals lurk under every rock.

The first film explores the complex structure of the coral reef itself and the wildlife that lives on it. So vast it is visible from space, the reef is actually built by tiny animals in partnership with microscopic plants. It is a place full of surprises that is always changing, responding to the rhythms of weather, tide, sun and moon.

Within this magical and intensely crowded world, this episode reveals how the amazing reef creatures compete and co-operate - from deadly fish-hunting snails to sharks that can walk on land, fighting corals and parrot fish that spin sleeping bags every night.

Remote cameras, cutting-edge underwater macro and digital time-lapse photography have captured many sequences which have never been filmed before, providing completely fresh perspectives on this extraordinary natural wonder.

Last on

Sun 30 Mar 2014 19:00 BBC Two except Scotland

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  • Heron Island

    Heron Island

    You often hear of coral reefs described as being fragile, but we discovered the tough side of coral when we visited Heron Island with cameraman Mark MacEwan. The Island is a small sand bay sitting on top of a huge reef, from above; it looks like the yolk of a fried egg.

    We timed our arrival with the lowest tides to film the rare moment when whole areas of the reef are exposed. At certain times of the day the water sweeps off the reef in waterfalls revealing great chunks of coral to the air.

    Coral polyps, more used to cooling seawater, find themselves not only exposed to air but also to the searing Queensland sun. They survive by retreating inside their limestone skeletons and secreting bucket loads of slime, which acts as sunscreen.

    The whole effect is as surreal as it is stunning, a reef that we’d been snorkelling over only a few hours before, was suddenly before us, as if lifted out of the water by some supernatural force. The coral heads, now in full sunlight showed their true colours: fluorescent greens, bright purples and every colour of the rainbow all shining in the water as if freshly varnished. This was one of the great spectacles of the reef and one that reinforced its ever-changing nature.

  • Blacktip reef shark

    Blacktip reef shark

    A Blacktip reef shark taken by series producer James Brickell at Heron Island. Copyright James Brickell


Monty Halls
Series Producer
James Brickell
Executive Producer
Neil Nightingale


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