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Taking the Plunge

On a remote island close to the Antarctic Circle, wildlife cameraman John Aitchison watches as leopard seals hunt young Adelie penguins learning to swim.

Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife, and in this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe.

1/5 Taking the Plunge:

John travelled with a team whilst making the BBC series, Frozen Planet, to Dream Island a remote, cold, hostile island despite its name, whose only inhabitants are elephant seals and Adelie penguins. Over fifteen years ago, another team from the BBC came here to film what happens when young penguins go to sea. There were thousands of chicks in the colonies then, and when they reached the water, several hundred leopard seals were waiting for them. But John discovers the colony is less than a fifth of its original size, and there are far fewer leopard seals so he travels further south where the breeding season is shorter and later. On the Fish Islands, he finds what he's looking for; a larger colony of Adelie adults and chicks. The young penguins head down the rocky shore to the water's edge for their first swim, flapping their wings up and down before they take their first plunge. They are like nervous ducks, waiting for someone to make the first move. Eventually a young penguin dives into the water. Others follow. John watches anxiously; the penguins seem unaware of the dangers of diving into water with leopard seals nearby. What follows next is a tense game of 'cat and mouse' as a leopard seal hunts the young swimmers.

Producer Sarah Blunt.

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15 minutes

Last on

Mon 19 Aug 2013 13:45

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