National Geographic Seasons in the Sea 1990

[Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] along the crowded coast of Southern California life revolves around the ever-present Sun and the ever-changing sea but even those who can master the mighty Pacific surf have little sense of the other world that lies beyond the shining wave [Music] this mysterious realm has its own strange forests Plains and deserts and the amazing variety of life here is ruled not only by heat and cold darkness and light but by tides currents and storms these govern the seasons in the sea summer in a forest of seaweed in the waning afternoon light pilgrims glide through the amber glades of giant kelp to keep an ancient and urgent appointment [Music] [Music] at twilight hundreds of bat raised rise from their daytime slumber they unfurl their four-foot wings to join in a nuptial flight [Music] no one knows how far they travel to take part in this trance-like courtship and who can guess by what subtle insinuations they make their choice of mate [Music] somehow the choice is made and the courting pair peels off from the swirling dance [Music] and gentle foreplay the mail rubs his back against the female's belly she may still reject him by darting away but if pleased she slows her wing beats and they mate [Music] for two weeks they join in these nightly moonlit flights and then as mysteriously as they arrived each battery leaves alone a surface current flows south along this rugged coast pulling water up from the depths just offshore the forest of giant kelp which rides the undulating swell thrives on this upwelling of cold water rich in nutrients the floating canopy is a powerhouse harnessing sunlight to nourish this dense undersea forest stretching 100 feet to the surface these are the largest seaweeds in the world many more thousands of animals live here than could without the giant kelp this fish is one of the most colorful the bold Garibaldi stands out in brilliant contrast to the algae while the giant kelp fish almost disappears among the fronds it mimics the color shape even the movement of the blades at the base of each blade gas-filled swellings cause the frond to float no seaweed needs roots they absorb nutrients directly from seawater but without being anchored to the rocks by a holdfast the whole plant and the animals at shelters would simply float away from forest floor to canopy the kelp is home to a profusion of different creatures like a forest out of Fable it hides many mysteries [Music] modeled like a stonehenge monolith the 40-foot Hulk of a gray whale materializes out of the Emerald gloom [Music] it is Midway on the longest migration of any mammal 5,000 miles from the Bering Strait through its breeding grounds and the lagoons of Baja California it was always thought that great whales fasted while migrating but this one scoops up a great mouthful of kelp perhaps to snack on the shellfish that cling to the weed [Music] their coastal migrations made the Grays easy prey for whalers by the 1920s they were almost extinct today after 40 years of full protection 18,000 make the journey south each year their passage signals the advent of winter but there are marine mammals that make the kelp forests their home year-round southern sea otters once ranged all along the Pacific coast but cursed with luxurious fur coveted by human beings they like the whales were almost annihilated although protected now the Otters recovery has been slow only a tenth of its original number clings to life in the kelp the otter rolls in the trailing fronds tucking itself into the ultimate waterbed now it can rest securely without fear of being swept into the pounding surf the winter swell begins to grow a rougher ride for the great blue heron the storms of winter are forced to be reckoned with both above and below the surface driven by the wind over the wide Pacific the swell builds even 100 feet below the surges felt violently stirring oxygen and nutrients into a fertile brew 20 foot waves tear the kelp to tatters kelp shreds are a vital food source both here and in the ocean depths where much of it will settle in severe storms whole kelp forests can be torn from their moorings set adrift by the awesome power of the waves [Music] even in its rage the surf remains a playground [Applause] harbor seals play in the foam and catch a wave when they can as the serf spends its fury they dry their coats in the last rays of the winter Sun the dying Sun and rising moon worked their magic on the tides the midwinter moon casts a spell conjuring a ghostly invasion from the open sea [Music] opalescence squid rocket out of the abyss like living missiles their multitude darkens the moon shadowing the sandy plain just outside the kelp forest [Music] each night they migrate to the surface to feed but this night they have no thought of food they have come here to breed [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] propelled by bursts of seawater the male's jet after the females and grasped them in an embrace of blushing tentacles the color dissuades her other suitors the male then uses a special arm to deposit his sperm beneath the female's mantle once the transfer is complete the female has another task to perform she produces an egg case almost as long as her body which she packs was more than 200 eggs then she searches for a sandy place to secure her precious cargo digging down several inches to bury the small anchor that tethers the egg case late comers attach their egg cases to other clusters creating fantastic bouquets of new life intent upon their urgent mission the squared ignore all else mails frantically mobbed the remaining virgin females occasionally flushing with success death stalks the frenzied swarm ellagic stingrays enfold the squid in their dark wings they have followed the school from the open ocean to gorge on the distracted squid yet even those that escape the stingrays will not survive this night having poured every last bit of their strength into the next generation the entire school dies the midwinter dance is done only corpses remain for the sand dabs to squabble over decorator crabs and even anemones share in the feast [Music] but their eggs will inherit the see the squid have left their legacy for the future [Music] the steady rhythm of Sun Moon and Earth brings spring to these waters awakening desire in the California sea lions these adolescents aren't old enough to actually produce young but they enjoy this tender encounter rocking gently in the ocean's embrace [Music] [Applause] [Music] sea lions are so playful it's hard to tell whether they do things for pleasure or for more practical reasons no one knows why they carefully select and eat small stones but they do perhaps they're for ballast or to dislodge internal parasites or perhaps they simply enjoy the taste sleek and sassy California sea lions are the most graceful of all the seals gregarious by nature the rocky shallows swarm with sea lions as the breeding season approaches by early June the adults have gathered at the rookeries each mature bull is crowned by a sagittal crest the symbol of his breeding status but right now the females are giving birth on the beach and they won't be ready to mate until their pups are three weeks old only then will the Bulls attempt to claim breeding territories for now they while away the warm spring days and gentler pursuits just offshore from the sea lion nursery sea otters warm themselves on the kelp forest canopy whenever they're on the surface they vigorously rub every inch of their coats this captures an insulating layer of air and the dense fur that keeps out the chill when they dive these endearing clowns play a vital role in the balance between predator and prey in the kelp forest for otters love to eat sea urchins and sea urchins love to eat kelp few other denizens of the kelp forest put sea urchins on the menu this gentle six-foot ogre is a wolf eel with a face worthy of its prickly prey the urchin spines are no protection from the wolf eels massive jaws and grinding teeth unfortunately there are too few wool fields to keep the urchins in check without sea otters to control them urgent populations can explode a slow-motion army of urgence with as many as 300 per square yard devours everything in its path eating through the holdfasts they set whole forests adrift leaving behind what is aptly called an urchin barren [Music] once the urchins have eaten their way through a grove of kelp they've no choice but to move on setting off across the sand flats in search of greener pastures it's a dangerous crossing the wider cheon's which live here easily overwhelmed their larger cousins condense the work of several hours into a few seconds and this apparently peaceful gathering is revealed as an attack violent and deadly [Music] viewed at this speed the sand flat comes alive with life and death struggles that stars also hunt down the migrating perches they turn the urchin over with their powerful tube feet to reach its unprotected parts beneath then they insert their stomachs into the urchins mouth and digest it from the inside out a swarm of white urchins cleans up the scraps seen at high-speed starfish have a surprisingly active social life [Music] in our normal time for him however life on the sand plane seems to grind to a halt compared with the kelp forest there seems little life here but there is enough potential prey to keep this swell shark well-fed a timid creature it hunts at night by ambush and for its own safety can wedge its body in a rock crevice by swelling up hence its name the swell shark is doubly equipped to hunt in darkness not only can it sense the weak electric impulses produced by the muscles of its prey but its eyes are sensitive to the faintest glimmer of light this female is bent upon another task she lays an egg one of the few she will produce this year it's safe inside a leathery capsule disguised as a piece of kelp she abandons her offspring to its fate but it will have 10 months to grow before it must take its chances on the reef until then it will be safe in its mermaid's purse it begins swimming months before it ever plies the open sea almost a year later having outgrown the safety of its home the young shark secretes an enzyme dissolving the seal of the egg case free at last it sets off in pursuit of its first meal already too big to be a tempting meal itself a different bit of kelp debris turns out to be yet another magic purse with its own tiny genie about to emerge like the swell shark the horn shark has spent months in its eighth case living off its yolk sac it leaves its sanctuary a perfect 6 inch miniature of the 4-foot adult driven by hunger it strikes out towards the sand plane unaware of the formidable predators that lurk there luckily it packs a secret weapon with a gulp the horn char is inhaled then with a gasp its spat out miraculously it is whole and unharmed true to its name the horn shark is armed with a spine at the base of its dorsal fin a painful surprised when rammed into the tender roof of its attackers mouth its hiding place exposed the Ray like angel shark glides off like a sinister flying carpet unlike sharks squid have colossal numbers of defenseless young and the hope that some will beat the odds only a tiny fraction of these minut hatchlings will survive the next year and return to breed [Music] first they join the living stream of plankton that flows out of the kelp forests feeding many mouths [Music] like a Spectre out of nightmare the basking shark sweeps through the plankton the gaping maw of this 30-foot monster could easily engulf a human being but his prey is microscopic his gills expanded into a giant sieve raked plankton from the living meadows of the sea [Music] small schools of these harmless Giants follow the plankton rich currents but sometimes the currents kidnapped even stranger animals of the open sea [Music] a gigantic pelagic jellyfish floats out of the blue it is a new species never seen before and has extravagantly thrilled oral arms trailing some 20 feet from its mouth [Music] an entire squadron of these inner space ships has been carried off course [Music] even the huge pulsating Bell three feet across cannot fight the current [Music] sadly shipwreck is inevitable for these magnificent vessels and for the host of passengers sailing with them the jellyfish's friends of stinging cells protects this young slender craft which feeds on plankton caught in the mucus coating [Music] but just what this bizarre dance is all about remains a mystery is the crab enjoying a significant partnership or is it just an accidental tourist caught up in the impending disaster [Music] between deadly grip like tentacles and stinging oral arms young Jackfish carefully picked their way they are not immune to the jellyfish's venom but the protection that it offers repays them for the occasional twinge [Music] the resident fish of the nearby kelp forest descend upon this unwitting visitor to their world they nibble on the oral arms despite their lining of stinging cells [Music] for the garibaldi the venom only seems to enhance the flavor although these garibaldi may never meet this type of jellyfish again they swim daily among its relatives these anemones were free-swimming jellyfish themselves before they turned upside down and settled permanently onto the seafloor their bodies are encased in a protective - leaving only their tentacles exposed richly armed with stinging cells like a living minefield they wait for the current to sweep plankton within their grasp upon contact their deadly tentacles coiled downward delivering minut prey to the gaping central mouth this poisonous blossom also acts as a defense but no defense is perfect [Music] the rainbow nudibranch drops in for a meal it's a sea slug with a taste for tube anemones it creeps up the anemones protective tube arching up and over to grip the slippery tentacles with its vice-like mouth who has swallowed whom the anemones retreat wasn't quick enough it has lost a mouthful of tentacles but the anemone will recover from its haircut and the nudibranch gets away with much more than a meal remarkably it manages to swallow the tentacles without triggering their stinging cells instead they migrate through its digestive tract to surface fully armed and the feathery gills on its back it wears this stolen armor as a defense against its own predators [Music] new to Bronx advertise their secondhand stinging power with vibrant colors so they have few enemies one of these is a close relative it's a see hair called Navin axe it tracks the nudibranch across the rocky reef by following its telltale trail of slime inside Navin axes swollen gut the anemones stinging cells will finally be digested another killer of the reef emerges from its sea cave the Moray Eel uses its acute sense of smell to detect the approach of its victims and octopus is its favorite prey six feet of swirling eel ties of vicious nut and rips off one of the octopuses arms the Moray retreats into his lair with his prize leading the octopus to grow a new arm if it survives long enough all this action has attracted a sharp-eyed harbor seal the octopus falls back on its best defense transforming its color and texture to match the rock but the seal isn't so easily fooled the harbor seal returns to the shelter of the kelp forest [Music] in these warm still days of summer coastal waters have the clarity of crystal the kelp first changes its color to match the algae Citroen yield summer has transformed the kelp forest into an amber Cathedral [Music] you can almost see giant kelp grow the fastest growing plant on earth it adds as much as 2 feet a day each frond rises 100 feet with another 100 feet floating on the surface the harbor seal rocks in it's cool day bed buoyed up by the tangle of great golden loops the kelp forests may be the most productive ecosystem in the world and it spreads its wealth widely feeding creatures that never see its sunkissed glades it is a tremendous fish nursery a fact which the harbor seal appreciates summer is the season when the Garibaldi breeds the male tends the nest a patch of algae which he cultivates on the side of a rock he removes anything that might endanger his nest especially algae eating urgence a diligent gardener his vigilance against the urchins is tireless he weeds his algae garden with meticulous care by removing every kind except the one he prefers his nest becomes a dense mat of red algae once it's ready he displays above the nest to attract the attention of a passing female as she approaches his excitement grows the female may enter as many as 16 nests before she finally finds one that meets her standards she prefers large nests that already contain eggs like this one as soon as the last egg is laid he quickly escort's her off she might eat some eggs he then returns to fertilize his latest clutch they will take a few weeks to hatch as they develop he mouths the eggs frequently to aerate them and remove debris he fearlessly defends his nest warning off all comers in this case a school of seniorita fish the Cabazon is another father who guards his brood with great vigilance he perches over his dark green egg mass to keep a close lookout for danger but once the young hatch all eyes and twitching tails they're on their own most will survive for only a few days as with the squid the Cabazon survival depends on the few hatchlings that evade capture the rest feed other mouths and these fish rich waters only a very few Garibaldi are lucky enough to survive their first year these spotted yearlings hide within a forest of sea urchin spines a refuge from the schools of jack mackerel that streamed through the kelp [Music] they sweep in from the open sea drawn by the abundance of food [Music] [Applause] [Music] the foundation of all this life is the giant kelp as it breaks down it feeds the plankton on this near invisible drift of life feed clouds of shrimp like krill themselves food for creatures great and small [Music] [Applause] [Music] the school of anchovies drive the krill into a tight ball making them easier to feed upon [Music] but in the sea predator can all too quickly become prey [Music] a blue shark 12 feet of elegance and power [Music] now it's the anchovies turn to be rounded up the school shrinks from the patrolling blues like a single organism each individual darting for safety at the center of the whirling mass but this time the anchovies are lucky the Sharks have other prey in mind krill have been found in the bellies of blue sharks before but until now it was a mystery how they could feed on such tiny animals here's how without the help of their more usual prey these leek hunters could never indulge their taste for strength it's a strange lays on between anchovy shark and krill left unmolested krill spread out into a rosy haze but there are animals that are designed to comb this diffuse feast from the sea one is the largest animal that ever lived the blue whale [Music] [Applause] three times the size of the largest dinosaur 100 feet long and weighing 300 thousand pounds the blue whale is an animal of staggering proportions it exists only on krill with a sideways lunge it opens its colossal mouth [Music] it's pleaded throat balloons out swelling to the size of a large living room and engulfing an entire school of krill [Music] it's 20 foot long tongue will squeeze the water out through its baleen a gigantic sieve which retains krill by the ton brought to the edge of extinction by whaling there are only a few thousand of these Titans left [Music] the blue whale wanders the open sea but like all ocean creatures its fate is tied to the health and fertility of our coasts the residents of the kelp forest remained behind safe within their amber glades safe that is as long as we protect the wilderness beneath the waves [Music] [Applause] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music]