Naturalist Steve Backshall heads to the Bahamas to see a whole bunch of shark species, and must decide which ones will earn a place on his Deadly 60 list.
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My name's Steve Backshall.
I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60.
That's 60 deadly creatures from around the world.
And you're coming with me every step of the way.
This time on Deadly 60, we're in the Bahamas -
here - and we're looking for one very special kind of animal.
The Bahamas is a real global hotspot for sharks.
It's not just the amount of sharks down here,
but all different kinds of species of sharks.
All those weird and wonderful creatures don't just look different,
they have different kinds of prey, they're found in different parts
of the ocean and have different behaviours.
I'm looking for three sharks for my list
and each one has a very different way of hunting.
First up is one of the most manoeuvrable sharks
in the Caribbean. The king of the coral reef,
the reef shark.
Helping me, as ever, are my crew,
including underwater cameraman, Simon,
and from the nearby Sharklab, Dr Sam Gruber,
also known as the Doc.
The minute we arrive at the reef, Doc and his Sharklab crew
start dishing the goodies to bring in the sharks, while cameraman,
Simon, gets in position below the boat.
The divers are barely in the water when our first guest turns up.
A lot of people around the world are terrified of going into the sea,
because of just this. That dorsal fin cutting the surface.
Sharks really are an element of fear for people all over the world.
Look at this. Coming right in close!
I guess one of the central problems is the image of
the shark-feeding frenzy.
The idea that as soon as any bit of blood goes in the water,
sharks will come in from miles around and as soon as they're there,
they're just gonna go crazy,
attacking everything that moves and killing and eating it.
People have an idea of sharks as being these crazed man-eaters,
but that simply isn't true.
What I want to prove is that sharks are way smarter and
way more selective about what they eat than people think.
And the best way to do that is to bring them in and
then go in and join them.
No matter how many times I do this, there's still that
feeling of excitement coming up from your stomach when
you're getting ready to get in the water with sharks.
Particularly when they're as active as these ones.
I have to be very careful, to go in quite quietly and carefully.
Not because the sharks are gonna go for me,
but more that they're likely to be frightened off.
Also have to be careful when you're in the water not to thrash around
with your hands, because all of a sudden, these white fingers
could well turn into little fishies in the shark's eye.
Good luck, Steve-O.
As far as I can see, I've got three big Caribbean reef sharks
already coming in very close.
They don't seem too frightened of me.
Absolutely magnificent creatures.
You can see how fearless they are.
Three of them have just swam straight into the lens
of the camera. If I wasn't pushing them off with this,
they'd probably have been swimming into me!
We've got six now! Six big Caribbean reef sharks.
As they're coming in right up close, taking food right form in front of
the camera, they're revealing those sharp teeth.
The thing that really sets the Caribbean reef shark apart
is it's manoeuvrability. It can snap almost back on itself
with its head and snap bait right next to the side of it.
That was too close! Way too close!
I've been in the water with these sharks feeding
for about 15 minutes now.
They've bumped me, they've bumped the camera, they've bumped
each other, but I've still got all my fingers, still got all my toes.
It's pretty obvious that they're not interested in me to eat.
But for their manoeuvrability, for the speed and for
their razor-sharp teeth, the reef sharks are our first sharks
on the Deadly 60.
That was amazing!
In the reef world here in the Bahamas,
nothing hunts fish
better than these guys.
Fast, agile and packed with muscle,
the Caribbean reef shark.
The centre for shark research here in the Bahamas is called Sharklab.
Run by the Doc, his team study pretty much
all the shark species in the area.
To help their research, they keep some baby sharks for a while
in pens, just off the beach.
Here at Sharklab, we get a unique opportunity
to get close to some baby sharks.
They are so cute, you are just not gonna believe it.
OK, so these babies are not exactly deadly, but they have
the same awesome sensory abilities that adult sharks do.
Seeing them up close will give me an insight into
what makes the adults deadly predators.
Now, if you'll just stay on this fence here
and walk around that way, I'll try to bring these guys to you.
Here we go, here we go.
So there we go. Our first baby shark.
I'd be careful, now. Really.
OK, now, this is just the baby shark -
I do need to be quite careful
about how I handle it, cos this is a lemon shark
and this species is well-known for being incredible mobile.
They can whip right round and bite their own tail.
So, actually, if I let go with my right hand now,
I would almost certainly get bitten.
What we can do is - let's put him in tonic immobility.
Put him to sleep, now, together.
-Just roll him over like that, hold his tail.
Now he's gonna go to sleep.
So what's the theory with these sharks? You flip them over and
they almost act as though they're hypnotised.
They are. We also call it animal hypnosis.
When you turn their senses around and make everything the wrong way,
it confuses the animal and there's so much sensory input that they
just go into this state of relaxation.
This does actually work for adult sharks
-as well as for juniors, doesn't it?
-Yes, it does.
We have five senses, but these baby sharks have an extra two,
giving them the power to detect movement and electricity in water.
Take our hypnotised shark...
and we'll wake her up.
There she goes. Look at that! Almost as soon as
she turns back over, starts moving again. It's incredible.
Right, it's a very special day for this little lemon shark.
It's time for her to go back into the wild.
Come on, little lady!
He's certainly feeling very excited at being back out in the sea.
I reckon if we release him now, he's gonna be right at home.
There you go.
Ha! Actually jumped right on Simon the cameraman.
It's just over there.
I'm hoping to see some adult lemon sharks a bit later on.
But now, we're heading out to find my next Deadly 60 animal.
These huge predators prefer to live off-shore and in deep water.
One way Doc can study them in this area is to bait long lines
right down to the sea bed, hundreds of metres below and
check them very few hours.
We got something!
We got a small tiger shark.
Couldn't even feel it pulling until the very last minute.
Just on the end of the line, here.
He's not very big.
Probably two and a half metres.
OK, so the first thing we need to do is to bring the tiger along side
and then the Doc, here, has certain tests he needs to do on it.
Take some blood, get the length and the approximate weight of it.
This information is crucial to help Doc's team find out
as much as possible about these secretive animals.
I know this looks really stressful for the shark,
but they are such tough creatures.
It's really important that we minimise the amount of time that
we have this shark kept like this.
Now, all we really need to do is just to tag it,
so we can identify the individual, and then let it go.
OK, there you go.
That's the tag in there and the tag number is 323871.
Now we need to let this wonderful creature go.
But in order to get it to get moving again,
I'm gonna need to get in the water with it
and help it start swimming.
The shark's groggy form lack of oxygen,
so it's important that someone swims alongside,
keeping its head into the current,
forcing water into its gills until it's moving strongly.
Today, that's gonna be my job.
It's gonna be OK. It's gonna be fine.
That was amazing.
Just disappeared off into the blue.
He was totally unharmed.
A little bit shocked by the whole experience, I think.
But he's gonna be OK.
What a beautiful, beautiful creature.
He gave Simon the cameraman a little bit of a shock, though.
Nearly took a right bite out of the camera.
We were just pulling up the rest of the line,
fully expecting there not to be anything else on it,
and we've had a real surprise.
This big animal is a tiger shark.
And the most amazing thing about it is, despite the fact that
it's absolutely huge, it's a male!
Usually, the really big animals are the females.
You got it?
This monster shark is an old friend
and has already been tagged by Doc and his team.
This is great news for their research
and means we don't need to measure him again.
It's a monster! This is a unique opportunity for me to show you,
up close, some of what makes this shark so special.
If I just lift the snout out of the water,
we might be able to show you...
those incredible teeth.
The tiger shark is probably the most generalist feeder of all sharks.
They'll take an incredible variety of prey.
from turtles and bits of carrion that are just floating in the water,
through to fish - even sea birds.
And their remarkable teeth act like can openers.
They'll easily scissor through the shell of a turtle.
I cannot believe I'm this close to this incredible animal.
This has to rank up there with the greatest experiences of my life.
What a privilege. Look at the size of him!
What do you say we release him?
-I think that's a great idea.
-He's all yours! Let him go.
That might just be the coolest thing I've ever seen.
Seeing that incredible prehistoric creature just
heading off into the big blue.
Just really... Wow.
I dunno what to say.
There's no doubt that I'm going to put tiger sharks on the Deadly 60.
But first, I want to see them on their own terms,
without catching them.
So we've sailed far out to sea in the boat Indigo,
to a place where we have a chance to see wild tiger sharks.
It's called Tiger Beach.
Oh-oh-oh-oh! Come and have a look at this.
I can see one, two, three, four, five, six...
six sharks already.
I think this is going to be a pretty good day.
Let's go down below, shall we?
So far, the tigers are keeping their distance.
These dark shapes belong to lemon sharks
and they're next up for the list.
-What do you reckon, Si?
-Oh, I think it'll do, mate.
These fully grown sharks couldn't be more different to the cute,
vulnerable babies I'd seen back at Sharklab.
And don't be fooled by their name. The only lemony thing about them
is their colour.
Particularly at dawn, dusk and in murky water, they are killers.
And with more sensing capabilities than a submarine.
If you're a fish, you can run, but hiding from them is not an option.
Good job that it's day time and that I'm not a fish.
Look at the size of that!
We're absolutely surrounded by lemon sharks!
Wow! What an unbelievable sight!
Look at those one, here!
This shark is absolutely covered in sucker fish.
They're covering the body!
Look at that!
It's such a serene shark.
They're totally unbothered by our presence.
This is extraordinary!
Oh! I've literally only just got in the water
and I can already see, what, nine? Ten, I think!
Ten adult lemon sharks.
And they look like they're all fully grown females.
You can see how incredibly close they're comfortable getting to me.
They have absolutely no fear of me whatsoever.
And why would they? In this environment, they really are king.
They're very distinctive, with small yellow eyes and their mouth
is just spilling over with teeth.
These lemon sharks can turn right around and bite their own tail.
They're that flexible.
You can see how easily this amazing predator
can suddenly become a terrible threat.
I mean, we're in their environment, not they in ours.
Although I'm not on the menu,
these sharks can be incredibly intimidating.
They'll go around, over and even through you after the bait.
Just imagine if you were a fish and they were after you.
Look how close they're getting to Simon the cameraman.
They're probably sensing electricity from the camera.
Thank you, Doc.
This stick, here - at the end of it are two different kinds of metals
and it gives off a weak electrical field,
which the sharks can sense
with loads of tiny sensors in their snout.
They think that the end of the stick is food.
Hey, there, big fella!
It's actually taking a bite of the stick.
As for what I think about sharks and their lack of danger to humans,
they're still a predator that's right at the top of their game
and you can see why.
Nothing rivals them.
OK, no tigers yet, but these are the biggest, most imposing,
free-swimming sharks I've seen so far and
I suddenly feel a bit exposed.
That was remarkable.
Anybody thinks that sharks are mindless killers can think again.
I mean, even when there's loads of food in the water
and they're thrashing around, teeth and sharks everywhere,
they still leave us well alone.
That said, if you were a fish in there,
and you were faced with that face full of teeth
and those incredibly manoeuvrable bodies,
you wouldn't stand a chance.
And that's why the lemon shark is definitely going on the Deadly 60.
Can I go back in now?
THEY LAUGH Did you enjoy that?
Super-sensitive electro sensors
enable them to track their prey
better than any submarine
and they have the weapons
to finish it off.
The lemon shark.
I got up this morning and there were absolutely no sharks around at all.
And all of a sudden, one dark shape just appeared close to the boat.
We're pretty sure it's a tiger shark.
So we're gonna get in the water and see if we can get it to come close.
There's just a few tantalising shapes just out here,
probably 15 metres behind the boat.
The only way we can really know for sure
is to get in and get a good look.
Look at the size of it!
Right, before I jump in, I just want to show you what tigers can do
when they push the nasty button.
Tigers can vary their hunting strategy to whatever is available.
Even sea birds aren't safe.
There's not much that's subtle about their table manners.
Imagine carving a Sunday roast with a chainsaw
and you get the idea.
As we get into the water,
the dark shapes move further away from the boat.
While the dive team get down on to the bottom,
it's crucial that the surface team keep the bait coming in
to try and bring the shy tigers back and hopefully keep them interested.
I reckon that barracuda head could feed me for a week!
It's the perfect bait to bring tigers in.
Damn few lemons around, though.
Oh, look! We were right, there are tigers about!
That's just a youngster, though.
It's the same size as a fully grown lemon and it's just a baby.
Completely different size and shape, though.
And look at its back! The markings are much clearer at this age.
That is beautiful.
Do you see it's a bit less cocky than the lemon shark?
So graceful, though.
Go on. Go on, take it!
Yes! Look at that!
Wow, that is a powerful creature!
I reckon she's giving the guys on the surface a hard time.
Look at that thrashing!
Ah, she's got a face full of fish, though.
That's some reward.
Oh! Oh, look! That's a seriously big tiger coming in.
A huge female!
I reckon that must be double the size of the baby.
I bet that was the big shape we saw from the deck before.
It's coming... She's coming right in, right up to Simon!
I reckon she could swallow him in one go!
She's like a swimming bus!
I can't believe it! She's swimming right between us!
Really, really cautious.
The eyes are darting around.
I don't think she's scared, but she's certainly not aggressive.
This is why this place is called Tiger Beach.
Sun, sand and tigers.
I reckon in this situation the sharks are quite used to divers,
you can see they're totally relaxed, so it's safe for me to be here.
But that could change in a second.
Let's be honest, if I got bitten by that,
it would take more than a sticking plaster to fix it.
Here we go.
Now we're going to see her in action.
Look at that!
That is awesome.
Those guys on top better be ready for the pull.
I reckon she weighs, what, quarter of a tonne?
I hope I don't get any closer than this.
To be honest, she's being gentle.
Those teeth can go straight through a turtle's shell.
She's kind of more playing with it like a big puppy dog.
That was unbelievable!
I don't think Steve wants to come out.
He's like a kiddie in a sweet shop.
Well...all my years diving with sharks
and they still have the power to surpriseme.
Even that huge bulldog of a female Tiger
was just nosing cautiously between Simon the cameraman and I,
It was almost like she was being polite
and she didn't want to grab the bite, didn't want to jump the queue.
For all that though the tiger shark has to be on the Deadly 60.
They're big, they're powerful, they have enormous can opener teeth,
and they're one of the wonders of the ocean.
That was incredible.
You could argue that tiger sharks deserve the "deadly" tag
more than any other shark,
because they hunt so many things -
turtles, fish, seabirds, mammals.
Certainly not me though!
Join me next time...
Ah! I can't believe how close we are!
..for more deadly animal encounters.
Like a little glow-in-the-dark brooch.
This is officially the deadliest spider in the world
in terms of its venom.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Naturalist Steve Backshall heads to the Bahamas in order to get up close and personal with a whole bunch of sharks. There are plenty of shark species to choose from and Steve has his work cut out deciding which ones are worthy of a place on his Deadly 60 list.
Hooking up with shark scientists helps him decide and gives him an opportunity to release some baby sharks into the wild, and he learns how to hypnotise them with his bare hands. Getting mobbed by hungry reef sharks and swimming with a four-metre tiger shark are all in a day's work for Steve and the team!