Wildlife expert Steve Backshall continues his Deadly 60 mission, investigating tiger snakes, pelicans, and bottlenose dolphins down under.
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My name's Steve Backshall!
You can call me Steve.
I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60 -
that's 60 deadly creatures.
I'm travelling all over the world.
And you're coming with me every step of the way.
I'm on the search for animals to add to my Deadly 60 list.
Not all will be deadly to humans,
but they'll all be deadly in their own world.
We've come to Australia,
a continent that has so many lethal contenders
that I'm having to scour both the sea and the land.
It truly is an awesome place to see wildlife.
The sea is stuffed full of incredible creatures
all busy catching and killing each other.
And then there's the spiders.
Australia has more deadly spiders than anywhere else in the world.
And, of course, there's the crocs.
Australia can also boast
five of the top ten most venomous snakes in the world.
I'm gonna start my search here with one of them -
the highly venomous tiger snake.
Where better to start than a typical Aussie back yard?
I'm in the outskirts of Perth,
the largest city in Western Australia,
but this being Australia,
there's bound to be some contenders for my Deadly 60
even in people's back yards.
-Hi, Mitch. How are you doing?
-How you going, Steve?
Pretty good. This is a fantastic back yard - a good place to search.
We're gonna have an easy time catching things.
Excellent! Let's go look.
'This is Mitch Ladyman, and he's just bonkers about snakes.'
Basically, you know, to other people, it's rubbish,
but it's habitat for the animals.
I've gotta say,
this stuff here is perfect material for reptiles.
If any of you are wanting to have a wild corner of your garden
to attract slowworms, grass snakes, that kind of thing,
laying down a bit of corrugated iron like this is just perfect
because the snakes are attracted to lie underneath it
cos it generates warmth,
so I'm guessing that's why you've got this lot.
No, I'm doing a bit of building(!) STEVE LAUGHS
-Mate, you actually have a dunny!
Have a look at the view! I mean...
An archetypal image of Australia is the outdoors toilet, or dunny.
Have a look in there!
Just picture yourself with a newspaper, sun shining,
birds are singing.
Oh! Mate, that's a throne!
-Made for you!
-I love it! 'Yeah, thanks, Mitch!
'I think I'll wait till the cameras are off!'
One of the cardinal rules... of doing stuff like this
is never to put your fingers
where you can't see what's underneath them.
And that's particularly true here in Australia
where there's an awful lot of things that can give you a nasty bite.
It's just so hard to find things.
An infinite amount of places for things to hide.
-Oh, look, look, look!
-Oh, oh, oh!
-Oh-ho! Good catch!
Oh, dear! Don't bite!
-Thought that was a tiger snake for a second!
-Well done! So did I!
You saw that black form and thought, "Here we go!"
-Is this a king's skink?
-Yeah, mate, Egernia kingii.
Most people think they're like a coastal skink.
They hang out a lot on the limestone cliffs on the coast.
You can still get them on the local beaches
down in Perth's local foreshore.
Really robust - they eat insects, vegetation, all-sorts of stuff.
-Really quite strong, so...
..pretty much eat whatever comes along.
He is wonderful!
They don't hurt.
If you let them bite on... they'll bite...
-They'll let go...
-Look at that!
-..when they realise it's pointless.
That's great stuff!
-So, the jaw is incredibly powerful...
That REALLY hurts!
I can't believe you just made me do that!
I knew what I was getting in for.
I think it surprises half of the, er...
-Let go, please!
If you can imagine that on your knuckle or something like that,
so much more painful.
-He's starting to settle down now.
-That is wonderful.
-Yeah, he's so cute.
Well, he's pretty good,
but he's not going on my Deadly 60.
Look at that - he grabbed hold of my hand, didn't even make me bleed!
'So, if you get giant skinks in your back yard,
'what's lurking in the local park?
'I'm hoping for tiger snakes!'
Despite the fact that we are so close to all these houses,
this really is fantastic habitat for tiger snakes,
mostly because there's so much water, so many reeds, long grasses,
and that's perfect habitat for their main prey source, which is frogs.
If you're a snake and these super-fast frogs are on the menu,
then you want to be able to kill them quickly
so they don't hop away and leave you hungry.
That's exactly why the tiger snake's venom is SO strong
One bite and it's game over.
It's one thing to stop a frog dead in its tracks,
but here's the scary thing -
there's enough lethal venom in one bite from a tiger snake
to kill a handful of people.
Imagine you tread on one and it bites you.
The bite itself wouldn't feel that bad,
but inside your body, it's a very different story.
At first, your nerves stop firing
and you feel a tingling in your hands and feet,
then your muscles stop functioning properly,
you can't keep your eyes open and your throat starts to close.
Paralysis sets in.
Other toxins in the venom dissolve and eat your muscles.
It gets harder to move.
Meanwhile, your blood is being thickened into sticky clumps,
and as all the effects of the toxin combine, the organs start failing.
The muscles round your lungs seize up and you stop breathing.
If you don't get help in the form of anti-venom,
it could all be over within an hour.
You might think we're crazy to go looking for tiger snakes.
But both Mitch and I have been working with snakes for years.
We're all rooting for you!
-This way, mate.
Follow me, mate, you're more likely to catch something.
That's a good patch.
These basking platforms, they're perfect,
-cos they'll sit on there...
Oh, yeah, trying to get in front! I can run too!
Normally, I'd be going really slowly, really gently,
but because I'm all competitive, I'm half-running along!
To be honest, it's the best way,
because, really, the longer we take to come on top of them,
-the more chance they've got of getting away.
They are quite sensitive to disturbance,
so I've found, when I was doing research,
that walking at a good pace,
you know, all you're basically looking out for
is a black pile of shiny skin, so it's not like they're difficult,
and so you're better off just covering more ground.
Ah, got one!
'This method might look a bit gung-ho,
'but we're deadly serious.
'Using a snake hook like this keeps me at a safe distance
'and is also the gentlest way to handle the snake.'
It's all right, it's all right!
There's nothing worse than being patronised by an Australian!
So... There's another one.
Yep, all right... That's...
-Get a hook...
-Get out the way...
Didn't say a word, wasn't me!
Ah, this is just getting unfair.
See, the problem is, Steve, you SEE them, you gotta CATCH them.
I was waiting for Mark to go in and film it!
I was waiting for you to throw it at me!
There's one, right at the side here.
-Back off, back off!
-Two, two, two!
There was two, that's why I couldn't grab it. There was two.
See that, basking together?
I just launched down, I thought, "There's too many coils there!"
Nearly had it!
This is a big one. It IS a big one.
And it's gone.
-Yep, there you go.
All right, whip it out.
Go on, get it, get it, get it!
Wahey! Good save!
I got it, I got it.
-Oh! Well done!
We've been looking for... probably five minutes.
-This is incredible!
We are right on the outskirts
of the biggest city in Western Australia
-and I have in my hand...
..the fourth most toxic venomous snake in the world -
the tiger snake.
-Mitch, this is an absolute beauty.
-Yeah, it's cute.
Cute?! Only an Australian could describe a tiger snake as cute!
This is a snake
that needs to be treated with an amazing amount of respect
because drop by drop,
its venom is far more toxic than any of the cobras,
far more toxic than a king cobra, than a black mamba...
This has enough venom to bring down...
Mitch and I and probably the rest of the film crew as well.
But as you can see,
he has absolutely no interest in striking whatsoever.
What's wonderful about this
is that tiger snakes are in the same family as the cobras -
they're called elapids -
and you can actually see that it does have a hood.
It'll spread its body sideways,
making itself seem bigger that it actually is,
and standing a good portion of its body up off the ground as well.
-That is a classic cobra shape, isn't it?
For me, the reason the tiger snake is such an amazing predator
is just that it kills its prey so quickly, you know?
If you're feeding on a frog,
the last thing you want is to bite it,
for it to disappear into the reeds and you never find it again.
But if a tiger snake bites a frog, it's got minutes to live.
What you can see here...
Tiger snakes commonly have a reputation for charging people,
but you can see where that misconception comes from.
All this snake wants to do... is go straight back into the bush.
At the moment, he's heading straight for between my legs.
Just let him go.
This is the amount of confidence that I have...
..in this snake and its behaviour.
There's no way he was gonna bite me.
Heading off into the grass.
That is absolutely fantastic.
The thing that really gets me about this
is the fact that we've seen people wandering through here,
there's houses right there, but nobody here ever gets bitten.
In all the time I've been here, wandering around, like we're doing,
I'll actually have people pull over on their pushies, their push-bikes,
or stop while they're jogging in absolute disbelief,
and they say, "What are you doing?"
I say, "I'm studying tiger snakes."
They have no idea.
And the reason is, is because, this... I mean,
they're sitting along the edge in the vegetation,
minding their own business...
-The second anyone gets too close...
-Yep, they disappear.
As soon as he knows he's safe, he'll pick up speed
and he'll shoot into that bush like nobody's business.
Look at that, wonderful.
I have never seen anywhere with so many venomous snakes
this close to so many people.
With one of the most potent venoms on the planet,
a tiger snake can kill its frog prey in minutes.
And that's why it's going on the Deadly 60.
Time to get wet and check out some deadly predators in the sea.
This may sound obvious, but if you're a predator,
the main benefit to living in the sea is fish.
Beneath me, there could be huge, shimmering shoals of fish,
packed full of protein.
My next contender to the Deadly 60 are all masters at catching fish,
but they all have very different ways of doing it.
Look at that!
As soon as they get in the water, they are transformed!
He turns from a sluggish big boulder on the beach into a torpedo!
Oh, you're just showing off now!
This might look like fun,
but try and imagine if you were a fish being hunted by this!
You wouldn't stand any chance at all.
Sea lions are formidable predators.
They are super-fast, reaching speeds of up to 40km an hour,
twisting and turning their whole bodies,
so they can even catch fish that are right behind them.
Check THAT out for deadly accuracy!
They have fantastic eyesight and ultra-sensitive whiskers
that can sense the tiniest of ripples made by fish.
All of these skills combine to make it a truly awesome predator.
Where are ya?!
He's behind me!
And he's underneath me!
There's another predator round here that has a very different strategy
for killing fish.
How am I supposed to get out of here?!
I'm not taking YOUR hand!
-What you doing down there, Steve?!
There are two birds here that would
definitely be in contention for the Deadly 60.
The first ones are these cormorants down the front here,
but I think the birds up the top definitely have the edge -
I'm sure there's a fair few of you at home who are thinking,
"Steve has finally lost it.
"Pelicans - they're rubbish, they're like big, oversized ducks."
If you're one of those thinking that, have a look at this.
Brown pelicans cruise effortlessly looking for their next meal.
Once they've spotted their prey, they fold up their wings
and accelerate to speeds of up to 65km an hour,
hitting the water like a javelin.
It's a regular pelican pile-up.
Although they hit the water fast, they stop quickly,
because their lightweight skeleton
is packed with air spaces that keeps them buoyant.
One of their most dramatic physical characteristics
is their unbelievable bill. It's the longest of any bird.
What's particularly extraordinary about it,
you think of pelicans as having huge swollen sacks under their bills,
but you can see at the moment,
it's lying right flush against the underside of the bill.
What's amazing is that when they hit the water,
they fill that sack with an enormous amount of water.
If you're wondering quite how much that is,
I'm gonna try and show you with the help of my glamorous assistant,
Rich the sound man.
Rich, if you could just hold this bag out like this...
So if you imagine this is the sack underneath the bill of the pelican.
This is water.
Here we go...
13 litres of water!
I can barely carry it!
Can you imagine that hanging underneath the beak?!
Fortunately for the pelicans, they don't have to carry it around.
What they do is squeeze all the water out before eating the fish.
That can take about a minute,
and other birds keep trying to steal the fish left behind,
but finally, they do get to gulp it down.
Often, you'll see pelicans flying right over the surface of the water
and they can fly like that for a very long time.
It's not because they're too lazy to get up high and fly,
but because it's a very economical way of keeping in the air.
If you think of...waves... as being like this -
this is my rubbish drawing -
as wind blows along the surface of the wave,
it's driven up by the wave itself.
What this does is create lift,
so if a bird flies across here, it gets carried up by the wind.
You can see them almost cruising along with their wing tips
just grazing the top of the water,
and they can fly like that for miles, barely expending any effort.
I've got a little experiment to try and show you how this works.
Our researcher, John, is a dab hand...
with making paper aeroplanes.
I'm gonna see if this will lift up when it flies over the waves.
Don't worry, I AM gonna go and get it.
Here goes with a disastrous experiment...
If this works well, as this wave comes in,
it should lift the dart up.
Rats! Got another dart, John?!
-That was even worse!
You should write your name on it - whoever's flies best, wins!
It's the winner!
The crew has bombarded me with darts - one of them is gonna work!
Good luck, Steve!
Sound man Richard's deadly 747.
Yeah! That is the winner!
That one went backwards!
We can fairly safely say my science experiment is rubbish,
but the pelicans do it a lot better.
Be under no illusions -
pelicans are killing machines.
They're large, fast and deadly accurate,
securing them a place on my Deadly 60.
Another day, another boat.
I'm on the trail of possibly the finest fish-finder in the seas.
It's an animal you're familiar with.
With its distinctive curved dorsal fin,
its sleek grey profile
and its brutally sharp teeth.
This could well be the most perfect predator in the Deadly 60.
But it's identity might come as a bit of a surprise.
I'll give you a clue - Sarah here is going to be my guide
and they call her the Dolphin Girl.
Literally, five minutes out of the dock and already
a whole bunch of bottlenose dolphins have popped up alongside.
There's about six or seven animals and they are so close.
These ones are right up at the bow.
This is a family group, known as a pod.
We're hoping that they want to stay and play.
So how come cute and cuddly dolphins
get to be contenders on my Deadly 60?
Well, just bear with me and I'll show you.
There are so many reasons why dolphins have to be on my Deadly 60.
First, their streamlined bodies and powerful tails
mean they're incredibly fast.
They can easily outstrip a boat like this
and they can jump 16 feet out of the water.
That's as high as our sound man's boom pole.
But the thing that really sets them apart
is that dolphins are incredibly brainy.
Look at this.
If you can imagine, this green jelly here is about the size
and the weight of a human brain
and this pink one,
which has kind of fallen apart
is a bit of an embarrassment, really.
But that's about the size of a dolphin brain.
Having a brain that big, being that intelligent
means that dolphins can work together in teams,
and come up with all kinds of different strategies
for catching fish.
Brains taste good.
Using that superior brain power to work together as a team
means they can come up with astonishing strategies
for catching fish.
Check out these dolphins in Florida.
That ring of muddy water was actually made by a dolphin
swimming along the bottom
to churn up the mud with its tail.
The ring encircles a shoal of fish,
the fish think they're trapped, and as they leap out to escape,
the other dolphins are lying in wait.
But the really amazing thing
is they all take turns to churn up the mud
so everyone gets a chance to grab a fish dinner
and have a bit of fun as well.
These dolphins have come up with a completely different technique.
They're not rushing up to the beach for a bit of fun.
They're herding fish out of the water so they're easier to catch
and that means stranding themselves,
which is a very risky thing for a dolphin to do,
but they choose beaches with just the right slope
so they can roll back safely after grabbing the fish.
Getting this right
takes not only intelligence but agility as well.
Finally, as well as chatting with their whistles and clicks,
dolphins use sound to find and catch their prey.
Bursts of ultrasound echo off anything solid in the water,
giving the dolphins a kind of sound picture
which they can even beam to each other,
a bit like e-mailing a photo,
Their ultrasound even penetrates the sand,
so there's nowhere to hide,
but in order to really see them properly,
I have to join them in their world.
I tell you what, I absolutely hate my job.
OK. Wish me luck, guys.
Good luck, Steve.
OK, guys, go!
These motorised sleds actually give you an idea
of what it's like to be a dolphin
and help us keep up with these beautiful streamlined animals.
It's frustrating, because we can't hold our breath
anywhere near as long as a dolphin, we need to keep coming up for air.
They also seem to be having as much fun as we are
and this is even more special because these are
really wild dolphins, and they're choosing to play with us.
This is out of this world!
I've never seen anything like it before in my life.
Ah! That was out of this world!
And that's why dolphins are pretty much everyone's favourite animal.
But they're also fearsome hunters.
And that's why they're going on my Deadly 60.
Ultra-intelligent and adaptable,
perfectly streamlined and turbo-charged,
with built-in ultrasound and weapons systems,
dolphins have to be on my Deadly 60.
All in the name of science. Ow! That stung right through the suit.
Join me next time
as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.
Oh-ho! Getting up some speed now!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media LTD
Wildlife expert Steve Backshall heads for the Australian continent as he continues his Deadly 60 mission. Perth is home to one of Australia's deadliest snakes, the tiger snake. A surprise is in store as these snakes live right alongside the visitors to the city's local park.
With their unique way of catching their supper, pelicans prove to be worthy of a place on Steve's Deadly 60 list and a magical dive with bottlenose dolphins illustrates what incredible predators they are.