Baja California, Mexico Deadly 60


Baja California, Mexico

Wildlife series. On a trip to Mexico, Steve Backshall takes to the water in search of a monster of the deep seas and searches for snakes in the desert.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!

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And this is my mission to find the Deadly 60.

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That's not just animals that are deadly to me,

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but animals that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are exploring the planet

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and you're coming with me every step of the way.

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For this brand new series, I've decided to come

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to one of the deadliest deserts on the planet.

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This is Mexico.

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Specifically the Baja Peninsula.

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There's more venomous and poisonous creatures here

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than just about anywhere else I know.

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In fact, this is a place that has to be taken really, really seriously.

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MARIACHI MUSIC

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HE SIGHS

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This programme is a game of two halves

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and two environments that couldn't be more different.

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We'll be back in the dry desert later on,

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but our first lethal creature is a monster of the deep seas.

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To lure one up from the depths

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I'm going to need a whole bunch of high-tech kit,

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a boat and a bit of local help.

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Over the last few years looking for deadly animals

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there's been one that I've heard more crazy stories about

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and has captured my imagination more than any other

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and that's why we're here in the Sea of Cortez.

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These guys are fishermen looking for the exact animal

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that we're trying to find.

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The call it Diablo Rojo which is the red devil

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and they tell stories of them ripping fishermen from their boats

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and tearing them to shreds.

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I don't know about any of that, but what I do know for sure

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is that this is one of the most dangerous animals we're going to see

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and it's called the Humboldt squid.

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The dark depths of the Sea of Cortez are teeming with Humboldt squid,

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but catching one requires serious effort.

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They're fearsomely strong and can be as long as a car.

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These fishermen usually catch the squid for food,

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but tonight, we just want to come face to...tentacle with one.

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Camera.

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So what's happening now is these guys are putting lines

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way, way deep down. During the day these squid are about 200m plus

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under water, but now it's dusk time, the sun is going down

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and they'll be coming closer and closer to the surface to feed.

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So they're going to trawl around, see if they can pull something in.

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And when they do, we'll see our first squid.

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'I have so much respect for these fishermen,

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'dragging up squid with just a line,

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'a lure and a whole lot of sweat.'

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We've got something big coming in.

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I'm so excited!

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STEVE PANTS

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MAN SPEAKS SPANISH

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STEVE GIGGLES

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How much line has he put in here?!

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I see it! I see something! I can see a light shape coming towards us.

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Here it comes.

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Oh, no, look at that!

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Yes! Yes! Wow!

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Look at the colours pulsing down the body.

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I can't believe it!

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There's the beak he's pointing out to us there.

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That's the danger end.

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I can't believe he's letting his fingers get that close to it.

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Look at that! It's like a giant parrot's beak.

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And it can cut straight through flesh and even bone.

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It would easily take off one of my fingers. Right,

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look down the length of all of these tentacles.

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Each one has sucker cups running all the way down the length of it

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and every one of those sucker cups is ringed with razor-sharp teeth.

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Look at that!

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They're like the teeth of a piranha.

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They'll slice straight through flesh and they use those to catch a hold

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of slippery sardines and small fish

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that they're going to be eating and draw them in. I don't believe it.

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Our next step has to be get in the water

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and get close to them in their own environment.

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'Even a small squid like this,

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'with those sucker teeth and that ferocious beak,

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'could do me some serious damage.

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'Imagine what a squadron of fully grown ones could do.

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'For protection, safety diver Scott, cameraman Simon and I

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'have to wear chainmail suits like medieval knights...

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'going scuba diving.

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'Another danger is being dragged down into the deep ocean

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'by several squid at once, so we'll be attached to the boat

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'by steel safety cables.

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'And we're also going to be in radio contact with the surface...'

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That's fantastic, mate. Over.

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'..so they'll know if we have a problem.

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'We don't need to dive deep. At night there's a good chance

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'the big squid will come up to the surface to feed.'

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You OK, Steve?

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Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine.

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Purge, please.

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'Squadrons of as many as 1,200 squid

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'patrol the darkness looking for prey.

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'They'll tear apart anything they can overpower,

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'including unwary scuba divers.

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'And from the darkness, Scott spots a squid just below the boat

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'and it's a good size.'

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Look at that!

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Wow!

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'At first, he didn't seem that pleased to see us.'

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Look at all the ink it's squirting into the water!

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That's the method the squid uses to get away from its predators,

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because no predator is going to know where it is

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behind that smokescreen.

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Look at it now, covering the camera!

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OK, I'm going to, very gently, just try and take control of the head.

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Oh, I've got it!

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I've got my first Humboldt squid underwater!

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Now you can see why they call it the Red Devil or the Red Demon.

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The water is just full of ink!

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Oh, crikey! He just made a lunge for the camera lens there.

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Wow!

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Oh!

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So strong!

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That is amazing.

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'I'm handling this squid very carefully, and for good reason.

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'As well as their hooked beak and serrated suckers,

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'they're incredibly strong.

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'They can move in any direction in an instant,

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'by either flapping their fins or using a water jet called a siphon.'

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Look there, it's got its tentacles around my arm

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and I can feel the gripping of those teeth.

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Actually, you can feel it even through the chainmail suit.

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And here, that's where that snapping beak is.

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Just there.

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I want to take great care not to get my fingers close to it,

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because I think I'd lose them.

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Well, I know I'd lose them.

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That's the really ferocious bit of the Humboldt squid.

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Ooh, look at the colour change there!

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It's bright red. Look at the pulsing there.

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'Even though this squid seems calm,

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'you can never be too careful with a fierce predator like this.

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'Good job safety diver Scott was on hand.'

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It's actually... Argh!

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Oh, dear, me! This... Argh!

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The strength of the beak -

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it just actually bit me right through the chainmail suit.

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It really pinched my arm.

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You can see how easy it would be

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for a creature like this to power itself away, using that siphon.

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But also, to create that smokescreen

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that is going to make it almost impossible

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for another predator that uses sight to hunt by

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to find the Humboldt squid.

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That really is one of the weirdest,

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most beautiful, creatures I've ever seen.

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OK, Scott.

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I'm just going to release it now.

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Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

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That really is a sea monster,

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if ever I saw one.

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I've never seen such a remarkable creature

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underwater in my entire life.

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Ha! I don't think anyone's going to doubt that the Humboldt squid

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has got to go in the Deadly 60.

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Jet-propelled through the water,

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with a scalpel-sharp beak

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and over 16,000 sucker cup teeth,

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the Humboldt squid is one of the most genuinely scary killers

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on the Deadly 60.

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'So, back to the desert -

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'a hot, dry place where you can go days without finding water.

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'Ah... Busted(!)'

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For the next few days, we're going to be staying

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at this wonderful, deserted, run-down cattle ranch.

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It's an amazing little oasis in the middle of nowhere

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and there's incredible wildlife right here.

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Let me show you around.

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Do you mind?

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Thank you(!) Right, come this way.

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That's my bed down there, under the stars.

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In here, where the other guys are sleeping,

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some of them in hammocks, look.

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Some people working hard. There's James.

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Keep coming.

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That's Nick the soundman's bed.

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And check this out.

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We've got our own mango tree. Nick, can you get your boom pole in?

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Argh! Ha-ha!

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Look at that Perfectly ripe mangoes.

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CRUNCH!

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NICK GUFFAWS

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That one's not ripe, at all!

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Totally fresh, ripe mangoes.

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SQUELCH!

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Mmm.

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I think this used to be some of the stables

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and now...it's our kit room.

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-There's Emma working...

-Hello!

-..and all our boxes of stuff here.

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At night, this place is absolutely full of snakes and scorpions.

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I love this place!

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'Our next target may be the most gruesome, savage critter

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'we've seen yet. And this is just the sign I'm looking for.'

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I just noticed something this morning, while I was having my bath,

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something interesting, just over here.

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It's a tarantula burrow, but there's a twist.

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It's not a giant spider we're looking for, for the list.

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It's something that eats them alive!

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Let's meet our spider first.

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Now, this won't do her any harm...

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..but it might get us a good look at her.

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There she is.

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I'm just using my knife here to block off the entrance

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to the burrow, so she can't get back in again.

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I just want to do this easily.

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I don't want to damage her burrow

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and certainly not damage her.

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Let's see if we can get her in the hand.

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Although their venom is not very strong,

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they can give you a very nasty, unpleasant, painful bite.

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And that is because of those fangs. I don't know if you can see those.

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If I just hold her up to you...

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I know, for a lot of people,

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a spider like this is their worst nightmare,

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but round here, there's an animal that is the absolute sworn enemy

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of the tarantula.

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And that's what I'm really hoping to find, for my Deadly 60 list.

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'What kind of creature would have the guts to take on a giant spider?

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'Well, it's a monster insect -

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'the largest wasp in the world.'

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'In the dense trees,

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'we heard the animal before we saw it.'

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Oh, there's one, look.

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Yeah, it's coming this way, Steve.

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'This fast-flying, buzzing bundle of deadliness

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'is out hunting spiders.

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'It's called a tarantula hawk wasp.'

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Here it comes, here it comes.

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What he's doing at the moment is just circling around this area

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trying to find his food.

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'It's in search of a tarantula, just like the one we've just found.'

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Has he found one?

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Oh... OK.

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We could be about to see one of the most incredible spectacles

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in the animal kingdom.

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I can't quite believe this is happening,

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but that hole there...

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..is the hole of a tarantula.

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When the wasp locates a spider,

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it will out manoeuvre it, like a kung-fu master,

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and deliver a single paralysing sting.

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The spider's still alive, but completely defenceless.

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This is only half the story.

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The paralysed spider is dragged by the wasp to a safe burrow,

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where it will lay an egg, which will hatch into a maggot,

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which will slowly devour the spider while it is still alive.

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-It's coming out, it's coming out, it's coming out.

-Got him.

-OK.

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Right. I've got to be ever so careful how I do this,

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because the tarantula hawk wasp

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has a sting that's reputed to be

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the most painful

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of any invertebrate.

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Ooh! And he's off! No, come back!

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'Ah. Yeah, that wasn't a great time

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'to break my net.'

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Got it! Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it!

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Oh, no! He went in the hole!

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Oh, no, I can't believe it! That's so frustrating!

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You come back here now!

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I had him

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and I've got a great big hole in my net.

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And he just flew straight out through it.

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-He's coming this way, Steve.

-Right.

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Got her. Got her. Right.

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Now, this time, you are not getting away.

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I've got to be ever so careful. I don't want to damage her,

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but also, her sting is absolutely paralysing.

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There she is.

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That...

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..is the tarantula hawk wasp, or pepsis wasp.

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And she is...

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..one of the most incredible predators

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found anywhere in the world.

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Look at the size of her sting.

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(Right. There we go.)

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Look at that.

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Glorious, glorious colour -

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very vibrant metallic blue,

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with bright orange wings,

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but don't let her beauty fool you.

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This is one the most grotesque killers

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in the whole of the animal kingdom.

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This creature here has a strength way beyond her size

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and a sting that, well,

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if I was to get stung by this,

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I would be able to think about nothing else for at least 24 hours.

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It's way up there with being the most painful sting

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of any insect on the planet.

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But she is incredible.

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Look at the mandibles. Look at the size

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of these jaws here.

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So strong.

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So, I don't think there is any doubt

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that the tarantula hawk wasp has got to go on the Deadly 60.

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I'm just hoping that, when we let her go,

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she doesn't try and take it all out on me.

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The biggest wasp in the world.

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Takes on giant tarantula spiders.

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And is armed with a vicious sting.

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The tarantula hawk wasp is on the Deadly 60.

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'That's two deadly critters down

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'and living nightmares are coming out of the woodwork.'

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From a distance, this probably looks just like an earthworm.

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Victor, our snake guy,

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actually found this burrowing not so far away from here.

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It's not until you look up close that you realise quite how weird

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this is. They call them mole lizards and if you look closely,

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you'll see it, kind of, almost burrowing forward, like a mole,

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using those two front legs.

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It's not actually a lizard at all, though.

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It is a reptile,

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but they are completely distinct from the other snakes and lizards.

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They are in a group all to themselves and they feed on

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invertebrates, insects and things

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they find when burrowing beneath the soil.

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And you have to say,

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they are one of the oddest creatures on the planet.

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Perfect!

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'Many animals are forced into hiding by the heat of the day,

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'so by searching at night,

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'we are going to find a whole load of different creatures.'

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Look at that.

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'Straight away, we run into an old favourite -

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'scorpions.'

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Oh, there's another one. And another one!

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There's about four in one little tiny area here. Look at this.

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I have never seen so many scorpions in my entire life.

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I have got here this special torch, which can help me to see scorpions,

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so I'm going to try...two minutes?

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And see how many scorpions I can find.

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If everyone else knocks off their lights...

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let's see what we can get.

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OK, ready?

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-And you're off.

-OK.

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There's one. Down there.

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On the ground.

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Three seconds, one scorpion.

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There's a bit of a tail, up there.

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Two.

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These palm trees... Loads of places for them to hide.

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Absolutely perfect for scorpions.

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There's another one there, look.

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Johnny, can you see that one?

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Little flat one, up there.

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Oop!

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There's one.

0:20:290:20:31

Under there, look.

0:20:310:20:32

Ooh, there's one, look. Johnny?

0:20:330:20:36

That's a lot of scorpions.

0:20:360:20:38

And that's time up.

0:20:380:20:39

-What did you think about that?

-A lot of scorpions.

-A lot of scorpions.

0:20:390:20:42

Are we sleeping here tonight?

0:20:420:20:44

Er...

0:20:440:20:45

Maybe!

0:20:450:20:46

Good, excellent(!)

0:20:460:20:48

I think the lesson is, make sure you look before you lie down.

0:20:480:20:53

-Understood?

-Can I have that torch now, please?!

0:20:530:20:55

-Cheers, I'll just keep hold of it.

-Can we all have one of those?

0:20:550:20:59

'After a good night's sleep, we get an early wake-up call

0:21:050:21:08

'from a friendly cow.'

0:21:080:21:10

'At least, I hope she's friendly.

0:21:100:21:13

'It will take more than that to get my lazy crew out of bed!'

0:21:130:21:18

Ha-ha-ha!

0:21:190:21:21

Very good job.

0:21:210:21:22

SLURPING

0:21:220:21:25

'No better way to start the day than a quick splash in the stream.'

0:21:250:21:29

# How do you wanna get out of bed this morning...? #

0:21:290:21:33

'But...

0:21:330:21:34

'we're not alone.'

0:21:340:21:36

Dave, look, a snake's come past.

0:21:360:21:38

Wow! What an amazing start!

0:21:500:21:53

Just woken up, taking a bath, and already got our first snake.

0:21:540:22:01

'It's called a Cape water snake.'

0:22:010:22:04

Quite aggressive, not surprisingly, because I've just picked him up.

0:22:040:22:08

But, erm, he's not venomous,

0:22:080:22:12

so I'm not too bothered.

0:22:120:22:14

He doesn't like the microphone on top of the camera.

0:22:140:22:16

He obviously thinks it's something threatening

0:22:160:22:19

and he keeps having a bit of a lunge at it, like that, look.

0:22:190:22:22

Oh!

0:22:220:22:23

I think your microphone's dead, Johnny. He-he-he!

0:22:250:22:27

Right. Let's put him back.

0:22:310:22:32

'We'd barely started and we were already tripping over snakes.

0:22:330:22:37

'This place is Serpent Central!'

0:22:380:22:41

-OK, turn back, crew.

-Ow! Got bit.

0:22:440:22:48

'First up, a coachwhip in the kit room...'

0:22:480:22:50

Oh, sorry, Johnny!

0:22:500:22:52

'..not as pleased to see me as I was to see him.'

0:22:520:22:55

Ooh, he's very... Ow!

0:22:550:22:57

'They're not venomous, but have certainly got a fiery temper.'

0:22:570:23:00

Ow!

0:23:000:23:01

'Second, another coachwhip.

0:23:010:23:05

'And this one a real whopper.'

0:23:050:23:06

I've never seen one anything like this size.

0:23:100:23:12

'We were falling over snakes, without leaving camp,

0:23:140:23:18

'so what might we find if we actually started looking for them?

0:23:180:23:22

'Well, I've got one kind of snake in mind.'

0:23:220:23:25

Hey, yeah, you beauty!

0:23:260:23:29

OK, guys.

0:23:300:23:31

No.

0:23:360:23:37

Don't go anywhere.

0:23:370:23:38

I didn't want to say anything, cos I didn't want to tempt fate,

0:23:400:23:44

but this was exactly the animal I've come here hoping to find.

0:23:440:23:48

Got it. Got it. Yeah.

0:23:480:23:50

This is the snake

0:23:530:23:56

of the Baja Peninsula.

0:23:560:23:58

It's a red diamond rattlesnake.

0:23:580:24:01

If I lay it down,

0:24:020:24:04

you can see the distinctive diamond-shaped pattern

0:24:040:24:07

running all the way down its back.

0:24:070:24:09

The colouration on that can be a really vibrant red,

0:24:090:24:12

which is where it gets its name from.

0:24:120:24:14

The rattle's not used at all in actually catching its prey.

0:24:170:24:21

The whole purpose of it is getting rid of animals

0:24:210:24:24

that are big and might threaten it,

0:24:240:24:26

but are far too big for it to try and eat.

0:24:260:24:28

Rattlesnakes are in a group of snakes called the pit vipers,

0:24:300:24:34

and if you look very closely at his head, you'll see,

0:24:340:24:37

in between the nostril and the eye

0:24:370:24:39

a tiny pit which can sense heat

0:24:390:24:42

in the moving muscles of the things it feeds on.

0:24:420:24:44

It's actually quite a lazy snake.

0:24:440:24:47

I mean, the way it was sitting when we found it is how it will spend

0:24:470:24:50

its entire day and sometimes two or three days at a time

0:24:500:24:54

until a warm-blooded animal like a small mouse walks past.

0:24:540:24:58

And then, the movement is like lightning.

0:24:580:25:01

It's less of a bite, really, and more of stab.

0:25:010:25:06

The teeth plunge into the prey

0:25:070:25:09

more like an assassin with a very sharp dagger

0:25:090:25:12

and then it retreats and waits for the animal to die.

0:25:120:25:16

'Despite being the world's noisiest snakes,

0:25:190:25:22

'rattlesnakes are still, like most snakes, incredibly hard to find.

0:25:220:25:26

'They'll lie low if a human approaches,

0:25:260:25:28

'so you can spend weeks searching and not find a single one.'

0:25:280:25:32

If you were a mouse,

0:25:320:25:33

you wouldn't last seconds with the red diamond rattlesnake.

0:25:330:25:37

He's definitely going on ...

0:25:370:25:38

'Hold your horses, Backshall! We're not done yet.

0:25:380:25:42

'After that, it was a regular rattlesnake round-up.'

0:25:420:25:45

They're everywhere! I don't believe it!

0:25:450:25:47

Wow, that is a very heavy-bodied snake.

0:25:470:25:51

'First was another, bigger red diamond rattler 100m away.'

0:25:510:25:55

Look how thick and heavy the body is.

0:25:550:25:58

Look at that. That's a big, venomous snake.

0:26:020:26:04

Really big.

0:26:040:26:07

'Two rattlesnakes in ten minutes! Surely it couldn't get any better?

0:26:070:26:11

'Well, as the light began to fade, something really special happened -

0:26:130:26:18

'a Baja rattler. This is the only place in the world they're found.'

0:26:180:26:22

Ooh! There's a completely different species of rattlesnake

0:26:220:26:26

just over here.

0:26:260:26:27

Right. Stay there.

0:26:270:26:28

It's OK. It's OK, it's all right.

0:26:280:26:31

-SNAKE RATTLES

-Listen to that!

0:26:310:26:33

This one's a lot more active.

0:26:360:26:39

This place is absolutely crawling with rattlesnakes.

0:26:390:26:43

I don't believe it! Come round, guys.

0:26:440:26:48

'And then, to top off the best snake-hunting day I've ever had,

0:26:480:26:52

'a speckled rattlesnake.' Look at that tail going!

0:26:520:26:56

'That's three kinds in one day - a hat-trick,

0:26:560:26:59

'or to coin another footballing phrase, back of the net.'

0:26:590:27:03

And there it is.

0:27:030:27:05

Well, this has been one of the best snake-catching days of my life,

0:27:090:27:15

and there's no way I can leave here

0:27:150:27:17

without putting all of the rattlesnakes of the Baja Peninsula

0:27:170:27:22

onto my Deadly 60.

0:27:220:27:23

Right, off you go, fella.

0:27:230:27:26

'With the ability to see its prey in complete darkness...

0:27:260:27:31

'..its strike is done in half a second,

0:27:330:27:36

'and with venom that can kill its prey in 20 seconds...

0:27:360:27:40

'Baja's rattlesnakes are all on the Deadly 60.'

0:27:400:27:45

'Join me next time, as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.'

0:27:470:27:53

Unbelievable!

0:27:530:27:56

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:040:28:06

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:060:28:09

Steve travels to the deadliest desert on the planet, the Baja peninsula in Mexico, where he goes searching for a gruesome savage killer in the form of a tarantula hawk wasp. This predator lays an egg in its tarantula prey, which hatches into a maggot, which then eats the spider from the inside - while it's still alive! It is the biggest wasp in the world and has a paralysing sting which makes even Steve nervous - that doesn't stop him handling it though.

The desert of Baja, Mexico, is serpent central and Steve has the time of his life catching snakes. These include a cape water snake, and a coachwhip snake that catches Steve unaware and lands a cheeky bite on his hand. He then embarks on a regular rattlesnake round-up, clocking up encounters with the venomous red diamond and Baja rattlesnakes before an encounter with a speckled rattlesnake tops off the best snake-hunting day Steve has ever had in his life.

Steve also takes to water in the Sea of Cortez in search of a monster of the deep seas. Known locally as the Red Devil, legend talks of its ability to snatch fishermen from their boats before tearing them to shreds - it is the Humboldt squid. Snatching fishermen is probably a little far-fetched, but Steve takes no chances and wears chain mail to protect him from the squid's razor-sharp beak and its 16 thousand sucker cup teeth.

Incidental finds which don't make it onto Steve's list are a mole lizard which looks like one of the oddest creatures on the planet and a torchlit walk in the local vicinity which reveals he and his crew are literally surround by scorpions.


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