Philippines Deadly 60


Philippines

Wildlife series. Steve dives in the beautiful waters of the Philippines to check out a shark that spends most of the day 550 metres below the surface.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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'And this is my search for the Deadly 60.'

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Amazing!

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

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'but are deadly in their own world.'

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Ugh!

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'My crew and I are travelling the planet and you're coming with me every step of the way!'

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This deadly adventure begins here, in the Philippines.

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From the islands to the coasts, the coral reefs beneath

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and inland to the Philippine forests, this place is heaven for wildlife.

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The Philippines is a collection of thousands of small islands

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in the south-east corner of Asia.

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The pristine jungles and beautiful blue oceans

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are teeming with exotic wildlife

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and some of those animals are deadly.

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First up, we're going to look for an undersea predator, so the crew and I are heading out into the ocean.

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It's a little after four in the morning,

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which is a ridiculous time to be up, let alone going diving.

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I think the whole crew are a little bit grumpy.

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But we're also very, very excited,

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because off there in the darkness, underneath the waves,

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is an animal that I've waited my entire life to see.

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That animal is a thresher shark.

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They're extremely elusive, solitary animals.

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During the daytime the threshers prowl the abyss of the deep oceans.

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It's always dark there

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and less known by humans than the surface of the moon.

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But where the terrifying and little-known deep blue

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meets the shallower coastal seas

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is a safe zone where ocean giants hang out with other fish

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they'd usually munch for breakfast.

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It's almost like a salon for sharks.

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This is a cleaning station, where small fish, known as cleaner wrasse,

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do their job of giving big fish a wash and brush up.

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They only start work when the sun comes up.

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Timing now is absolutely everything.

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The animal we're looking for is a hunter

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that usually is either active at night or in the deep, deep sea.

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This is the only time when it's going to be up here at our level and we stand a chance of seeing them.

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So we need to get in as soon as possible. Are you ready, Si?

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-Ready to go.

-OK, let's rock.

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Did I just say "let's rock" on camera?

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-Yeah.

-Let's rock! Let's lock and load!

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So we have a narrow window between darkness and streaming light

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before our thresher sharks return to the deep.

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We're dropping down into the blue. This is really exciting!

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We're heading for one particular place.

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It's a real attractant for all kinds of fish.

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It's known as a cleaning station.

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There are lots of tiny fish in here

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whose job is to clean parasites off other fish.

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And they'll come in from miles around to take up that service.

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It's a great place to sit and wait

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to see some of the most spectacular creatures in the ocean.

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Fingers crossed.

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'I have less than an hour before my air runs out

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'and the opportunity is lost.'

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Normally when you're going out diving, you swim around over the reef

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trying to find stuff, whereas just sitting here

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and waiting for it to come to you is a little unusual.

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Oh, wow! Look at this!

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This is one of the most unusual jellyfish I've ever seen.

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It has a pulsating bowel

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which is used to drive it along through the water.

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And then, at the rear here,

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these tentacles are armed with stinging cells

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which it can use to paralyse and capture fish, which it then

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draws back to the mouth, under here.

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'A gently pulsating fish trap with venomous stings,

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'yet kind of looking like it's been made from orange jelly.'

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Oh, wow! Look at that!

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It's a devil ray.

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They're like incredible flying spacecraft underwater.

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And he's come in here

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for exactly the same reason as all the other large fish.

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He's come in to get cleaned.

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'But this cruising marine wonder is about to be totally eclipsed.'

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Si! Si, Si, look!

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Look! Simon!

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Right in front of us!

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Coming towards us.

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They're...

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Oh, my...

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It's a thresher shark.

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Look at the size of that tail!

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That is just insane.

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'No other shark has a tail like the thresher shark.

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'In fact, that tail is even longer than the rest of the body.

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'The thresher shark can grow as long as a minibus.

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'I shudder to think what a slap from that tail could do.'

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The thresher shark's tail is its deadly weapon.

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First of all, it'll corral a big shoal of fish,

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concentrating them into a tight ball.

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And then, whack!

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The tail goes slapping into the centre of it,

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knocking a couple of fish unconscious,

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and it will come in then and pick those off.

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You can see him just hovering there

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to allow the cleaner fish to come in and pick off

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parasites, dead scales and scabs.

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If you look at the thresher shark's body,

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it's completely different to any other type of shark.

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The eyes are very big and dark,

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so it can see down in the deep waters or at night.

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It has a small mouth

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because it only feeds on fish

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and doesn't need a massive mouth like a great white, that feed on mammals.

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I've waited my entire life to see one of these things

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and it's still utterly, utterly awe-inspiring.

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Don't go! Come on, come back!

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Oh, my goodness! It's coming straight towards me.

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I don't want to even breathe in case I scare him off.

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There's another one! There's another one coming behind it.

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This is ridiculous.

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'Until recently, nothing at all

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'was known about the lives of these secretive predators.'

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These are not social sharks. They don't stay together.

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It's only because of the cleaning station that they've come in

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and they're here together in a pair.

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Si, look at this! He's coming straight towards me.

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Look at that!

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He's so beautiful.

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'This is a shark that cruises the deep ocean.

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'The two pelvic fins are like the wings on a plane,

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'giving it lift through the water and saving it energy

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'as it glides gracefully in search of prey.'

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I can't believe this, Simon!

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This is one of the greatest things I've ever seen!

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Here's the other one!

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'Shafts of sunlight pierce the blue

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'and like a vampire the thresher heads for the dark of the deep sea.

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'My air is done, our encounter is over...

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'a life's ambition realised.'

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Well, that was worth travelling halfway round the world for.

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I guess I expected to see an awesome, awesome killing machine,

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but I didn't expect it to be so beautiful, so graceful.

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The thresher shark is definitely going on the Deadly 60.

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Unbelievable.

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hunting

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The thresher shark's one of my favourite animals on the Deadly 60.

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'As our threshers cruise down into the depths,

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'we're going in search of an animal that favours the shallowest of seas.

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'In fact, our next deadly predator moves easily between the sea and the dry land.'

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This imposing fortress of rock is our next deadly destination.

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It looks like the perfect place for an adventure, but there is a genuine reason for us coming here.

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One of the world's most venomous snakes lives here. There are hundreds hidden in rocks and crevices.

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Our challenge is to find some.

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That snake is a sea krait.

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It can survive on land and in the sea, where it hunts eels and fish.

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It's loaded with fiercely toxic venom

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that could theoretically kill several people.

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They are, however, not given to biting people

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and there are no records of these snakes ever killing a person.

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But I need to be careful, cos I certainly don't want to be the first.

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And I'm going to start my search on the nearby rocks.

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If you've seen Deadly 60 before, then you'll know that

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rock climbing and snakes are two of my favourite things in the world.

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So going rock climbing looking for snakes is kind of my idea of heaven.

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But there is a very real reason for this.

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If you look along the waterline here, you'll see the rock face is pockmarked with tiny holes,

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and that's where I think we're going to find our snake.

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Unfortunately, Johnny, my cameraman, is, er...

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He's pretty tough, but even he can't swim over there

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carrying that huge camera and climb up the rock face filming using it.

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So everything I see I'm going to have to film myself in a Deadly 60 style.

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Time to get wet.

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-Good luck, Stevie!

-'The boat can't get any closer to the rocks,

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'so to get there I'm going to have to swim,

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'without getting the bag with the camera in wet, of course.'

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There's an entrance to a cave here.

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I'm going to have a squeeze through and see what I can find.

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'The snake comes out onto the rocks after hunting in the sea

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'to chill out and digest its dinner,

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'so it's a good chance for me to get a closer look.'

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Kind of weird, this.

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Crawling into a deep cave

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looking for deadly, venomous snakes.

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Ooh! Look at that.

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I've got it. I've got my first yellow-lipped krait.

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It's the exact kind of snake that we came here to this island to find.

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'This has to be one of the strangest snake captures I've ever done,

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'hanging off the edge of a rock with a camera in one hand

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'and a venomous snake in the other.

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'So I've got to keep my wits about me and concentrate.'

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If you're wondering how it got the name "yellow-lipped sea krait",

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have a look at the front of its head.

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'The bright yellow marking across the front of its snout gives it its name.

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'The snake is just resting on the rocks,

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'but I want to see them in action.'

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But I'm not going looking up there.

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I'm going down there.

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'So I've got to get kitted up for diving and search for

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'one of these venomous snakes in their watery environment.'

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One, two, three.

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It's a really murky, spooky place, this.

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Just the kind of place you expect to find a sea monster

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or one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

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'The bright black and silvery blue bands are a warning colouration

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'that make it easy to spot.'

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Just lying resting on the wall here, curled up in the darkness.

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The yellow-lipped sea krait has a fiercely toxic venom,

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which works incredibly quickly on its chosen prey, but that isn't people,

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it's fish.

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The reason the venom needs to be so strong is that fish,

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once they're bitten, can swim away.

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If the venom is powerful enough to work quickly,

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the fish can't get far away and he gets a meal.

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Ah, look at that! He's doing a little swim-through.

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'The snake searches for prey that's hiding in the rocks.

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'Sea kraits swim slowly

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'and rely on their fearsome venom to instantly paralyse fish.

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'This is because they don't stand a chance

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'of catching a fish in a swimming pursuit.

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'The sea krait can easily take on prey its own size

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'before devouring it whole.

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'A meal this big will last for weeks.'

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That banded black and white colouration

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is incredibly pretty and it's there for a reason.

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These markings show potential predators that it's dangerous.

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They're a warning.

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Oh, wow! There's a big one!

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I can't believe how many there are here.

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'Sea snakes have one specialised, elongated lung,

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'meaning they can stay underwater for over two hours,

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'but because they're air-breathing reptiles,

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'they need to come to the surface to breathe.'

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The yellow-lipped sea krait is not dangerous to people at all.

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They're really not aggressive.

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But there's no getting away from the fact

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that it does have a ferocious venom.

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If it could get a decent bite on you,

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it would be all bad.

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'Catching a snake underwater is very different to on land.

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'I'm clumsy and cumbersome in dive gear and need to

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'make sure I handle it gently and don't let it feel too restrained.'

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The yellow-lipped sea krait.

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They're beautiful,

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they're not at all aggressive to us,

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but they're incredibly toxic, venomous fish killers.

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And for that reason,

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they're going on the Deadly 60.

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Yellow-lipped sea krait swims and slithers to my list.

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'So we're drying off and heading inland to the Philippine jungles.

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'Our next fierce creature only comes out at night.

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'I'm never one to miss an adventure, so as we wait for the sun to go down,

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'I'm going to drag the crew out to a nearby mangrove swamp,

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'in case we see something exciting.

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'This stork-billed kingfisher

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'is a mangrove forest resident and it's looking for a meal.

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'In the thick mangrove mud we find something that could be on its menu.'

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These mudskippers really are remarkable little fish.

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There's hundreds of them all round the water's edge here.

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They can breathe air.

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They're equally at home in the water or on land.

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The thing is, these fish are right at the bottom of the food chain.

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Almost everything round here would love to get a mouthful of one.

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So if they're attacked, they either scuttle for the water or the land.

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'With dusk approaching,

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'we need to get on the trail of our deadly animal.'

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Our next target animal

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is a vicious little demon that haunts these forests by night.

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It's an animal I've been hoping to see for many years,

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but they're very shy, very secretive and very, very rarely seen.

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They have tiny, pointed teeth

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and eyes are bigger than their own brain and they're called the tarsier.

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'The tarsier is one of the freakiest-looking animals

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'we'll see on the Deadly 60.

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'And when it comes to hunting at night,

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'this furry critter turns into a monster...

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'And munches its prey head first.

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'Grim!'

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During the daytime,

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tarsiers hang out in dense thickets and they don't do very much.

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But early evening, like now,

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is when they start heading out to try and find a meal.

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We're looking for a tiny, bouncing, hunting shape about this big.

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'We found a bouncing shape, but it's not a tarsier

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'and it says hello with a weird amphibian greeting.'

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Oh, you!

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Phantom wee-er of the Philippines!

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'This big, ugly critter is a cane toad

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'and we've already encountered him on the Deadly 60.'

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Even though it's an amphibian it's much bigger and heavier

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than the mammal that we're looking for.

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But he feeds on very much the same kind of things, so I guess

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he's something of a competitor, only he's down on the ground

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and the tarsiers are bouncing around looking for insects in the trees.

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'With our search focused on the trees, suddenly the shout goes up.

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'A springing shape has been spotted.'

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Oh, wow! Johnny. Johnny. Where's Johnny? Come in here.

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Oh, there he goes.

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OK, look. He's moving quite quickly, Johnny,

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so you'll have to stick with me... If I can stick with him. Wow!

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They don't half move.

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I'm sure he came through this way.

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'That bouncing bundle of deadliness just disappeared into the night.

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'But another intriguing beast is curdled up in the undergrowth.'

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That is a big old millipede.

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See if he'll unfurl on my hand.

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There he goes.

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The likelihood of a tarsier

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eating a millipede, like this anyway, is fairly slim.

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The reason is, they have their own defence in the way of a whole

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bunch of toxins that they secrete from down here near the leg joints.

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It's rather poisonous and it also tastes absolutely foul.

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I don't know that for a fact, I haven't tried to eat a millipede,

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but I guess a tarsier probably wouldn't either.

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OK. Back to the leaf litter for you.

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And back to our tarsier hunt.

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There! There! I see him. Johnny, come here.

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Up there, look.

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Coming down this tree here.

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Oh, he's going to bounce. He's looking off to his left.

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Off like a shot.

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We've found our tarsier.

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He's just sat in a tree just a couple of feet in front of me.

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The most remarkable, bizarre little gremlin I've ever seen.

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It's almost like a hodge-podge...

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a mix of other nocturnal animals.

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Those huge eyes and the swivelling, turning head

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are very much like you'd see in an owl.

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The great big, thin, membranous ears and those sharp teeth

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are more like those you'd see on a bat.

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But in its own way it's even more effective than either.

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This is the consummate killer of the night.

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Let's see if we can see those incredible teeth in action.

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He spotted it straight away.

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Look at those eyes. Straight on to it.

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Go on! It's incredible.

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He sprung in.

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Look at that. He's just a metre above my head.

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He's getting ready to spring.

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Yes!

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Oh! That was awesome. And he's going to settle down

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over there somewhere and munch his way through that huge cricket.

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Wow!

0:24:210:24:24

Back legs seem to be completely disproportionately long to the body

0:24:240:24:30

and allow it to make massive springs, bouncing in between the trees.

0:24:300:24:35

Particularly if he's seen an insect that he's going to leap on,

0:24:350:24:40

he could easily bounce three metres or so

0:24:400:24:44

to just about any tree around here.

0:24:440:24:48

So it's really, really difficult for poor Johnny, our cameraman,

0:24:480:24:52

to try and keep him in the shot. Look at that!

0:24:520:24:55

He's just the most impossible little gremlin.

0:24:550:24:58

His ears are moving in every direction,

0:24:580:25:01

focusing the sound, like a satellite dish.

0:25:010:25:04

And he's spotted something.

0:25:040:25:06

He's seen something. You can see his ear focus on it.

0:25:070:25:11

Then his head goes round. He sees it with his eyes and then... Boing!

0:25:110:25:15

Just pounces off and grabs it.

0:25:150:25:17

Then off. Whoa!

0:25:240:25:26

A pounce and a bite, all in one.

0:25:280:25:33

Look at that.

0:25:330:25:34

Mouth full to bursting.

0:25:340:25:37

Cheeks bulging with bush cricket.

0:25:370:25:40

They look like they weigh about half as much as he does.

0:25:400:25:44

Though the majority of their diet is made up of insects,

0:25:450:25:48

like this bush cricket, they will,

0:25:480:25:52

if it comes down to it, feed on mammals smaller than themselves.

0:25:520:25:56

Lizards, frogs.

0:25:560:25:58

They're not fussy.

0:25:580:26:00

This is a really friendly little tarsier. He's actually coming to me.

0:26:030:26:08

Look at that!

0:26:080:26:10

I think because I fed him before,

0:26:120:26:15

he instantly thinks that I'm a source of food,

0:26:150:26:18

so he's following me around.

0:26:180:26:21

That was incredible!

0:26:270:26:29

Yes! Oh!

0:26:330:26:35

Whoa! Look at that!

0:26:370:26:40

They rock.

0:26:420:26:44

The high-bouncing gremlin of the jungle,

0:26:490:26:52

the tarsier, is on the Deadly 60.

0:26:520:26:54

..the tarsier boings and bounces on to my list.

0:27:090:27:13

Coming up next time...

0:27:190:27:21

Aaagh! Ooh! Hoo!

0:27:220:27:26

Here they come.

0:27:260:27:27

Ooh!

0:27:310:27:32

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:410:27:45

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:450:27:49

Steve dives in the beautiful waters of the Philippines to check out a shark that spends most of the day 550 metres below the surface. He swims with one of the deadliest snakes on the planet and searches the jungle for a tarsier, a lethal predator who eats his victims head first.


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