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.
Browse content similar to Philippines. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
My name's Steve Backshall.
'And this is my search for the Deadly 60.'
'That's not just animals that are deadly to me,
'but are deadly in their own world.'
'My crew and I are travelling the planet and you're coming with me every step of the way!'
This deadly adventure begins here, in the Philippines.
From the islands to the coasts, the coral reefs beneath
and inland to the Philippine forests, this place is heaven for wildlife.
The Philippines is a collection of thousands of small islands
in the south-east corner of Asia.
The pristine jungles and beautiful blue oceans
are teeming with exotic wildlife
and some of those animals are deadly.
First up, we're going to look for an undersea predator, so the crew and I are heading out into the ocean.
It's a little after four in the morning,
which is a ridiculous time to be up, let alone going diving.
I think the whole crew are a little bit grumpy.
But we're also very, very excited,
because off there in the darkness, underneath the waves,
is an animal that I've waited my entire life to see.
That animal is a thresher shark.
They're extremely elusive, solitary animals.
During the daytime the threshers prowl the abyss of the deep oceans.
It's always dark there
and less known by humans than the surface of the moon.
But where the terrifying and little-known deep blue
meets the shallower coastal seas
is a safe zone where ocean giants hang out with other fish
they'd usually munch for breakfast.
It's almost like a salon for sharks.
This is a cleaning station, where small fish, known as cleaner wrasse,
do their job of giving big fish a wash and brush up.
They only start work when the sun comes up.
Timing now is absolutely everything.
The animal we're looking for is a hunter
that usually is either active at night or in the deep, deep sea.
This is the only time when it's going to be up here at our level and we stand a chance of seeing them.
So we need to get in as soon as possible. Are you ready, Si?
-Ready to go.
-OK, let's rock.
Did I just say "let's rock" on camera?
-Let's rock! Let's lock and load!
So we have a narrow window between darkness and streaming light
before our thresher sharks return to the deep.
We're dropping down into the blue. This is really exciting!
We're heading for one particular place.
It's a real attractant for all kinds of fish.
It's known as a cleaning station.
There are lots of tiny fish in here
whose job is to clean parasites off other fish.
And they'll come in from miles around to take up that service.
It's a great place to sit and wait
to see some of the most spectacular creatures in the ocean.
'I have less than an hour before my air runs out
'and the opportunity is lost.'
Normally when you're going out diving, you swim around over the reef
trying to find stuff, whereas just sitting here
and waiting for it to come to you is a little unusual.
Oh, wow! Look at this!
This is one of the most unusual jellyfish I've ever seen.
It has a pulsating bowel
which is used to drive it along through the water.
And then, at the rear here,
these tentacles are armed with stinging cells
which it can use to paralyse and capture fish, which it then
draws back to the mouth, under here.
'A gently pulsating fish trap with venomous stings,
'yet kind of looking like it's been made from orange jelly.'
Oh, wow! Look at that!
It's a devil ray.
They're like incredible flying spacecraft underwater.
And he's come in here
for exactly the same reason as all the other large fish.
He's come in to get cleaned.
'But this cruising marine wonder is about to be totally eclipsed.'
Si! Si, Si, look!
Right in front of us!
Coming towards us.
It's a thresher shark.
Look at the size of that tail!
That is just insane.
'No other shark has a tail like the thresher shark.
'In fact, that tail is even longer than the rest of the body.
'The thresher shark can grow as long as a minibus.
'I shudder to think what a slap from that tail could do.'
The thresher shark's tail is its deadly weapon.
First of all, it'll corral a big shoal of fish,
concentrating them into a tight ball.
And then, whack!
The tail goes slapping into the centre of it,
knocking a couple of fish unconscious,
and it will come in then and pick those off.
You can see him just hovering there
to allow the cleaner fish to come in and pick off
parasites, dead scales and scabs.
If you look at the thresher shark's body,
it's completely different to any other type of shark.
The eyes are very big and dark,
so it can see down in the deep waters or at night.
It has a small mouth
because it only feeds on fish
and doesn't need a massive mouth like a great white, that feed on mammals.
I've waited my entire life to see one of these things
and it's still utterly, utterly awe-inspiring.
Don't go! Come on, come back!
Oh, my goodness! It's coming straight towards me.
I don't want to even breathe in case I scare him off.
There's another one! There's another one coming behind it.
This is ridiculous.
'Until recently, nothing at all
'was known about the lives of these secretive predators.'
These are not social sharks. They don't stay together.
It's only because of the cleaning station that they've come in
and they're here together in a pair.
Si, look at this! He's coming straight towards me.
Look at that!
He's so beautiful.
'This is a shark that cruises the deep ocean.
'The two pelvic fins are like the wings on a plane,
'giving it lift through the water and saving it energy
'as it glides gracefully in search of prey.'
I can't believe this, Simon!
This is one of the greatest things I've ever seen!
Here's the other one!
'Shafts of sunlight pierce the blue
'and like a vampire the thresher heads for the dark of the deep sea.
'My air is done, our encounter is over...
'a life's ambition realised.'
Well, that was worth travelling halfway round the world for.
I guess I expected to see an awesome, awesome killing machine,
but I didn't expect it to be so beautiful, so graceful.
The thresher shark is definitely going on the Deadly 60.
The thresher shark's one of my favourite animals on the Deadly 60.
'As our threshers cruise down into the depths,
'we're going in search of an animal that favours the shallowest of seas.
'In fact, our next deadly predator moves easily between the sea and the dry land.'
This imposing fortress of rock is our next deadly destination.
It looks like the perfect place for an adventure, but there is a genuine reason for us coming here.
One of the world's most venomous snakes lives here. There are hundreds hidden in rocks and crevices.
Our challenge is to find some.
That snake is a sea krait.
It can survive on land and in the sea, where it hunts eels and fish.
It's loaded with fiercely toxic venom
that could theoretically kill several people.
They are, however, not given to biting people
and there are no records of these snakes ever killing a person.
But I need to be careful, cos I certainly don't want to be the first.
And I'm going to start my search on the nearby rocks.
If you've seen Deadly 60 before, then you'll know that
rock climbing and snakes are two of my favourite things in the world.
So going rock climbing looking for snakes is kind of my idea of heaven.
But there is a very real reason for this.
If you look along the waterline here, you'll see the rock face is pockmarked with tiny holes,
and that's where I think we're going to find our snake.
Unfortunately, Johnny, my cameraman, is, er...
He's pretty tough, but even he can't swim over there
carrying that huge camera and climb up the rock face filming using it.
So everything I see I'm going to have to film myself in a Deadly 60 style.
Time to get wet.
-Good luck, Stevie!
-'The boat can't get any closer to the rocks,
'so to get there I'm going to have to swim,
'without getting the bag with the camera in wet, of course.'
There's an entrance to a cave here.
I'm going to have a squeeze through and see what I can find.
'The snake comes out onto the rocks after hunting in the sea
'to chill out and digest its dinner,
'so it's a good chance for me to get a closer look.'
Kind of weird, this.
Crawling into a deep cave
looking for deadly, venomous snakes.
Ooh! Look at that.
I've got it. I've got my first yellow-lipped krait.
It's the exact kind of snake that we came here to this island to find.
'This has to be one of the strangest snake captures I've ever done,
'hanging off the edge of a rock with a camera in one hand
'and a venomous snake in the other.
'So I've got to keep my wits about me and concentrate.'
If you're wondering how it got the name "yellow-lipped sea krait",
have a look at the front of its head.
'The bright yellow marking across the front of its snout gives it its name.
'The snake is just resting on the rocks,
'but I want to see them in action.'
But I'm not going looking up there.
I'm going down there.
'So I've got to get kitted up for diving and search for
'one of these venomous snakes in their watery environment.'
One, two, three.
It's a really murky, spooky place, this.
Just the kind of place you expect to find a sea monster
or one of the most venomous snakes in the world.
'The bright black and silvery blue bands are a warning colouration
'that make it easy to spot.'
Just lying resting on the wall here, curled up in the darkness.
The yellow-lipped sea krait has a fiercely toxic venom,
which works incredibly quickly on its chosen prey, but that isn't people,
The reason the venom needs to be so strong is that fish,
once they're bitten, can swim away.
If the venom is powerful enough to work quickly,
the fish can't get far away and he gets a meal.
Ah, look at that! He's doing a little swim-through.
'The snake searches for prey that's hiding in the rocks.
'Sea kraits swim slowly
'and rely on their fearsome venom to instantly paralyse fish.
'This is because they don't stand a chance
'of catching a fish in a swimming pursuit.
'The sea krait can easily take on prey its own size
'before devouring it whole.
'A meal this big will last for weeks.'
That banded black and white colouration
is incredibly pretty and it's there for a reason.
These markings show potential predators that it's dangerous.
They're a warning.
Oh, wow! There's a big one!
I can't believe how many there are here.
'Sea snakes have one specialised, elongated lung,
'meaning they can stay underwater for over two hours,
'but because they're air-breathing reptiles,
'they need to come to the surface to breathe.'
The yellow-lipped sea krait is not dangerous to people at all.
They're really not aggressive.
But there's no getting away from the fact
that it does have a ferocious venom.
If it could get a decent bite on you,
it would be all bad.
'Catching a snake underwater is very different to on land.
'I'm clumsy and cumbersome in dive gear and need to
'make sure I handle it gently and don't let it feel too restrained.'
The yellow-lipped sea krait.
they're not at all aggressive to us,
but they're incredibly toxic, venomous fish killers.
And for that reason,
they're going on the Deadly 60.
Yellow-lipped sea krait swims and slithers to my list.
'So we're drying off and heading inland to the Philippine jungles.
'Our next fierce creature only comes out at night.
'I'm never one to miss an adventure, so as we wait for the sun to go down,
'I'm going to drag the crew out to a nearby mangrove swamp,
'in case we see something exciting.
'This stork-billed kingfisher
'is a mangrove forest resident and it's looking for a meal.
'In the thick mangrove mud we find something that could be on its menu.'
These mudskippers really are remarkable little fish.
There's hundreds of them all round the water's edge here.
They can breathe air.
They're equally at home in the water or on land.
The thing is, these fish are right at the bottom of the food chain.
Almost everything round here would love to get a mouthful of one.
So if they're attacked, they either scuttle for the water or the land.
'With dusk approaching,
'we need to get on the trail of our deadly animal.'
Our next target animal
is a vicious little demon that haunts these forests by night.
It's an animal I've been hoping to see for many years,
but they're very shy, very secretive and very, very rarely seen.
They have tiny, pointed teeth
and eyes are bigger than their own brain and they're called the tarsier.
'The tarsier is one of the freakiest-looking animals
'we'll see on the Deadly 60.
'And when it comes to hunting at night,
'this furry critter turns into a monster...
'And munches its prey head first.
During the daytime,
tarsiers hang out in dense thickets and they don't do very much.
But early evening, like now,
is when they start heading out to try and find a meal.
We're looking for a tiny, bouncing, hunting shape about this big.
'We found a bouncing shape, but it's not a tarsier
'and it says hello with a weird amphibian greeting.'
Phantom wee-er of the Philippines!
'This big, ugly critter is a cane toad
'and we've already encountered him on the Deadly 60.'
Even though it's an amphibian it's much bigger and heavier
than the mammal that we're looking for.
But he feeds on very much the same kind of things, so I guess
he's something of a competitor, only he's down on the ground
and the tarsiers are bouncing around looking for insects in the trees.
'With our search focused on the trees, suddenly the shout goes up.
'A springing shape has been spotted.'
Oh, wow! Johnny. Johnny. Where's Johnny? Come in here.
Oh, there he goes.
OK, look. He's moving quite quickly, Johnny,
so you'll have to stick with me... If I can stick with him. Wow!
They don't half move.
I'm sure he came through this way.
'That bouncing bundle of deadliness just disappeared into the night.
'But another intriguing beast is curdled up in the undergrowth.'
That is a big old millipede.
See if he'll unfurl on my hand.
There he goes.
The likelihood of a tarsier
eating a millipede, like this anyway, is fairly slim.
The reason is, they have their own defence in the way of a whole
bunch of toxins that they secrete from down here near the leg joints.
It's rather poisonous and it also tastes absolutely foul.
I don't know that for a fact, I haven't tried to eat a millipede,
but I guess a tarsier probably wouldn't either.
OK. Back to the leaf litter for you.
And back to our tarsier hunt.
There! There! I see him. Johnny, come here.
Up there, look.
Coming down this tree here.
Oh, he's going to bounce. He's looking off to his left.
Off like a shot.
We've found our tarsier.
He's just sat in a tree just a couple of feet in front of me.
The most remarkable, bizarre little gremlin I've ever seen.
It's almost like a hodge-podge...
a mix of other nocturnal animals.
Those huge eyes and the swivelling, turning head
are very much like you'd see in an owl.
The great big, thin, membranous ears and those sharp teeth
are more like those you'd see on a bat.
But in its own way it's even more effective than either.
This is the consummate killer of the night.
Let's see if we can see those incredible teeth in action.
He spotted it straight away.
Look at those eyes. Straight on to it.
Go on! It's incredible.
He sprung in.
Look at that. He's just a metre above my head.
He's getting ready to spring.
Oh! That was awesome. And he's going to settle down
over there somewhere and munch his way through that huge cricket.
Back legs seem to be completely disproportionately long to the body
and allow it to make massive springs, bouncing in between the trees.
Particularly if he's seen an insect that he's going to leap on,
he could easily bounce three metres or so
to just about any tree around here.
So it's really, really difficult for poor Johnny, our cameraman,
to try and keep him in the shot. Look at that!
He's just the most impossible little gremlin.
His ears are moving in every direction,
focusing the sound, like a satellite dish.
And he's spotted something.
He's seen something. You can see his ear focus on it.
Then his head goes round. He sees it with his eyes and then... Boing!
Just pounces off and grabs it.
Then off. Whoa!
A pounce and a bite, all in one.
Look at that.
Mouth full to bursting.
Cheeks bulging with bush cricket.
They look like they weigh about half as much as he does.
Though the majority of their diet is made up of insects,
like this bush cricket, they will,
if it comes down to it, feed on mammals smaller than themselves.
They're not fussy.
This is a really friendly little tarsier. He's actually coming to me.
Look at that!
I think because I fed him before,
he instantly thinks that I'm a source of food,
so he's following me around.
That was incredible!
Whoa! Look at that!
The high-bouncing gremlin of the jungle,
the tarsier, is on the Deadly 60.
..the tarsier boings and bounces on to my list.
Coming up next time...
Aaagh! Ooh! Hoo!
Here they come.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.