Wildlife series. Steve Backshall takes to icy waters in search of the world's biggest sea lion, and there's a surprise in store when Steve meets the infamous black bear.
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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!
And this is my mission, to find the Deadly 60.
That's not just animals that are deadly to me,
but animals that are deadly in their own world.
My crew and I are exploring the planet,
and you're coming with me every step of the way.
This time on Deadly 60, we're in Canada,
way over to the west in British Columbia.
It's four times the size of Britain
and it's packed with potential contenders for my Deadly 60 list.
This province has endless amounts of forest and wilderness, but it also
has plenty of people - and sometimes that suits the animals just fine.
My first target though, is a marine,
that is a sea-living predator.
To see what makes it so fearsome,
I am going to take a look at the frame this beast is built on.
So you can tell a tremendous amount
about animals and what they do by looking at their skulls and,
perhaps more importantly their teeth, what's called their dentition.
Starting down here, this is the skull of a mink.
That's in the weasel family and they've got huge canine teeth.
The same family, much bigger, we have a sea otter skull.
Next, we've got a cat. This is a bobcat skull.
That is certainly a predator right at the top of its game.
Very different here is a dog skull.
That's from a wolf.
Here are the two largest land predators
that you'll find this part of the world.
We've got a black bear here and a polar bear skull here.
This vies with the grisly bear
for the title of the largest land predator in the world.
So, if that skull belongs to the largest land predator in the world,
then what do you think this belongs to?
I mean, this has got to be some kind of dinosaur, right?
Well, actually, this amazing creature
is the next animal we're hoping to find on the Deadly 60.
And it lives here, in the icy waters of British Columbia.
It's the biggest, baddest sea lion in the world - the Steller sea lion.
A fully-grown male can weigh as much as a car
and bite through the biggest fish, like a chainsaw through chocolate.
To enter their territory is perhaps even edgier than dining with sharks.
Steller sea lions are almost like two different animals.
When they're on land, they're better at moving around
than many kinds of seals, but they're sluggish and slow,
almost quite comedy in the way they move.
But once they get into the water, it's a different story.
They're amazingly agile, very, very fast,
and they have a bit of a reputation for being inquisitive
and coming up to divers and having a little nibble on them.
I'm really hoping that
that's how they work, because having seen what their jaws look like now,
I certainly don't want them attacking me in earnest.
Kit sorted, time to get wet.
Diving in the Canadian seas is a bit like swimming in pea soup.
The foggy waters hid the mighty hunters until the very last second.
He is gigantic!
This is spectacular!
Well, I'm going to sit here on the bottom.
That's a big male Steller sea lion
and a very, very frightening encounter
as soon as we hit the bottom.
Look at the size of him. He's huge!
You guys get close together,
otherwise, we're going to get absolutely mullered here.
'A fully grown male Steller sea lion weighs ten times more than me
'and is three metres long.
'And in his massive wake, hordes of lightning female sea lions.'
They're very lithe and slender. Really built for speed and they
can twist and turn, chasing even the fastest of fish.
Ooh! Crikey, that was close!
'These inquisitive ladies are just giving me the once-over.
'If I was a fish, though, they'd be nothing like as reserved.
'In fact, it would be hunting time.
'Hunting sea lions course through the water like torpedoes,
'hitting fish at 30mph.'
There's loads of them!
I mean, at the moment, the animals do seem
kind of playful and inquisitive,
but because they're so very, very big it's a bit unnerving, actually.
Ooh! Oi! Get off!
Although they are very beautiful,
every once in a while you get a flash of those teeth.
'They have a mouth full of teeth, far more impressive
'than a wolf or big cat, with canine teeth the length of my thumb.
'Those lethal daggers are used to spear fish.'
And it reminds you of quite how fearsome they are
as a hunter and a predator.
You've always got to have that in the back of your mind
because they are potentially very dangerous animals.
They're ever so bold.
Mind you, when you're the largest sea lion on the planet... Whoa!
..that strong, that powerful,
you can do pretty much whatever you like.
Ooh! Oi, get off!
She's biting my head!
Crikey, I hope they don't grab me like... Ow!
Ah, that hurt!
They're starting to bite now.
Getting a little bit too bold.
I think it's probably time that we should head up.
'Playful bites just mean bruises, but I'm not sticking around
'to see what happens when they get really grumpy.'
But I don't think there's any doubt
that you've got to put these incredible animals on the Deadly 60.
The largest of all sea lions.
They're super-streamlined, moving through the water like a torpedo.
With powerful jaws and spear-like teeth.
Fish filleting Steller sea lions - definitely deadly.
Talk about wild encounters!
Yeah, they're quite big and scary, actually.
Beautiful, yes, but they've got very, very big teeth.
SEA LIONS ROAR
'It seemed our sea lion encounter was done,
'but we had a real surprise in store.
'Sometimes even the most fearsome hunter can become the hunted.'
There's a pod of orca - of killer whales -
who have got a hold of a Steller sea lion.
'Killer whales already have
'a well-deserved place on my Deadly 60 list.
'All of a sudden, two Deadly 60 animals were going head to head
'in a genuine life or death face-off.'
Despite the enormous size of these animals, it still takes
an incredible amount of effort to kill something
as large as a Steller sea lion.
It is the biggest sea lion in the world. It's a ferocious predator,
and it's a survivor, as well.
Oh, double spy hop together! They both came up at the same moment!
Oh, my goodness!
It's like some kind of ballet!
I'm almost certain these whales are coming up above the surface,
to bring their eye above the surface so they can try and see where he is.
They just can't quite locate him. He's hidden in amongst the kelp,
obviously very, very tired.
As a reminder of what our Steller sea lion is up against,
have a look at what killer whales are capable of.
This is a real wildlife drama happening right now.
Just surfacing right behind the sea lion, almost like they're
playing with him, but I think it's more because he's just in amongst
kelp - thick seaweed which forms like a forest under the water.
Possible that it's quite shallow here,
and they can't quite get in at him.
'No match for an entire pod of killer whales,
'the brainy, sea lion wisely hides where they can't follow.
'Hiding in the kelp makes it harder for the killer whales to see him
'and impossible to actually get at him.'
Whoa! 'The frustrated killer whales step the hunt up a gear.
'The jumping, the splashing and the tail slaps are all meant
'to intimidate the sea lion an drive him out of the kelp.'
I don't believe what's happening!
This is the most incredible wildlife drama I think I've ever seen.
They're trying to freak it out and drive it out from where it's hiding.
Over here we've got one thrashing its tail,
going absolutely crazy with tail slaps.
He's heading out, he's heading away.
Our gutsy sea lion hasn't been fooled.
He's using his superior manoeuvrability to outwit the orca.
A big burst of bubbles right underneath where the sea lion was.
'It's a waiting game for both the killer whales and the sea lion.'
The sea lion's back out again.
-How did it get all the way over there?
-Is there more than one?
And the sea lion has managed to escape.
I can't believe the way our drama seems to be finishing.
The sea lion's headed off in that direction, and our pod of orca
just seem to have given up and they're heading off that way.
There they go.
He got away with it, he escaped!
That has got to be the gutsiest sea lion on the planet,
swimming in that direction, right around the shore.
'I put Steller sea lions on the list as a super-charged fish hunter,
'but this proves my point for reasons I'd not considered.
'Outnumbered ten to one,
'by killer whales many times his size and strength,
'our Steller sea lion had the guts, the speed,
'the brains to elude them and survive.
'Our respect for the Steller sea lion has gone through the roof.'
'Here in Canada, people and wild animals often live side by side,
'so we're heading into the city of Vancouver to search for potential
'contenders for my Deadly 60.
'The crew and I were heading to our hotel when we came across
'a nocturnal hunter.'
How about that?
We were just heading home when, out of one of the windows, we spied
one of the residents of the city, which is a wild animal that's doing
really, really well in here, amongst people.
It's up here somewhere.
Oh, my goodness. Ha-ha! How about that?!
Actually, this is an animal that does have a claim to being deadly.
They're phenomenal predators, digging in the soil
looking for insects and worms.
'This city critter is a skunk.
'It might look cuddly, but trust me, this is the last animal on earth
'you'd ever want to hug.
'Skunks are fearsome bug killers.
'With curved claws for excavating an insect supper, they'll munch down
'small mammals with a mouth bristling with sharp teeth.
'But if a bigger beast makes the mistake of taking on the skunk,
'then pretty soon they'll wish they hadn't.
'The skunk is armed with a potent defensive spray,
'and this chemical weapon can even harm humans.'
'The skunk sprays when it feels threatened,
'but the spray is so highly toxic it can cause temporary blindness,
'and the stench alone will turn the strongest of stomachs.
'The toxic spray is so effective the military have
'copied its chemical make-up and use it to disperse angry crowds.
'So we're tiptoeing around as quiet as can be.'
There he is, just down there, scampering through the bushes.
'The black and white colouration warns predators to look elsewhere.'
It's right in front of me.
Steve, where is it?
-Just down here, Johnny.
-What happens if a skunk sprays you, Steve?
If a skunk sprays you, you are in a world of pain.
I remember being with a dog that got sprayed a few years back,
and everything it sat on,
everything it even went close to had to be thrown away. The smell
was so powerful it made you want to vomit just being close to it.
Really, it's the incredible stinging, acidic burning
if it gets into your eyes and onto your skin.
And that's why it has this vibrant
bright white and black warning colouration.
'Mammals this size are often on the menu for all sorts
'of bigger predators. But one spray from a skunk and they soon learn.
'This young mountain lion is about to be taught a valuable lesson.
'The mountain lion is ten times the size of our hero,
'but Eau de Skunk is nature's most unstomachable stench.
'Skunk one, lion nil.'
Look at that.
I think he's quite a young one, actually.
Just scampering off into the bushes, and I have to say I'm secretly quite
glad because you really wouldn't want to get sprayed by a skunk.
There is nothing funny about it, at all.
'Unplanned encounters are what make these missions exciting
'and unpredictable, and you don't get much more unpredictable
'than an animal the size of a rabbit that can overwhelm a lion.
'The skunk may be small, but it has a huge attitude,
'with sharp teeth and digging claws, but it's their stinking acidic spray
'that gets them on the Deadly 60.
'The striped or spotty scrabbling stink bomb, the skunk.'
'While we were in Vancouver we bumped into one animal that's so
'adaptable and successful in the city, that they're everywhere.'
Oh, there's one. Look, Johnny.
'That animal is the raccoon.'
'One racoon let his greediness get the better of him.
'Deadly 60 crew to raccoon rescue!'
The raccoon's stuck in the bin.
This could be interesting.
Yeah, if you could grab me a branch that would be great.
This is kind of the unfortunate side effect
of racoons living so close to people.
They spend an awful lot of time in dustbins because it's full
of high-calorie, sweet, salty food,
and this poor little fella's got himself trapped.
Just sent off my director. He's going to try and get a branch,
and hopefully we can provide
just a little ladder that he can use to climb out.
quite bitey. He's snarling at me at the moment.
'Obviously, raccoons don't spend their whole lives
'stuck in rubbish bins.
'I want to show you how good they are at hunting.
'Down at the seashore, raccoons search for a shellfish supper.
'They hunt at night and only use touch,
'despite not having flexible thumbs like we do.
'To make this demonstration fair,
'I'm going to have my thumbs tied up.'
Let's have a bit of an idea of what life is like as raccoon.
'And this is their ideal hunting ground, with plenty of shellfish.'
First, what the raccoon would do is they have very, very fine hairs
around the end of each finger,
and they use those to touch around,
like this, almost not using their sight and their smell.
Raccoons use their incredible sense of touch to build up a 3D mental map
of their surroundings.
It's as complex as human sight, and it's as though they're seeing
with their hands.
I've got myself some mussels here.
Right. Let's see how I go with opening these
without using my thumbs.
-You used your thumbs there as well.
-I didn't use my thumbs!
-I saw you
use your thumbs. Yeah, we saw you.
'OK, my crew were right.
'I cheated, and I don't come close to having the skill of a raccoon,
'or the strength to break into shellfish without thumbs.
So there's no doubt with their brains, their resourcefulness,
their ability to adapt to their environment,
raccoons have got to go on the Deadly 60.
Sensitive hands help it effectively see what it touches.
So perceptive, they can hunt in pitch black,
can break into the toughest of shells - without any thumbs.
Raccoons - masked bandits and deadly.
'The skunk and the raccoon both make best use of what we leave behind.
'But this next animal is far less welcome in our cities.
'Ten times stronger than a man and capable of dealing destruction
'with its massive paws, this is a black bear.
'So far on Deadly 60,
'we've met two kinds of bears - the seal-eating polar bear...'
Out there, about a mile off in the distance, is our first polar bear.
He's just, sort of,
ambling about at the moment.
'And the salmon-slicing grizzly bear.'
Look at that, just wandering along the shoreline!
'Those bears were really hard to find, but that's not the case here.
'Black bears are everywhere.
'Many of the towns in Canada have been built
'on the edge of black bear territories.
'Bears have the most potent sense of smell
'in the animal kingdom.
'Our rubbish draws them in from miles away.
'Keeping bears away from people is a constant battle.
'Seeing skunks and raccoons in your garden is one thing,
'but finding a bear is a whole other story.
'This footage shows bears in someone's front garden.
'Imagine waking up to that in the morning!
'I've come to Whistler to find out more about these insatiable eaters,
'and it wasn't long before we bumped into one.'
I don't believe it!
'Be under no illusion - these bears may look cute and cuddly,
'but appearances can be deceiving.'
Wandering across the road in front of us is a bear.
Look at this, it's just walking
right down the footpath.
This is the kind of situation
the people in Whistler deal with every day.
They may feed mainly on plants,
but this is still a bear with all the bear superpowers.
They're huge, heavy beasts with strength
that is almost unparalleled.
They can run as fast as a racehorse and are equipped with fearsome claws
and massive jaws.
The situation with black bears coming into towns has arisen
because people have been irresponsible with their rubbish.
With a sense of smell 100,000 times more sensitive than ours,
black bears can smell an easy meal from miles away.
Black bears don't seek humans as food, but if they feel frightened,
cornered or are protecting cubs, they can lash out.
The way you get rid of rubbish is really important around bears.
With their sense of smell, they can pick up the scent of rubbish
from miles around. And they can also get into
a conventional rubbish bin really easily, so special bear bins
like this, that they can't get their paws into,
are absolutely essential.
It seems tragic that this wondrous beast can be seen as a pest,
with that magnificent muzzle buried in our junk.
I want to see them where they're at home, rather than
really in our home.
It's crazy, crazy early in the morning,
not long after dawn, and the entire crew have crammed into
the back of this car because we're heading uphill, looking for bears.
'The black bear's natural diet is mostly made up of berries,
'but in the wild they can occasionally be predators,
'sometimes devouring colonies of ants
'and, like their grizzly bear cousins, catching salmon.
'Black bears are the least choosy of the bears in what they eat.
'They prefer the easy life and eat whatever's readily available.
'Most of the time, that's plants.'
Oh, no, no. He's right alongside the road.
Got our first bear in front of us,
just shambling away, up the road.
He's gone now.
'This time of year, natural food is plentiful
'and berry-guzzling bears are everywhere.'
They're just heading up. Lovely.
During the winter, Whistler is one of the best-known ski areas
in the world, and it's quite weird actually seeing these bears
wandering across the slopes here, with the silent ski lifts behind us.
You can just hear the whir of the ski lift over there.
We've got our mother,
just crossing the slopes now, and one of her cubs halfway up a tree.
It's a pretty good start to the day.
'In the mountains, where they don't feel cornered,
'the bears pretty much ignore us.'
Nice and quiet, everyone.
This is actually quite an unusual experience - totally surrounded
on all sides by black bears.
There's one just about 15, 20m in front of me,
just shambling down the slopes.
And another four around us, here.
I think this is to do with the fact that there is
so much food here, so many berries,
and they're so involved with eating them,
that they're not fussed about our presence.
They have boundless personality
and are definitely one of Canada's wild wonders.
They don't want conflict with people,
but black bears can occasionally turn to being scavengers.
And in the city, we produce so much rubbish,
black bears find it irresistible, and this is where people and bears
come into close contact.
If we were responsible with our rubbish,
bears would have no reason to come into cities.
Well, black bears are a bit of a weird one for the Deadly 60, really.
There's no doubt that it's an animal with great strength,
deceptive speed, amazing senses and a great ability to climb.
I mean, it has the potential to be very dangerous indeed.
But the truth of the matter is that for the vast majority of the year,
all they eat is plant matter and really they're no danger to humans
whatsoever, unless people are really, really stupid.
So, cool as they are,
I don't think I'll put black bears onto the Deadly 60.
'And on our next electrifying edition of the Deadly 60...'
I have never been this close to a tapir before.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Steve Backshall takes to the icy waters of British Columbia in search of the biggest, baddest sea lion in the world. After an unexpected encounter with a killer whale, he heads back to the city on the trail of one smelly contender before trying his hand at becoming a raccoon. Despite immense strength, powerful claws and a fearsome reputation in Canada, there's a surprise in store when Steve tracks down the infamous black bear.