Wildlife series. Deep in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Steve goes in search of the biggest fish in the sea, so big that it can weigh as much as a double decker bus.
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My name's Steve Backshall.
And this is my mission - to find the Deadly 60!
That's not just animals deadly to me,
but animals deadly in their own worlds.
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 at the beach!
That is the Indian Ocean...
..and this is Mozambique.
Mozambique is on the Southeast coast of Africa -
tricky to spell, but awesome for wildlife.
'Some of the best encounters here are to be found in the sea,
'so first, we've got to get ourselves, our cameras,
'and our dive kit out beyond the waves.
'Hold on to your hats, everyone!'
Every different ecosystem, whether it's the jungle,
the desert or the ocean,
has to have loads of different animals
all playing their own special part.
For all the big predators,
you've got to have tiny things for them to feed on.
In order to show you those in the ocean,
I've borrowed a pillow case from our hotel...
and I'm going to go for a swim.
'Now, bear with me as I conduct this little experiment.
'There's a deadly animal coming and it eats what I'm trying to collect
'in my pillow case.'
Let's see what we've got.
Check that lot out!
My pillow case trick actually worked!
All of those weird swimming things inside there are plankton.
Plankton essentially comes in two types. You've got phytoplankton,
which is plants, and zooplankton, which is animals.
And if you don't believe me,
you can see it all swimming!
Now, this might not look like much of a meal,
but there is an enormous amount of it.
So, if you're an animal with a big enough mouth
and you can hoover this stuff down,
actually, this can provide a meal
for some of the biggest animals on the planet.
'And those big-mouthed animals are what we're here to find.'
Swim away, little fishies!
When you put them under the magnifying glass,
you can see they really are tiny baby animals.
These can be eaten by small fish, which are eaten by medium-size fish
and are then eaten by big fish.
It's called a food chain,
where everything's eaten by something more deadly.
But some animals bypass the whole chain
and go straight for the plankton,
swallowing it in huge numbers.
And they are the biggest animals on Earth.
Manta rays, basking sharks, huge fish, with huge mouths.
And the biggest of them all is the mighty whale shark.
This part of Mozambique is a great place to find them.
'After an hour or two of searching,
'Mark, our guide, spots a huge shadow in the water.'
Oh, this is a fantastic bit of luck!
The high chair, up there, is a perfect spot
for seeing big animals in the sea.
And it looks like just up here, we have the biggest fish,
the biggest shark in the sea.
Wow! Look at the size of that! Huge!
We need to get ourselves prepped up pretty quick, get in the water.
Can you take your radio transmitter...?
This is by no means certain, but if we do get close to this whale shark,
it'll be the biggest animal we've ever had on the Deadly 60.
There are unconfirmed reports of whale sharks 18 metres long.
For absolute certain, they get to 12 metres,
which is double the length of this boat.
A whale shark that big could weigh as much as a double decker bus!
That is a serious fish.
Right, are we looking good?
It's absolutely huge!
'Coming out of the blue, towards me, is a gigantic, speckled spaceship.
'With deceptively slow sweeps of its huge tail,
'it was moving faster than any Olympic swimmer.
'It was more like swimming with a submarine, than a fish!
'The shark wasn't hunting, but moving quickly,
'as if searching for its next meal.
'It was just way too fast for any of us to swim alongside.'
We're really struggling to keep up!
I think I'll have to get onto scuba.
'Up until now, I'd been using a mask and snorkel.'
It wasn't working, going after the whale shark with a snorkel,
so I'm swapping over into my scuba mask.
Hopefully, that'll give me more chance to go down to his level
and try and keep pace with it.
'And it'll mean I'll be able to talk to you.'
It's hard work!
Three, two, one, go!
'Our timing was perfect.
'We jumped in practically on top of the shark
'and, this time, it was demonstrating its deadly abilities.'
When he's eating like this, you can see that this is actually a hunter.
Look at that, gulping great loads of plankton in that huge mouth!
Just gulping the food!
I just got clobbered!
With such a graceful animal,
it's easy to forget what incredible hunters they are.
A feeding whale shark is awesome.
With each mighty gulp, it can devour tens of thousands of creatures.
Just look at the size of its mouth!
You could park a car in there.
It doesn't just eat plankton.
Here, a school of tiny fish is being hunted by larger tuna.
The tuna pick at the edges, but the whale shark
can gulp right through the middle of the school.
If the tuna don't watch themselves, they'll end up getting munched too.
You know, it's such a huge creature,
it's one of the wonders of nature
that all the things it feeds on are so tiny.
These little specks of plankton in the water
are its main food.
But they can also gulp down small fish.
And it needs so little energy to travel.
You can see, because the tail is so huge,
and such a big paddle, it can drive itself through the water
with really tiny little bits of effort.
Look at the size of the tail!
The shark was so big that it was causing quite a stir on the surface.
It's definitely the size of the boat. The boat is eight metres long.
What a wonderful, graceful, beautiful giant.
They are utterly awe-inspiring.
Look at that.
I can't keep up with him!
He's so fast!
Don't swim off!
Is there anything more majestic in the world's oceans?
At first sight, the whale shark may seem like a strange thing to go for
for the Deadly 60.
Obviously, they're totally harmless creatures to people,
but we saw there the whale shark gulping at the surface.
It was swallowing hundreds of thousands, millions,
of tiny baby animals
with every single gulp.
That makes it a hunter -
one of the most efficient, one of the biggest
and one of the most majestic on the planet.
And for those reasons I'm putting the whale shark on the Deadly 60.
The biggest fish in the sea.
The mightiest mouth of any shark,
with a gulp that hoovers up thousands of baby animals.
The whale shark is a whopper.
'Just after we'd seen the whale shark,
'we spotted another marine monster with a similar method of feeding.'
..straight towards it.
In the distance, two breaching humpback whales.
Then, cruising alongside our boat,
a mother humpback and her van-sized calf.
50 metres away, just on the surface.
James, James, very close.
That's the calf.
And that's Mum.
She's like a nuclear submarine!
Whales are mammals like us,
and they have to come to the surface to breathe.
And as they come up you can hear that expulsion of air.
There's something tremendously life-affirming
about seeing whales in their natural environment.
As far as I'm concerned,
any day where you can see a whale or a dolphin
is automatically a very good day.
'That would have to rate as a pretty good day.
'We're heading back after being thrown about on the sea
'all day long.
'Just as we're about to hit the hay, in scuttles an unexpected visitor
'that could be the ultimate natural nightmare.'
They're not venomous, but they can bite.
How do you want to do this? Where's he gone?
I think he's gone, I think he's gone.
-No, he hasn't gone!
This has all got a little bit frantic.
I've got one of the most remarkable invertebrates in the world
under my net.
How I'm going to show him to you, I have absolutely no idea,
because this is the fastest invertebrate on the planet.
OK. I think what I'm going to do is take the net off
and try and get the glass down on top of it and see what happens.
-How fast is it?
-Very fast. Very, very fast.
'Underneath my net is one creepy crawly
'you'd not want scuttling up your trouser leg.'
How am I going to do this?
Oh, no! Don't go that way!
Oh, no, I think we've lost him now.
Yes! I've got him!
Oh, they are one of the creepiest creatures you'll ever see.
Yeah, I've got it.
-Um, right, who's going to take it up there from me?
Er, not me.
No, no. No, no, no.
-Are you feeling brave, James?
Look at the size of his jaws.
I know this is a little bit weird,
but I really can't think of any other way
of showing you this remarkable animal.
This is a solifugid.
They're known by many different names -
sometimes they're called camel spiders or wind scorpions.
They are arachnids, but not true spiders.
Although, if you count the legs -
if he'll stay still long enough -
you will see one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight legs.
So they are arachnids, they're related to spiders.
But the most incredible thing about it is if you look at the head,
because the mandibles, the jaws, are just enormous.
They have an incredible force
that's generated by the muscles in that whacking, great big head.
And they use those mandibles, they work almost separately,
like big tools to tear apart insects
that they'll catch using their incredible speed.
And it would have to be one of the creepiest creatures on the planet.
In relation to its size,
this animal has the biggest jaws of anything on earth.
And it's that simple really.
If you're its prey, it's faster than you,
it chases you, it grabs you and then it minces you
with those giant jaws.
They really give me the creeps.
There are so many myths about solifugids,
so much nonsense that's written about them
and it's not surprising really, cos they are
one of the most frightening looking creatures on the planet.
They're said to chase after people,
to have a kind of venom that means you can't feel when they bite you
and they slowly eat you alive.
None of that is actually true, they don't have venom glands.
They just rely on the enormous strength and power of those jaws
and their incredible speed.
I mean, I don't think there's any doubt
that these incredible arachnids should go on the Deadly 60.
I think really though, you need to see him at work.
And to do that,
we're going to have to release him from his little glass prison,
and see him running around.
I'm going to start doing that on my hand.
This could be the bravest thing I do all week.
Oh, that's so freaky!
OK, let's see where he goes.
I don't know if you can see this,
but all over the legs
great long sensory hairs.
Some of them almost as long as the legs themselves.
These are used to sense movements in the air around,
even chemicals from its prey.
Where are you off to?
Ah! He's gone!
'And with that, it disappeared off into the night,
'probably to scare some other TV crew.
'Now, I don't think anybody's going to argue
'with me putting this on the Deadly 60.
'Solifuge, camel spider, wind scorpion,
'whatever you want to call it,
'The fastest invertebrate in the world.
'With the biggest jaws around,
'and scarier than an attic full of ghosts.
'The solifugid is on the Deadly 60.'
It's a little after sunrise
and we found ourselves on this beautiful, calm,
peaceful, tranquil paradise beach,
but I'm kind of hoping that our day isn't going to stay
calm and peaceful and tranquil.
In fact, I'm hoping for some serious action,
cos out there in the Indian Ocean is one of the fastest,
fiercest fish on the planet.
We've got a whole bunch of Deadly 60 tricks to try and find one.
'Today, I'll be requiring one boat.
'Some seaworthy shipmates.
'A keen sense of adventure.
'And possibly, a sick bag.
'Cos we're going to be looking for the most awesome fish in the sea.'
The fish that we've come to find are known collectively as billfish.
'Billfish have huge long noses, or bills.
'They use these fearsome spiky weapons
'to stun and kill the smaller fish they feed on.
'That's deadly enough,
'but driving them forward at insane speed is a hypercharged engine room,
'powerful muscles, streamlining and a scythe-like tail.
'All billfish are fast, but the fastest of the lot
'is the sleek, the speedy, the savage predator - the marlin.'
Our fishing boats are powerful, modern speedboats
with 250 horsepower engines.
And we're really rattling along at the moment,
but unbelievably, a marlin can just cruise straight past us
as if we were standing still.
They've been clocked at over 80mph,
which makes them easily the fastest fish in the sea.
And they can accelerate faster than a Formula One racecar.
'So if they're so fast, how do we hope to see one?
'As ever, we have a trick up our sleeve.
'We're going fishing.
'But not with hooks - with an underwater camera.
'We'll tow a fluffy lure behind our boat,
'the fish will go mad for it, thinking it's food,
'and we'll be able to see the whole thing up on deck on a TV screen.'
It'll work, Steve. It'll work.
'So far, we've got a picture.
'Now, let's get it in the water.'
Come on, fishy.
'We didn't have to wait long before predators spotted the bait.'
Oh, oh! There's fish coming in and checking out the bait.
Look at that!
-What do you reckon they are? Any ideas?
Oh, look at that!
That's a big shoal!
'These fast-hunting fish are called torpedo scad.'
They're certainly going after the bait, coming in,
checking it out... That's awesome!
They're like little torpedoes!
These fish are probably about the length of my arm
and exactly the kind of things that marlin and other billfish
will be feeding on.
Coming right into the bait!
Look at that!
Just a flash of silver and then they're gone.
What an amazing shot!
'Things were all looking good.
'We were getting great shots of hunting fish with our tow camera
'and there were predators about.
'A school of dolphin, bow-riding, proved that.
'But despite all the time trying,
'we didn't catch a single glimpse of a marlin.'
Well, we do like a gamble on Deadly 60,
but this was perhaps too much of a long shot.
We've been out here for two days now
and we still haven't found our marlin
and unfortunately, it's time to move on. But even so...
'Hopefully you'll agree it was worth persevering
'to try and see one of these awesome hunters.
'I'm not going to put it on the Deadly 60
'because I think the marlin and I have unfinished business.
'However, there is another animal I have in mind,
'but it couldn't be more different.
'The animal I'm trying to find isn't fast, but in its own way,
'it's more destructive than anything else on the Deadly 60.
'It lives on the sea bed, so it's time for a spot more diving.'
Three, two, one, go.
It's like a huge aquarium down here!
So many colours!
They're quite a way away.
'The devil rays are swimming fast into the distance.
'And I want to keep descending to the sea bed on my mission.
'Then, we get sized up by one of the biggest mouths on the reef.'
Mark! Mark! Look at this!
Hello there, big fella!
This is a potato grouper.
They're quite often quite friendly.
I think they're wonderful fish.
Great big enormous mouths,
full of solid teeth for crunching down crustaceans.
Awesome! And they always look so grumpy, too!
'Munching spiny lobster in their cavernous jaws,
'grouper could be a contender.
'But, for the moment, I'm sticking to plan A.'
Am I imagining things?
Wow! Look at this!
This is exactly what I was hoping to find!
This big, bizarre, pin cushion-like creature in front of me
is a starfish.
But it's a very special kind of starfish
and I'm not going to try and pick this one up.
It's a crown-of-thorns.
All these spines covering the top of it,
covering the arms,
carry venom, and certainly while I'm this far underwater,
the last thing I would want would be to get nailed by this.
I mean, it potentially could kill me.
However, that's not the reason why this, the crown-of-thorns starfish,
is going to go on the Deadly 60.
'Nope, I've not gone completely bonkers.
'This is a starfish.
'And if you think starfish are just like star-shaped rocks,
'take a look at them speeded up.
'Our starfish, the crown-of-thorns,
'hunts and kills coral.
'They creep up on their defenceless prey
'on tube-like feet.
'To eat, they throw up their stomach lining,
'out through their mouths, over the living coral.
'That's the yellow stuff that looks a bit like cabbage.
'Its stomach contains highly-toxic digestive juices
'which dissolve the coral, killing it.
'So the starfish pulls in its stomach...
'..and, using those tube-like feet,
'moves on to feast on a fresh part of the coral reef.
'Just one of these deadly critters is destructive enough,
'but if there's lots of them,
'they can devastate a once-lush coral garden,
'reducing it to a brittle, lifeless skeleton.'
This is a real horror!
And that's why the crown-of-thorns is on the Deadly 60.
It's a destroyer of coral!
'Covered in poison-tipped spines,
'they can throw up their stomachs
'and dissolve an area of coral the size of a city.
'Definitely on the Deadly 60.
Look at that!
'Join me next time, as I continue my search
'for the Deadly 60.'
Just flying under my feet! Ahhh!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Deep in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Steve goes in search of the biggest fish in the sea, so big that it can weigh as much as a double decker bus. He also goes looking for the fastest fish on the planet, but travelling at speeds of 80 miles per hour, Steve's got his work cut out. After an encounter with a starfish that kills coral with lethal stomach juices, the crew's nerves are tested to their limit when a truly scary animal turns up uninvited at their digs back on dry land.