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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature... WOLF HOWLS
I'm Naomi Wilkinson! Whoohoo!
And I'm coming face-to-face with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle...
ECHOING: ..your heart beat faster...
IT GROWLS, SHE SCREAMS AND LAUGHS
..and your blood run cold!
Are they truly terrifying?
Or is there a twist in the tale?
Come with me as I shine a light on wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets.
And see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.
Welcome to paradise!
This time I'm on the tropical island of Borneo,
blessed with mile after mile of beautiful sandy beaches,
spectacular coral reefs and magnificent rainforests.
Borneo is the largest island in Asia,
sitting smack-bang on the equator.
First impressions -
I think the crew might have made a mistake with this one.
This show is all about me coming face-to-face with the nightmares
of the natural world, but look at it!
You are going to have to work so hard to find anything
that will scare me here.
What was that?! Aaaah!
Aah! Oh, no, what's that?
This time, I get hands-on with a tail-thwacking lethal lizard,
who likes to bite.
'I meet a monkey with a nightmare nose
'who would come bottom of any beauty contest.'
That's a strange-looking animal!
'And I face one of my biggest fears,
'swimming in shark-infested sea at night.'
Do people really do this for fun?
But first, time to relax.
Ah, I'm in heaven.
Tropical sun, crystal clear seas, pure white sand!
I could stay here all day.
What a way to relax.
Oh, what now?
"Just thought you might like to know you're lying in poo!"
Eugh. Fish poo? That's disgusting. Eugh.
Borneo is home to one of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world,
and off the island of Sipadan, I team up with marine biologist Simon.
He's going to help me to get to the bottom of this fishy mystery.
I can't quite believe it, Simon. That stunning beach is made of poo?
Yup. Bizarre, isn't it?
It looks gorgeous but, no, it's actually made mostly
from one of the largest family of fishes you find here.
We're going to go out, have a look around and hopefully we'll find
a large school of them.
But, you've guessed it, if I'm going to see them,
I have to get in the water
and I'm concerned about exactly what else we might encounter.
OK, so what else are we likely to see while we're in the water?
Well, as this is one of the top dive sights of the world,
we get to see jackfish, barracudas,
-angelfish, turtles - lots of turtles...
-..which are beautiful.
-And lots of sharks, if we're lucky.
-Lots of sharks too?
If you've watched Nightmares before, you'll probably know
I'm not overly keen on swimming anywhere where there might be sharks.
If I'm going to see the culprit in action,
'I HAVE to face one of my worst fears.' Oh.
SHE GROANS 'Time to take the plunge.'
-Remember, Naomi is friend, not food.
-Beautiful visibility down here.
Oh, my goodness!
'My heart is beating like a big bass drum
'and it nearly explodes when I see that oh-so-familiar shape.'
Argh. Whoa! Shark, shark, shark, shark!
That's OK, that's OK. It's a whitetip reef shark.
-Puppy dogs. They're puppy dogs.
-SHE LAUGHS NERVOUSLY
For once, sharks aren't the nightmare we're looking for
and the longer I stay in,
the more I become mesmerised by this spectacular place.
I can't believe. I honestly cannot believe it.
I've never been surrounded by this much life.
'And it soon gets even more astonishing.'
We're suddenly surrounded by the fish that's responsible
for beaches... SHE SQUEALS
..being made of poo.
-MUFFLED: They're huge!
-Look at that!
-They're so huge!
-Amazing, isn't it?
So, these are bumphead parrotfish,
and you can see that obviously from the large head that they have.
-Yeah big, bulbous forehead, haven't they?
-You can see the big beaks as well, like parrots...
..which is why they get the rest of their name.
Bumphead parrotfish are gigantic,
by far the largest species of parrotfish.
Adults can grow to 1.3 metres long
and more impressively, these giants gather in enormous schools,
scouring the reefs in groups of up to 100 individuals.
-They have got the weirdest teeth I've ever seen.
Well, that's what they're using to scrape the coral.
We can see they're scraping the coral. They're taking chunks off.
'You wouldn't think they'd get much goodness from eating rock'
but coral is made up of tiny little animals like anemones
and algae grows on its surface too.
But it's not the richest source of food,
so the parrotfish have to eat a LOT to get enough goodness from it.
And what goes in, must come out.
Just constantly pooing, all the time!
Everywhere you look there's just these clouds of sand
coming out of the back of them! Gross. Gross.
The bumpheads reduce the hard coral into a paste,
digesting the algae and the animal part of the coral.
The indigestible rock is passed out the other end.
Everywhere they go, they leave a trail of smelly sand
in their wake and that can play havoc with your hair.
When you dive with bumphead parrotfish like this though,
you end up getting sand and....
-Poo in your hair!
-Poo all in your hair.
But a beach made almost entirely of fish poo
still seems a bit far-fetched.
I don't quite understand how one species of fish can produce
not just one beach worth of poo, but hundreds of beaches.
Well, it's been estimated that an adult bumphead parrotfish
can produce five tonnes of sand a year.
Five tonnes a year from one fish?!
From one fish and they live up to 40 years,
so if you imagine that over the course of a lifetime.
-Yeah, makes sense now.
-That's some big beaches.
Mystery solved and a memory I will never forget.
That was so fantastic.
Initially, seeing them, pretty shocking.
They are massive, massive fish,
but once I overcame that fear, just relaxed and watched them
I just kept seeing them go to the toilet all the time.
As poo goes, it's not exactly nasty, but I suppose the idea
of a whole beach being made of fish poo is utterly revolting.
So that is why the coral-chomping, beach-making, bumphead parrotfish
could just swim into the lead as my worst nightmare.
Time to leave the sea behind and head upstream.
The rivers that snake through these rainforests in Borneo
offer some of the best opportunities to see wildlife here.
The animals head down to the river bank to drink or feed
on the fruiting trees and there is one animal in particular
that is never very far away from this river,
and I've been told it has looks that could give anyone nightmares.
I joined primatologist Danica from the Danau Girang Field Centre
to track them down.
But spotting anything in the dense vegetation is tricky,
to say the least.
Oh, oh, oh. There's some rustling in the trees over there.
Oh, yeah, we've got some definite rustling in trees up here.
-We've got some jumping.
-Let's have a look.
See a little orange head poking out?
Yes, I saw some orange just disappear into the leaves.
Look at him jumping around! There, there,
-sitting on the top of the tree!
-There she is. A few of them.
Oh, I can see her tail! Yes, long tail!
We've found a family of proboscis monkeys,
aptly named because "proboscis" is another word for "nose".
And in the afternoon, these large family groups head to the river bank
as it's a safe place to spend the night.
Slightly unusual noses. Aren't they?
They're actually the biggest monkey in Borneo.
-25 kilos is the male.
-That's big, isn't it?
-That's bigger than my suitcase was when I came here.
Initially, all we can see are female proboscis monkeys
and if I think THEY have a slightly odd appearance,
the male is a whole different ballgame.
-Is that the male there?
-Oh, yeah that's him!
-He's big! He's a lot bigger than the others.
GIGGLING: I can instantly see why they're called proboscis monkeys.
He's got such a big nose!
'Everything about them looks bizarre but, as I'm about to learn,
'each and every funny feature has a very important reason,
'including that enormous nose.'
That's a strange-looking animal.
Why do they have such big noses?
The females like it.
The male with the biggest nose gets the most females.
-So that male's a real looker to the females.
The bigger the nose, the more females, the more babies,
the more proboscis monkeys.
'And from the amount of females he was surrounded by,
'this male is the Harry Styles of proboscis monkeys.'
'But with a...slightly more unusual dress sense.'
It looks like he's got an orange jumper on.
And white Y-fronts.
Oh, look at your funny face.
If I were a judge in a beauty contest,
I don't think he'd be in first place.
'Everything about these monkeys looks out of place.'
They have quite, um, round bellies too, don't they?
They actually have a specialised diet.
So the leaves that they eat are very hard to digest
and so it causes their stomachs to be big like that.
-They're full of gas.
They really don't have a lot going in their favour, do they?
But you'll never forget one after you've seen one.
You'll never forget that face.
I think they're very endearing.
There's nothing else like them in the world.
I think the nose just gives them a lot of character
and they're just goofy and they're fun.
Have you ever felt a proboscis monkey's nose?
When we collar them, we have them down with us
and so it's the first thing that you kind of need to experience
-when you've got a proboscis....
-What does it feel like?
It's very soft and squishy.
-That's what it looks like.
They really are completely bizarre to look at, aren't they?
Windy, big noses, pot bellies.
Oh and another thing - they have black teeth.
From all of the tannins in the leaves that they eat.
Oh. Yeah, that doesn't really surprise me at all.
'These monstrous monkeys really do have the most frightful features.'
and black gnashers.
Thankfully, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
To the female monkeys, those comical conks
give the males superstar looks.
But I think it might be a bit harsh to call them my worst nightmare
just because of their odd noses and their pot bellies.
-Don't you think, guys?
Everything about these rainforests is on a vast scale.
Towering trees are home to humongous insects, giant spiders and snakes,
leeches as long as your forearm.
But one of the biggest and baddest is a lethal lizard with a brutal bite
and a tail like a battering ram.
The water monitor lizard is an aquatic monster
who stalks the rivers and wetlands right across Asia,
one of the largest lizards in the world.
It's got a flesh-ripping mouth,
and a whole lot of angry attitude.
I'm on the hunt for this cold-blooded killer with Dr Sergio.
Sergio regularly lays baited traps along the river bank
to try and catch them as part of his research.
But have any of the traps been sprung?
-We have one.
-We have one? We have one.
And it is not happy with its predicament.
Are they very dangerous?
Not dangerous, but tricky to handling.
-Tricky to handle.
It's... If we are not careful,
they can bite us and then the bite can be quite harmful.
-We don't want to go to the hospital.
We don't want to go to the hospital. Correct.
Water monitors have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth,
but that's only part of the problem.
Their saliva is laced with nasty bacteria which can cause
a debilitating infection.
This isn't going to be easy.
'To do this safely, Sergio needs help, and not from a novice like me.'
So, these are tough lizards to handle.
As you can see, it takes not one person but three to hold one lizard.
One to hold that deadly bite, one to hold that whipping tail,
and the other one to be making sure those claws
don't do anyone any damage.
Sergio has done this countless times before.
Cor, that's a strong animal.
It might look like a bit of a wrestling match
but this tough lizard isn't harmed in the process,
and with a little careful manoeuvring,
the lizard is finally brought under control.
Well done, Sergio.
'Only when the lizard is fully restrained,
'can Sergio start his work.'
So why do you do these checks?
Why do you try and trap them?
-We can estimate how big is the population.
Also we are taking samples.
What sort of things?
Blood, scales for genetics and also to look for diseases, parasites.
-Just a general health check, really.
-Kind of general, yeah.
-See what condition they're in.
And it gives me a chance to see its weapons at close quarters.
-Look at those claws!
-Yeah, they are big.
-They're super-sharp. Can I feel it?
Whoaaa, mega-sharp. A set of knives.
'And the bigger they grow, the more intimidating they become.'
-Is that as long as you find them?
No. No, no, no.
I would say this is the average, but the longest could be
-more than 2.5 metres.
-Around 2.5 metres.
'So what draws someone to want to study such an angry
'and potentially dangerous animal?'
-I love this animal so much.
I have a kind of passion with dragons
and they seem like small dragons.
-It's like a real-life dragon. Yeah. Time to let you go.
Thanks for letting us do all those checks.
Are you just going to take that off and then we just let it go?
-Do we just stand back?
We'll move it over there. Yeah, take it.
SHE LAUGHS ANXIOUSLY
Did you see that go?! Wow.
Water monitors really need people like Sergio to champion them
because, to be quite honest, they are pretty terrifying.
With that flesh-ripping bite and angry attitude,
that prehistorical predator has all the attributes
to take it straight to the top of the leaderboard.
Throughout this series, the crew have introduced me to a kaleidoscope
of creepy creatures and chilling challenges, and I have faced them all
with strength, courage and a bucket-load of determination!
There is nothing that you lot can come up with
that Wilkinson here won't try.
"You've got to go for a dip in the ocean, but this time in the dark."
It's at night when many marine predators are at their most active.
All along this pier, lights illuminate the water,
which attracts all sorts of small fish.
And where there are small fish, the big fish aren't far behind.
I'm going to need all the help I can get for this one.
Joining me again is marine biologist Simon, who wants to show me
what he says is one of the most astonishing marine predators,
with looks that can kill.
You might be a bit wary about it
because it's got loads of beautiful fins all over,
feathery, feathery fins like this underwater,
but on the top of each one
is like a hypodermic needle with poison, venom.
So, if I touched it what would happen to me?
You would get a burning sensation. If you did it too much,
you might get a little bit of heart trouble or so on.
This nocturnal nightmare regularly hunts around the likes of this pier,
and Simon is keen for us to get in the water
so that I can see for myself how impressive this marine predator is.
If only I was as keen as him.
And he's in.
Everything about this fish sounds like it's saying,
"Don't go in the water."
It's surrounded by venomous spines.
Wish me luck.
This is so creepy.
The mind boggles as to what monsters are lurking out there in the dark.
Do people really do this for fun?
I hate it! Euggh.
'I want this challenge to be over...
'..but finding something in the dark is never easy.'
Oh, there it is, there it is!
Finally, I'm face-to-face with this marine monster.
'It's a lionfish...
'..and at first glance, it doesn't appear to be as big and bad
'as I imagined.'
It's quite small.
If I hadn't heard it was a bit deadly,
I would just think it was a very pretty fish.
It's like it's covered in frills and fans
like it's going to a carnival.
'But its luscious looks are a masterful deceit.'
With a skirt of venomous fins,
lionfish are not only protected from attack,
it's also a cunning disguise.
They resemble a piece of drifting seaweed,
allowing them to close in on any unsuspecting fish,
Using the most astonishing reflexes, dinner is served.
'This ornate ogre might terrorise the smaller fish along the pier,
'but it soon became apparent that if I keep my distance,
'it's no threat to me at all.'
It's currently clamped itself up against a stone.
So, I think it might be more scared of us than we are of it,
which is always good to know.
So, considering it's so dangerous, it's pretty timid.
And the mesmerising show it's putting on
soon has me forgetting about my fears.
Well, most of them.
I really like looking at this fish.
I don't like looking behind me. SHE LAUGHS
The idea of doing this was absolutely terrifying
but, in fact, it turned out to be pretty cool.
I was just transfixed by the lionfish.
And actually what makes it lethal, surprisingly,
is what makes it so beautiful. Isn't that funny?
So, maybe not too much of a nightmare for me
but for a little fish in there, minding its own business,
that lightning-fast, venom-finned fish of fury,
is the worst of nightmares.
Nerve-racking night dive over, I'm soon back in the water,
but this time I don't need any persuading.
The spectacular coral reefs that thrive off Malaysian Borneo
Seeing all this life, it comes to no surprise to discover
this is one of the richest and most diverse habitats on earth.
Snorkelling off the island of Sipadan is an experience you never forget.
Ooh, there's a turtle!
There's a turtle! It's absolutely beautiful!
Oh, this is amazing!
Humans have been around for just a few hundred thousand years,
but turtles are ancient.
Swimming in our oceans for over two hundred million years,
they've outlived the dinosaurs.
But alongside so many marine animals, in recent years,
they've been facing a nightmare of their own.
And the problem is this - plastic and rubbish.
More and more of this is ending up in our oceans
and it is having a HUGE impact on the health of our seas.
'On the island of Mabul...' I'm Naomi.
'..I meet up with diver and marine conservationist Dave.'
He's trying to inspire the locals
and turn the tide on this wave of waste.
Dave's organised a big beach clean-up,
and some of the children from the local village
are keen to get involved.
THEY SHOUT EXCITEDLY
Dave, we're on such a remote offshore island here.
Where is all this rubbish coming from?
Well, unfortunately, most of the oceans around the world are polluted
with our plastic and you've got the ocean currents
that are normally responsible for transporting nutrients
and regulating the oceans and the world's temperatures,
but now, unfortunately, they're transporting our waste.
'And these currents can carry it an awful long way.'
Somebody discarding plastic out of New York,
that rubbish will actually travel along an ocean current
and possibly end up polluting the west coast of Europe.
'It's pollution that sticks around for a very long time.'
So, Naomi, this plastic bottle will take over 450 years to break down.
SHE GASPS One plastic bottle?
One plastic bottle. Plastic bags can take up to 20 years.
I think if people knew that it took this long to break down,
they maybe would think twice about discarding it.
Oh, we've got to do something about it. This is awful.
-I just can't get over how much rubbish there is here.
Plastic is now a problem everywhere.
Even the most remote islands on earth have been polluted.
It's not just unsightly, it's devastating to wildlife.
Over 600 species have been affected by plastics.
What do they do, do they eat it?
Some of them eat it, so you'll get whales and turtles that mistake it,
especially with plastic bags, they'll mistake it for jellyfish.
Once it's within their system they can't digest it
and it causes blockages, internal damage,
and inevitably they die a very slow and painful death.
The consequences are heartbreaking.
It feels like a fight we're struggling to win.
It does feel like this is quite a small solution
-to an ocean-sized problem.
-It certainly is.
Is there anything else we can do apart from these beach clean-ups?
I would say, with these beach clean-ups and reef clean-ups,
it does help in the short-term,
but in the long-term, we really need to change our ways.
We need to change our behaviours.
We need to stop using plastics,
start refusing throwaway plastic bags that we get in the supermarket.
Re-use plastics that can be reused. Recycle if you can recycle.
So, someone watching at home, they could persuade their parents
to not buy so much plastic at the supermarket, something like that?
I think that would make a huge difference.
-Take a material bag with you shopping?
-Yes. A bag for life.
-Things like that?
Anything you can think of to stop using plastic at home - do it!
So, we've been collecting for just over half an hour
and look at all of this.
I mean, having the chance to snorkel here was truly unforgettable,
but the thought that we are slowly choking our oceans of life
because of this is heartbreaking,
and that is why the problems that plastic are causing
for marine life, could well take the Nightmares of Nature crown.
It's time for me to pull the plug on my watery adventures
on the island of Borneo.
I have faced a feast of my very worst fears
and met more than a few curious-looking critters.
But which has been the biggest nightmare of all?
Was it my dip in the dark with the lethal lionfish?
I hate it!
Maybe the revolting revelation that Borneo's beaches
are actually made of fish poo?
They're constantly pooing all the time!
Was it the prehistoric predator with vicious claws,
jaws and attitude, the monitor lizard?
No, it was none of those.
I may have had a dream-like experience swimming with turtles,
but the problems these animals are facing because of plastic
and rubbish choking our oceans
just has to be my biggest nightmare of all.
My nightmares have been coming thick and fast, and yet I have faced
them all with strength, courage and a bucket-load of determination.
There is nothing that you lot can ask me to do
that Wilkinson won't try!
That's the wrong way round. LAUGHTER
-Sorry, I'm so sorry!