Naomi Wilkinson continues her global search for nightmares of the natural world. Naomi and her trusty camper van Daisy explore the Pembrokeshire coast.
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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.
DOGS HOWL, SNAKE HISSES
I'm Naomi Wilkinson, woohoo!
'And I'm coming face to face'
with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle...
..your heart beat faster...
GROWLING, THEY GASP
..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.
This time on Nightmares of Nature, I'm on a road trip.
But this is no holiday by the seaside, oh, no!
Me and my trusty campervan, Daisy...
HORN BEEPS ..we're on a mission to track down
the very worst home-grown horrors of the UK coast.
The Pembrokeshire coast, to be precise,
in the far, far west of Wales.
..and full of formidable fiends.
'My quest will see me searching high...'
I don't want to do it!
'Oh, and doing a scientific experiment.'
But, before all that, I'm off to sea.
My first nightmare contender is the UK's largest meat-eater.
They can weigh twice as much as a red deer.
They have teeth bigger than an Alsatian dog
and the males will fight to the death to gain access to females.
'And you can find them right here.'
Ramsey Island has this wild, rocky shoreline,
isolated bays and, look,
one of the fastest tidal flows in the whole of the UK.
'This torrent of water brings in the fish -
'our nightmare contender's favourite food.
'Local kayaker John...
'..is going to take me into their world
'on this TINY kayak.'
Are we going to be meeting a nightmare of nature,
that's the question?
-Not too nightmarish, I hope!
Are they aggressive?
If we really get in their way,
but hopefully we're not going to do that. OK.
'This is an animal you need to give some space.'
Are we heading straight into this cave?
I think we should, yeah.
-Are you sure this is a good idea?
-NAOMI LAUGHS NERVOUSLY
You're not replying, I'm getting scared.
It's quite creepy.
This is going to really make me jump if one pops up now.
Little bit on edge.
Oh! NAOMI GASPS
-Yeah! OK, so that's an adult male.
-NAOMI SIGHS HEAVILY
Is that him making that sort of snorting noise?
It's like there's a dragon in there.
Shall we...shall we back out?
'Guessed what it is yet? It's...
'the grey seal!'
'They are, potentially,
'some of the most aggressive mammals
'you'll ever face in the wilds of Britain.
'Big fat bruisers of the boxing ring.
'Just under half of all the grey seals in the world
'can be found in the UK.
'They can grow to be longer than my paddle.'
They are huge, aren't they?
-They are massive.
-Do they really need to be that big?
They do need to be that big, yeah, to fight against the other males.
Size is a dominant thing, so big males win over smaller males.
So the bigger they are, the more the females like them?
Yeah, it shows that the male's strong enough
to look after the female and the female's young.
'Fighting also explains the teeth.' SEALS GROWL
They use their teeth and quite often you'll see the males
with scars down their chest and stuff,
-where they've been fighting.
-Yeah, so war wounds, really.
'Those fangs are also to be avoided, if you're a fish.'
The big teeth also come in really handy for chewing fish to pieces
and probably even ripping them apart, you know?
'Nasty! And it seems we've got one on our tail.'
I guess they feel safer if they're behind you, don't they?
-Yeah, quite often they'll follow the kayaks...
-Don't feel threatened.
..so they can keep a good eye on what we're doing
-and our movements.
'Out in the daylight, though, they don't seem menacing at all.'
Ah, they're gorgeous!
She's right under our kayak right now.
She's having a play around down there.
'Despite all this talk of aggression, I think I'm starting to like them.'
-I can see her whiskers and eyebrows.
-Yeah, it's amazing, isn't it?
So all those whiskers just give them massive sensitivity in the water?
That's it, yeah, so they can feel fish going past
-All the vibrations?
Ah! She just did a fantastic roll and dive.
'They're so agile. They can move faster in the water
'than an Olympian, which they need to do
'to catch a fish.
'10 kilos of fish a day, that's the weight
'of a small, over-stuffed suitcase.' SEAL HOWLS
'All that fish is what builds the blubber
'that keeps them warm in our chilly waters.
'And their acrobatic antics mean you never know where one might pop up.'
'Like with this inquisitive bunch that's come to check us out.'
And it's this cheeky nature that has got them
into some quite interesting situations.
'On nearby Skomer Island,
'this brazen bruiser hijacked a dinghy.
'He must have been comfy,
'because he refused to budge for four whole days.
SNORING 'Cheeky chap.'
'Kayaking these caves and coves today
'and meeting their residents has left me feeling conflicted.'
Well, they're undeniably huge creatures, they've got massive teeth.
Definitely not an animal you should get too close to,
but, with their doe eyes, their cheeky disposition
and that curious nature,
could I really call the grey seal my worst nightmare?
SEAL SNORTS Laters!
JOHN LAUGHS I think he definitely just said goodbye.
SHE MIMICS SEAL SNORT
It's time for me and Daisy to move on down the coast
in search of a nice sandy beach.
Ah, the great British seaside!
Lapping waves, sandcastles, ice cream,
what could possibly be a nightmare here?
Well, you might not think it, but rock pools
are one of nature's most brutal battlegrounds.
Anything living here must fight, hide, or attack
just to stay alive.
As the tide retreats, the pools it leaves behind
are small and overflowing with occupants.
Dinner is each other.
Marooned in puddles, there's nowhere to escape.
So each must work out a strategy to outwit their opponents
in the ultimate battle.
I want to show you what really goes on in our rock pools.
Far from peace and quiet, it's a riot in there!
So may I present to you... Naomi's Nightmares Rock Pool Lab!
Here in Tank One, we have limpets.
Now limpets, you might think, boring!
An animal that just sits around all day and all night
doing very little.
Haha! That is where you are wrong.
Limpets gets my vote as top fighter of our rock pools!
And I give you the battle between the limpet and...
Remember, this is going on in these rock pools
and in rock pools all around our coast all the time,
it's just much easier to show you in here.
There are our limpets minding their own business
and I'm going to introduce a common starfish.
Let me just show you this.
That's its mouth. It has eyes on the end of its legs
and that's its bum.
Starfish eat limpets.
They do it by expelling their stomach out through their mouth,
digesting the limpet and then sucking it back down again.
What a way to go!
But will our little heroes fight back?
Starfish use smell to hunt, so let's see
if it gets a whiff of those limpets.
Yep. Yep, it's got a whiff.
It's on its way.
It's moving towards the limpets
using those hundreds of little tubed feet
on its underside.
Obviously hungry, this one.
Now watch for the really cool bit.
So the limpet is trying to trap the tentacles of the starfish
under its shell.
No way! It's totally got it!
It's totally got it! Ooh, the poor starfish!
Who would have thought it?
Tank Two and my second super strategy
for surviving in a rock pool.
It's...the hermit crab.
Hermit crabs don't have their own shells.
They use empty snail shells as their homes,
finding just the right size to protect their soft bottoms.
Look at these guys. Now, if I pick him up...
Ooh! ..he'll retreat into his shell.
Not many predators are going to be able to get him in there.
But if I put him back in the water
he'll relax, realising that he is not under attack,
and he'll come out.
Look at his little eyes!
Now, you might look at a hermit crab and think, yeah, that's nice,
but not much going on between their ears.
Hang on, do hermit crabs even have ears?
Anyway, their strategy for survival is very clever.
They hide and they do it in a very cunning way.
To demonstrate, I've got a whole lot of hermit crabs in this tank,
in dark coloured shells, against light coloured sand,
so, at the moment, they're about as camouflaged
as a load of flamingos in the Arctic.
I'm going to pop in some shells that match the sand
and let's see what they do.
Yes! Immediately, they are checking out the new shells
that match the background.
It's like a tenant investigating a new house.
Is it empty? Yes, it is.
Can I move in? Yes, I can.
Will I be more camouflaged? Definitely.
Ooh, yeah, he's moving in.
SHE GASPS Go on, in you go.
Shuffling into position.
Bum's going in!
Yes! We have a new tenant.
'These clever crabs hide from predators
'by blending with their background.'
My third tank and final survival strategy,
it's the top predators of our rock pools.
'This guy's strategy
'is to be downright nasty.'
I'm going to try and get him out.
IN FUNNY VOICE: Oh, no, no, no! I'm really nervous of you!
This is the velvet swimming crab.
Look at those red eyes, HUGE claws
and flattened back legs, perfect for swimming.
Got little paddles on the back.
If you live in a rock pool, this would be your worst nightmare.
'Crabs like this and its other crabby counterparts
'will use their razor sharp pincers
'to tear at their victims,
'ripping out the flesh.'
'You wouldn't want to end up marooned with these
'or any other top predators of the pools.
'It's a beastly battleground,
'which makes the rock pool a definite contender
'for my worst nightmare.'
Away from the rock pools, Britain's beautiful beaches
are lovely relaxing spots to kick back and enjoy the sunshine.
Oh, except that my next nightmare
may put you off ever sunbathing again.
This nightmare could be hiding under your beach towel,
slithering through your sandcastle, lurking in the shallows.
WARNING! If you are of a nervous disposition,
you possibly shouldn't watch this,
am on the hunt for ragworm.
Squelchy squirmers that lurk beneath our sandy feet.
They live underground on beaches all around our coast.
These writhing wrigglers are no strangers to fishermen,
who use them as bait.
And that's why Neil here...
..is digging them up today.
Oh, and they have a special feature
that other worms don't -
Great, let's go and find some.
You can tell their whereabouts from tiny pinpricks in the ground,
the entrance to their burrow.
Here's some small holes.
-Oh, I see.
-OK, so we better get digging.
-And see if we can unearth one.
-Give it a go.
Here, raggy, raggy, raggy!
Do they ever come up to the surface?
Like, do you ever see them just walking around on the sand?
No, no, the birds would be having them.
-So they prefer to stay hidden?
-So we are safe, when we're sunbathing.
-Just paddling and stuff.
IN NERVOUS VOICE: Good.
Can you see one?
A baby one.
-Ooh, it's tiny!
-A little tiddler.
That one shouldn't bite you.
-What shall I do with that?
-Put him in with the rest of them.
OK. All right, cheers, Neil.
All right, no worries.
Quite tiny. Not too bad like that.
But we've got some here that we collected earlier
that appear to be significantly bigger.
Oh, my word!
The crew think it would be a really good idea if I pick one up,
so we can have a very good look at it.
They're massive! No!
Hold on, I've got to psych myself up for this.
SHE LAUGHS This is going to take a bit of nerve.
I'm having hagfish flashbacks!
SHE SHOUTS AND LAUGHS
Right, get brave, get brave.
Eugh, I don't like the way they feel!
Ooh, no. These are really soft.
SHE LAUGHS Right, come here, you!
Bear with me, caller!
Maybe I'll try a different one.
No, come on. Come on, Naomi. Be brave.
SHE WHISPERS TO HERSELF
Right, I got it, I've got it. Got it.
Naomi, why are you shaking?
Eugh, it's like an alien, isn't it?
So that end is its mouth
and in there it has teeth and two sets of big, large big pincers,
which you might see every now and again.
And it uses those to grab its prey, or to fend off any attacker
that might try and get it while it's in its burrow.
There! Did you see that? BITING NOISE
You can probably see those two...
pincers that are trying to bite me right now.
That didn't really hurt, but I don't like it.
'You can find these beasties at your local beach,
'just in case you fancy holding one, too.'
So can you see they've got loads of tiny little pairs of legs
all the way down its body?
And it uses those for walking on the sand,
for pushing through the mud and even swimming.
Now, when it comes to feeding, the ragworm really does it all.
They scavenge for anything dead they can find,
they hunt down live prey and they filter the water
to catch a meal too and the way they do that is pretty ingenious.
They produce slime and then they'll use that slime
and weave it into a net across their burrow,
which will then filter out any smaller critters in the water.
They'll then eat those animals and the net, too.
BITING SOUND, SHE SHOUTS
Oh! It scratched me with its pincers. Urgh!
Ooh, I don't like you!
Slimy, creepy, wriggly,
downright disgusting ragworm -
you could easily be my worst nightmare.
I've had enough of the seaside.
Time to speed away from the nightmares of British beaches
in search of my final contender.
My next animal lives in a nightmare place.
It's crowded, it's remote, battered by wind and rain,
and surrounded by sheer drops and, well,
just downright scary.
That place is the dizzying...
HORROR MUSIC ..craggy, coastal cliffs
GENTLE MUSIC ..Skomer Island.
A lump of rock sitting off the west coast of Wales.
In the spring and summer, it's sea bird central!
12,000 puffins, the largest colony of shearwaters in the world,
and hundreds of black-backed gulls.
But the super survivors of this island are...
Thousands of these feisty fliers
nestle on the island every year to breed.
The trouble is, getting off the island again
involves a feat of Olympian proportions!
To help me understand these plucky birds,
I'm meeting up with Elspeth Kenny...
..a real life guillemot scientist.
-So this is where you live, is it?
-Pretty much, pretty much.
-Hang out, yeah?
-Yeah, just hang out here in the sun.
-All the time.
We've got a whole lot of birds on the cliff.
Which ones are the guillemots?
So the guillemots are the ones in big clumps
and they're sort of chocolaty brown and white.
-Kind of like mini penguins?
-That's exactly how I describe them.
-Do you? Oh, cool.
-Yep, that I study mini penguins!
'These brave birds choose to nest on cliffs,
'often 100 metres above the sea.
'It gets pretty crowded up there.'
I think it's a bit like trying to have a baby on the Tube,
-because...trying to raise a kid and look after it.
And they're all jam-packed in,
with somebody's armpit in their face and...
Why would they all hang out together?
Why don't they find a space?
They breed so densely to deter other predators,
so, when a gull comes down and tries to get their egg
or their chick or anything,
they all just look at the gull and force their beaks up towards them
and ward the gull away from each other.
-Safety in numbers.
'The pros of community bouncers does mean
'putting up with the cons of badly-behaved neighbours.'
Actually, I'm sure I saw one that looked like it had been pooed on.
Oh, yeah, all the time.
Eugh! If my neighbour pooed on me, I would move away.
ELSPETH LAUGHS Wouldn't be a friend any more.
'Even though they look like they're LITERALLY living
'on top of each other,
'each pair actually has its own personal territory.
'Just big enough for one single egg.'
How come the eggs don't just roll off and fall into the water?
-I have some model eggs to show you.
-Here's some I made earlier!
And, as you can see, the egg is a very unusual shape.
If you compare to a chicken egg,
-this guillemot egg is much more pointed.
'It's thought this pointy shape stops it rolling off the cliff.
'The rest is up to Mum and Dad.'
Both the mother and father take turns in incubating the egg
-and, when they swap, they're both very careful.
-I was going to say,
-that's got to be a moment where they're worried.
'Considering the care taken over the egg,
'the fate of the chick is somewhat ironic.'
So once the little chick hatches out of the egg,
how does it get off the cliff?
Erm, it jumps...
'That's right! When guillemot chicks reach around three weeks old,
'they simply hurl themselves into the void.
'And they can't yet fly!
'Move over, Tom Daley,
'this is how diving is done!
'Gather some fans to cheer you on.'
So when the chick is ready to leave...
-..the father goes down to the sea
and starts calling it, so it's encouraging it to jump off
-and the little chick sort of 60, 70, 80 metres above...
..can hear, among all those other birds, its father calling at it.
'Steel yourself for the jump.
'It takes the chicks a little while to psych themselves up.'
-You see them sort of getting up the courage to do it.
-Nudged on by other adult guillemots around.
And eventually they just sort of fall off the cliff.
'The guillemot dive is less than graceful.'
They'll tumble down from their ledge and they might bash into other birds
rolling down the cliff and they flap like mad,
which might slow them down a bit
and then they plop into the sea.
Does it not hurt itself?
Erm, no, they're pretty tough.
-They're really fluffy!
They seem to land in the water absolutely fine.
'Once in the water, there's one final stage left and that's...
'to celebrate the victory.'
Once they're on the water, their father is there waiting for them.
-So there's all these young chicks
and all these fathers in the water, calling and calling
-and calling each other incessantly.
And once they've met up, they spend the next few weeks out at sea
just with their father and their father teaches them
how to forage and protects it.
-Right, hang on. Let me get this straight.
So these little chicks, they've been out of the egg, what?
-Two to three weeks.
-Nice warm egg. Then they're having to leap
50 metres, or way higher, into the sea,
they've never swum before and they've got no idea where they're going.
-That sounds like a seriously nightmarish thing to do.
Blimey, glad I'm not a guillemot chick.
HORN BLARES, SHE SIGHS
Spoke too soon.
"Jump like a guillemot chick."
'Pembrokeshire's coastline is dotted with natural dive boards.
'Thankfully, I won't be alone.
'Joining me for a spot of coasteering are outdoor enthusiasts...'
'And an experienced guide, grey seal John again.
'He's kitted us out in all our safety gear
'and knows precisely which rocks are safe to sail from around here.'
OK, so you're going to take a nice big leap, right the way out,
aiming to get as far away from the rock as possible.
In the air, you can wriggle around a little bit,
as long as, when you're coming in to land,
you make sure you've got your legs together.
One other tip is don't look down at the water.
-So how do you stop it going up your nose?
-Just breathe out your nose.
Out through your nose...like a seal.
'Time for a few practice jumps before the big one.
'Our gutsy guillemots on Skomer jump from 60 metres.
'That's like me jumping from five times the height of Big Ben!
'If I did that, I'd break my neck.
'So our gigantic jump will be
'from a more reasonable seven metres.
'Time to gather some fans.
'While my dad might not be cheering me on from the water, the crew are.
'Now for Stage 2 - preparing ourselves for the jump.'
-Oh, my heart's suddenly started going like the clappers!
And a guillemot will jump from, what, 10 times or more the height of this?
What do you think of what the guillemot does?
How are you feeling about doing this?
Nervous, it's my first time, so...
feeling like a guillemot, really.
-A bit anxious?
'That's an understatement.
'I think I'll let my fellow guillemots go first.
'Now for the descent.
'Good luck, everyone.'
MUSIC: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
-Ah! You made that look so easy.
That means it's only me left. Oh!
Oh! SHE LAUGHS NERVOUSLY
I don't want to do it!
'Guillemots, I'm doing this for you.'
'Let's see that again in...
SLOW MOTION VOICE: '..slow-mo replay.
'Oh, no! I forgot to flap!'
SLOW MOTION CHEERING
Whoa! I tell you what...
much respect, guillemot chick. I salute you!
I can now say, with first-hand experience,
your death-defying dive truly qualifies
as a nightmare of nature.
It's time for me to bid farewell to the fearsome UK coast.
But, out of all my nightmare encounters,
which one will top my list?
Will it be that cheeky chappy, the grey seal?
Oh, my goodness.
She's right underneath our kayak right now.
Or is it the hostile world of the rock pool,
with its feisty inhabitants?
Who would have thought it?
Well, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you've figured out that it is...
the subterranean, scissor mouthed, slimy British burrower...
It probably got your vote, too.
It might the fishermen's favourite
but it's definitely my worst UK nightmare.
No-one else will carry anything.
-Every time someone...
They just pass me stuff all the time, like, "Take this, take this."
It's all I'm here for.
-I'm a pack horse.
Thanks, Rich. Do you want me...?
-You all right? OK. Yeah, I've got it.
I've had a great day.
Naomi Wilkinson and her trusty camper van Daisy hit the road to explore the nightmares of nature along the Pembrokeshire coast. She kayaks the caves and coves in search of the UK's biggest meat eater, digs deep in search of the wriggling, biting worms that tunnel beneath our beach towels, and takes a dive with Skomer's bravest bird.