Steve is in Central America for another of his best missions. He takes to the water in search of a monster of the deep seas, and seeks the world's biggest wasp.
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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!
And this is Deadly 60 On A Mission.
My team and I are travelling the world
in search of the planet's deadliest animals.
'I want to find out what makes them so deadly...' Oh, yeah!
And that means getting close to them in the wild.
Only the most lethal will make my list.
And in this series, we're going to show you
my most extreme animal encounters.
And you're coming with me every step of the way.
This time on Deadly 60, we're in one of the deadliest deserts I know.
This is Mexico.
Specifically the Baja Peninsula.
There's more venomous and poisonous creatures here
than almost anywhere else on the planet.
I'm going to take you tantalisingly close to the very best of them.
And then we're heading south... for some jungle action.
The creatures we'll be meeting are all deadly in their own world.
But there are also a lot of animals that could be dangerous to us.
So, let's get this mission started.
Off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, in the Sea of Cortez,
where I'm on the trail of a deep-sea monster.
These guys are fishermen looking for the exact animal
that we're trying to find.
The call it Diablo Rojo which is the red devil
and they tell stories of them ripping fishermen from their boats
and tearing them to shreds.
I don't know about any of that, but what I do know for sure
is that this is one of the most dangerous animals we're going to see
and it's called the Humboldt squid.
The Sea of Cortez is heaving with assassin squid,
and they're an important part of the local fishing catch.
So we're teaming up with some fishermen in hopes of getting a look
at one of these beasts.
So what's happening now is these guys are putting lines
way, way deep down. During the day these squid are about 200m plus
under water, but now it's dusk time, the sun is going down
and they'll be coming closer and closer to the surface to feed.
So they're going to trawl around, see if they can pull something in.
And when they do, we'll see our first squid.
We've got something big coming in.
I'm so excited!
On the end of this line could be the creature we're after.
How much line has he put in here?!
I see it! I see something! I can see a light shape coming towards us.
Here it comes.
Oh, no, look at that! Yes! Yes! Wow!
Look at the colours pulsing down the body.
I can't believe it!
There's the beak he's pointing out to us there.
That's the danger end.
I can't believe he's letting his fingers get that close to it.
Look at that! It's like a giant parrot's beak.
And it can cut straight through flesh and even bone.
It would easily take off one of my fingers. Right,
look down the length of all of these tentacles.
Each one has sucker cups running all the way down the length of it
and every one of those sucker cups is ringed with razor-sharp teeth
that slice straight through flesh and they use those to catch a hold
of slippery sardines and small fish
that they're going to be eating and draw them in.
Our next step has to be get in the water
and get close to them in their own environment.
So we're getting kitted up.
For protection, our safety diver Scott, the cameraman and I
have to wear chain-mail suits.
In addition, we'll be attached to the boat by steel safety cables.
That's because there's a risk that several squid could attack one of us
and between them, they'd be able to drag their victim into the deep.
You OK, Steve?
Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine.
'Humboldt squid will hunt collectively in squadrons
'of as many as 1,200.
'They'll tear apart anything they can overpower,
'including unwary scuba divers.
'Scott spots a squid just below the boat
'and it's a good size.'
Look at that!
'At first, he didn't seem that pleased to see us.'
Look at all the ink it's squirting into the water!
That's the method the squid uses to get away from its predators,
because no predator is going to know where it is
behind that smokescreen.
Look at it now, covering the camera!
OK, I'm going to, very gently, just try and take control of the head.
Oh, I've got it!
I've got my first Humboldt squid underwater!
Now you can see why they call them the Red Devil or the Red Demon.
Oh, crikey! He just made a lunge for the camera lens there.
These squid really are extraordinary predators.
In addition to their crunching beak and serrated suckers,
they can move at speed using a siphon to power through the water.
Look there, it's got its tentacles around my arm
and I can feel the gripping of those teeth.
Actually, you can feel it, even through the chainmail suit.
And here, that's where that snapping beak is.
I want to take great care not to get my fingers close to it,
because I think I'd lose them.
Well, I know I'd lose them.
That's the really ferocious bit of the Humboldt squid.
'And just as I'm trying to get a better look...
Oh, crikey! It's got a hold of my hand!
It's actually... Argh!
Oh, dear, me! This... Argh!
The strength of the beak -
it just actually bit me right through the chainmail suit.
It really pinched my arm.
You can see how easy it would be
for a creature like this to power itself away, using that siphon.
But also, to create that smokescreen
that is going to make it almost impossible
for another predator that uses sight to hunt by
to find the Humboldt squid.
I'm just going to release it now.
That really is a sea monster,
if ever I saw one.
Ha! I don't think anyone's going to doubt that the Humboldt squid
has got to go in the Deadly 60.
Thanks to its siphon, it's jet-propelled...
..and locks on to its victim with thousands of sucker-cup teeth...
before devouring it with a scalpel-sharp beak.
Believe me, Humboldt squid got the adrenaline going.
Leaving the coast, we're heading for the Baja Peninsula's dry interior,
in search of a highly venomous collection of creatures.
Top of my agenda is one of the world's largest wasps,
which also has one of the most painful stings of any insect.
Oh, there's one, look.
This huge insect is the toxic tarantula hawk wasp.
So called because it hunts tarantulas.
Here it comes, here it comes.
What he's doing at the moment is just circling around this area
trying to find his food.
'Well, actually, that's food for its young,
'in the form of a giant spider that lives underground.'
Has he found one?
'Our guide's seen a wasp disappear into a burrow.'
That hole there...
is the hole of a tarantula.
'This is our chance to catch the wasp on the way out.'
-It's coming out, it's coming out, it's coming out.
Right. I've got to be ever so careful how I do this,
because the tarantula hawk wasp
has a sting that's reputed to be
the most painful
of any invertebrate.
Ooh! And he's off! No, come back!
'Yeah, that wasn't a great time to break my net.'
Got it! Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it!
Oh, no! He went out the hole!
Oh, no, I can't believe it! That's so frustrating!
You come back here now!
I had him
but I've got a great big hole in my net.
And he just flew straight out through it.
-He's coming this way, Steve.
Got her. Got her. Right.
Now, this time, you are not getting away.
I've got to be ever so careful. I don't want to damage her,
but also, her sting is absolutely paralysing.
There she is.
..is the tarantula hawk wasp, or pepsis wasp.
And she is...
..one of the most incredible predators
found anywhere in the world.
Look at the size of her sting.
(Right. There we go.)
Look at that.
Glorious, glorious colour -
very vibrant metallic blue,
with bright orange wings,
but don't let her beauty fool you.
This is one the most grotesque killers
in the whole of the animal kingdom.
This giant predatory wasp first locates a tarantula...
..then outmanoeuvres it and hits it with a paralysing venomous sting.
The spider's still alive but completely defenceless.
Then things get REALLY nasty.
The wasp drags its paralysed victim to a safe place
and lays an egg in the spider's abdomen.
The egg hatches out into a grub, which grows,
slowly devouring the living spider from the inside out.
Look at the mandibles. Look at the size
of these jaws here.
This creature here has a strength way beyond her size.
Well, if I was to get stung by this,
I'd be able to think about nothing else for 24 hours.
So, I don't think there is any doubt
that the tarantula hawk wasp has got to go on the Deadly 60.
It vies with the Japanese giant hornet
for the title of biggest wasp in the world...
it preys on even bigger spiders...
..paralysing them with an incredibly painful sting.
Approach with caution - this insect is deadly.
'As bad as a sting from this wasp could be,
'when we head South to the jungle,
'we'll be meeting a creature capable of inflicting even more pain.'
'But first, this is Baja,
'just about the best place in the world for all kinds of rattlesnakes.
'I can't leave a hotspot like this without devoting a day
'to getting some rattlers on my list.
'In no time, we've got one.'
Hey, yeah, you beauty!
Don't go anywhere.
I didn't want to say anything, cos I didn't want to tempt fate,
but this was exactly the animal I've come here hoping to find.
Got it. Got it. Yeah.
This is THE snake
of the Baja Peninsula.
It's a red diamond rattlesnake.
If I lay it down,
you can see the distinctive diamond-shaped pattern
running all the way down its back.
The colouration on that can be a really vibrant red,
which is where it gets its name from.
The rattle's not used at all in actually catching its prey.
The whole purpose of it is getting rid of animals
that are big and might threaten it,
but are far too big for it to try and eat.
Rattlesnakes are in a group of snakes called the pit vipers,
and if you look very closely at his head, you'll see,
in between the nostril and the eye
a tiny pit which can sense heat
in the moving muscles of the things it feeds on.
It's actually quite a lazy snake.
The way it was sitting when we found it is how it will spend
its entire day and sometimes two or three days at a time
until a warm-blooded animal like a small mouse walks past.
And then, the movement is like lightning.
It's less of a bite, really, and more of stab.
The fangs deliver a dose of haemotoxic venom,
attacking the victim's circulatory system, causing unchecked bleeding.
The snake then retreats and waits for the animal to die.
If you were a mouse,
you wouldn't last seconds with the red diamond rattlesnake.
'Well, that's one for the list
'and I reckon there's more rattlers to come.'
I don't believe it!
Wow, that is a very heavy-bodied snake.
'First was another, bigger red diamond rattler 100m away.'
Look how thick and heavy the body is.
Look at that. That's a big venomous snake.
'Two rattlesnakes in ten minutes! Surely it couldn't get any better?
'Well, yes, because it's after dark that rattlesnakes get active.'
Ooh! There's a completely different species of rattlesnake
just over here.
'It's a Baja rattler, unique to this region.'
Right. Stay there.
It's OK. It's OK, it's all right.
-Listen to that!
This place is absolutely crawling with rattlesnakes.
I don't believe it! Come round, guys.
'And then, to top off the best snake-hunting day I've ever had,
'a speckled rattlesnake.' Look at that tail going!
'So I've notched up three kinds of rattlesnake - the red diamond,
'the Baja and this speckled rattler in less than eight hours!'
Well, this has been one of the best snake-catching days of my life,
and there's no way I can leave here
without putting all of the rattlesnakes of the Baja Peninsula
onto my Deadly 60.
Right, off you go, fella.
With heat-seeking pits, it finds prey in complete darkness...
then it strikes in a split second...
..injecting a fatal dose of venom with its fangs.
Baja's rattlesnakes are all on the Deadly 60.
Baja, Mexico, has more than lived up to its lethal reputation
and I've had a blast!
Now this mission's going South, in search of equally deadly predators -
and potentially my most painful encounter yet -
in the rainforests Central America.
In Panama's remote jungle, we've set ourselves
and almost impossible task -
to try and find and film a giant aerial predator
that dominates the treetops - the harpy eagle.
It's first thing in the morning and we're heading into those hills
in search of our harpy eagle.
The guys here have said there's a nest two, three hours' walk away.
'And it's only thanks to their local knowledge
'that we've any chance of finding one.'
This is SO exciting.
Walking through the forest, knowing that, perhaps, two hours away,
is an encounter with a harpy eagle,
an animal which I've never seen and is one of the most special.
These extraordinary-looking birds are extremely rare.
It has talons the size of grizzly bear claws...
..and a two-metre wingspan.
The harpy is one of the heaviest
and one of the most powerful birds of prey in the whole world.
But more than that is the fact that they are so difficult to see.
I know people who've lived their lives in these forests
and never come across a harpy eagle.
This could be one of the greatest privileges of my whole life.
'If we ever find one.
'After hours slogging through the forests, our guide spots something.'
-He's pointing at something.
He's pointing up that way.
I think that's where the nest must be.
-Oh, my goodness!
This is her tree.
It's called a kapok tree.
Harpies always go for what's called an "emergent" tree.
That is one that bursts up above the canopy,
the tallest trees for miles around.
That is beautiful. She knows we're here.
Our job now is to find another tree here somewhere that we can climb
so we can film it.
'The plan is to use a lookout tree to get up
on the eagle's eye-level and hopefully see it in action.
'Our climbing expert, James, is going up first
and he's taking no chances.'
You'll notice that, in addition to all the normal climbing gear,
James is also wearing a stab vest
and one of these, very much like the things worn by riot police.
There aren't many animals on the Deadly 60, let alone birds,
that you have to wear this to get close to.
But it's all for good reason -
James has been attacked by a harpy eagle before and they're fearless.
This bird is a top predator and will take on large, tree-dwelling prey,
including coatis, sloths and monkeys.
'James has done his recce up high, but has he seen our eagle?'
Can't see the tree, let alone the nest.
-OK. That IS bad news.
'Time for Plan B.
'Next morning and we've found another tree,
'that will hopefully give us a better view of the eagle's nest.
'James is rigging the tree in preparation for a climb
'and I'm going up, too.'
'Fingers crossed, we actually see the bird this time.'
-Cor, dear. It's properly sweaty work, isn't it?
There's our eagle tree.
Just see the top of it
off in the distance out that way.
But she's too well hidden. I can't really see her.
This is proving to be incredibly tough.
They're very canny birds.
They choose spots where they can see their prey.
They've got a good view of monkeys and sloths, things they like to eat.
And moving they, themselves, are still quite well hidden.
'With time running out,
our only chance of seeing a harpy eagle now is from the ground.
We're throwing everything we have at this.
Can't come all this way and not see them. That would be a tragedy.
'Incredibly, our cameraman's zoom lens has picked out the nest.
'But it's empty.
'And we're about to give up, when...
'..a speckled wing flashes into shot...'
She is magnificent.
'..and then the crested head of this near-mythical creature.'
Well, it's cost us several bucket loads of sweat - each.
But finally, we've got our view of the harpy eagle,
something I honestly never thought I'd ever see.
The most powerful, one of the largest birds in the world.
And also one of the rarest.
People spend their lives in these forests and never get a glimpse.
There she is, stood up there in the nest..
I reckon this magnificent bird has got to go on the Deadly 60.
One of the world's largest eagles, with a two-metre wingspan...
and talons the size of grizzly bear claws.
The most powerful of all eagles.
The harpy eagle is going on my Deadly 60.
'This mission is almost over,
'but before I leave Central America,
'I promised you an encounter with an agony-inducing creature
'that makes me shudder just thinking about it!'
If you ask people who live here what animal they're most frightened of,
they won't say snakes or scorpions, they'll probably say
the tiny insects that are living in this tree.
It might surprise you to know
that they're ants.
I'll just see if I can get some to come out with my snake hook.
That's the entrance to their nest, just there.
And...look at that.
These...are bullet ants.
They're called bullet ants cos being stung by one
feels a bit like being shot.
They've got the most painful toxin, venom, of any insect.
It's a powerful neurotoxin,
intended to attack the central nervous system
of anything trying to mess with it.
I'm watching very carefully,
making sure they don't run up my trouser leg.
There was a guy called Schmidt
who tested the stings of insects to find out which are most painful.
And this one came out on top.
He described it as "a pure, intense, brilliant pain"
that was like "stepping your heel into a rusty nail".
I can confirm that the bullet ant is the most painful experience.
I've been stung by these many, many times.
A few years back, I took part in a ritual in the Amazon,
where I was stung by hundreds of bullet ants at the same time.
Within a short period of time,
I lost consciousness because of the pain.
Obviously, I lived to tell the tale,
but I do have a very healthy respect for these ants.
The bullet ant's incredible sting isn't really for overcoming prey.
They spend time hunting up in the canopy, down on the ground.
They use their powerful mandibles or jaws to overcome their insect prey.
The sting is used for getting rid of animals that hunt them.
The reason it's so painful is so that if something big
sticks its nose in the nest, it'll get stung, perhaps many times,
and think that it's in real danger because of the incredible pain
caused by the bullet ant's sting.
Now, I know that, if get stung again,
it's going to hurt a lot, but it's not dangerous.
I won't have an allergic reaction.
If I didn't know that, I wouldn't do what I'm about to try.
If you're ever anywhere where there are bullet ants, don't try this.
I'm going to get one of these little fellas...
"Little fellas"?! What am I talking about? The biggest ant in the world!
I'm going to see if I can get one of these ants to walk over my hand
without biting me.
-Are you nervous?
..I've now got the world's most painful stinging insect on my hand.
I am very nervous.
Although I've been stung by this before,
I can remember how badly it hurt.
If you look at it up close,
it really is one of the most awesome creatures.
I mean, an animal this size...
Look at it cleaning its antennae. Isn't that beautiful?
Running them through his mandibles.
Those are his primary sensory mechanisms as he's running along.
It is extraordinary that an animal of this size
has a sting that's powerful enough
to incapacitate an animal the size of me.
Think how many times bigger I am.
But one little sting is going to have me crying on the floor.
That has to be one of the miracles of Mother Nature.
And, as you can probably see, I'm shaking a bit.
I reckon, for that alone, the bullet ant has to go on the Deadly 60.
An animal this size...
..that can make a huge animal like me cry.
I didn't get stung!
The largest ant species in the world...
with a highly toxic sting...
take it from me, the most painful in the insect world.
The bullet ant is definitely worthy of a place on the Deadly 60.
'From on deadly end of Central America to the other,
'this has been a toxic tour.' Wow!
'I've narrowly avoided being stung by giant insects...
'and caught three species of rattlesnake in just one day!
'I've moved heaven and earth for a glimpse of a harpy eagle...
'and felt the full force...' Oh, crikey!
'..of a Humboldt squid.
'Join me next time for Deadly 60 On A Mission.'
He went out the hole! You, come back!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Steve is in Central America for another of his best ever missions. First, he takes to the water in search of a monster of the deep seas. It is so dangerous that he has to wear chain mail to stop it from ripping him to shreds, and be tethered to the boat in case it drags him down.
Back on dry land Steve goes searching for the biggest wasp in the world, before setting off for what turns out to be his best ever day of snake hunting. Then he heads out to Panama to track down one of the largest, and most impressive, birds of prey in the world: the harpy eagle. Finally, Steve faces his fears to handle some giant bullet ants, who possess the world's most painful insect bite.