Summer Feeding Frenzy (02:50)
During summer rains, runoff pumps nutrients into the reef ecosystem. Baitfish schools feed on plankton and predators converge; witness sailfish work in teams to hunt baitfish. Seabirds hope their chicks will fly before a storm.
Raine Island (03:43)
Researchers battle heat to check nesting on a seabird sanctuary. They believe overfishing of predators is stopping school fish from being pushed to the surface, decreasing food sources. Frigates steal fish from a blue-footed booby.
Night Vision Experiment (04:40)
Dive instructor Paddy Colwell dives using blue lights to see the reef from a fish's perspective. Some coral species emit fluorescent light to attract prey. View several unusual marine species.
Storm Brewing (05:44)
As a tropical gale gathers strength, professional fish collector Tim Bennett continues diving to capture a thorny ray for a public aquarium. His son Kyle gathers anthias and a wave smashes his boat against the reef; they decide to return to port.
Cyclone Ita (03:15)
Seabirds and sharks flee, and Cooktown residents brace for the category 5 storm. Boat owner Oscar Oberhauser seeks refuge in mangroves; rainforest species inland sense the approaching disaster.
Category 5 Storm (05:26)
Cooktown locals move into emergency shelters ahead of Cyclone Ita. The next morning, they survey the damage. A pub owner shelters in the beer fridge and loses his roof.
Coral Reef Damage (02:28)
Oberhauser's boat survives Cyclone Ita moored in the mangroves. Researchers record destruction on Lizard Island against baseline data. Storms have accounted for 48% of coral cover decline; climate change will continue increasing storm intensity.
Great Barrier Reef Livelihood (03:04)
After Cyclone Ita, commercial fisherman Glenn Murray and his son Ben look for threadfin salmon and crab. They discuss the importance of environmental stewardship for their survival.
Navigating the Great Barrier Reef (03:47)
The number of cargo ships transporting coal from Australia will double in 20 years. A Port Townsville control room monitors them to prevent environmental disasters. Ships over 70 meters require local captains called reef pilots; learn about a 2010 oil spill.
Illegal Fishing (04:03)
Laws enforce sustainable fishing on the Great Barrier Reef. Near Cape York, authorities pursue vessels operating within green conservation zones. Despite heavy fines, poaching continues.
Raine Island Green Sea Turtles (01:57)
Rising sea levels are flooding nests on the protected island. Andy Dunston and Mark Reid research how to conserve the rookery. They dig a trench to trap and count hatchlings leaving the beach.
Endangered Green Sea Turtle Rookery (06:53)
Thousands of hatchlings dodge ghost crabs as they race toward the water. Only 5% of eggs are producing hatchlings. Those that survive to adulthood will return to Raine Island in thirty years—if rising sea levels do not inundate their nesting grounds.
Dwarf Minke Whales (05:23)
Dive operator John Romney takes passengers to the Ribbon Reefs in search of baleen whales migrating 4,000 miles from the Southern Ocean. Tourists fund researchers; participants become advocates of protecting and conserving the Great Barrier Reef.
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 3 (01:31)
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 3
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