Whale Nursery (03:46)
In July, humpbacks journey to the Great Barrier Reef to escape Antarctic winter. Calves gain weight before returning to the Southern Ocean. The population was hunted to near extinction in the 1960s; conservation efforts have increased numbers.
Osprey Reef (04:14)
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest on Earth, providing a habitat for thousands of species. Nearly two million tourists visit annually. Dive instructor Paddy Colwell explores a remote deep water reef located on an extinct volcano.
Coral Habitat (01:57)
Coral require a hard surface and clear, nutrient-poor salt water to grow. The invertebrates attach themselves, consume algae, and grow skeletons to form the reef structure. Sponges create caves that help regulate water temperature.
Living on the Reef (04:07)
The Great Barrier Reef began forming about 8,000 years ago. Rising sea levels flooded the continental fringe and created islands. Indigenous Australians evolved food sources and culture with the reef; Simon Naawi hunts crayfish for his family.
Cuttlefish change color for camouflage and use their pectoral fins or siphon to move. After laying eggs, a female is hunted by a larger fish. Colwell encounters a trigger fish, a species known for attacking humans.
Lizard Island Research Station (02:25)
Biologist Julius Piercy studies reef sounds; hear clown fish, tide fish, clams, whales and sea horses. Fish vocalize at dawn and dusk.
Researching Coral Reef Communication (04:21)
Percy traps juvenile fish to study how they find their way back from the open ocean; sound travels better underwater. Upon arrival, they face a wall of predators.
Emergency on the Great Barrier Reef (03:21)
Rescue pilots respond to a mayday call; a yacht is on fire. A nearby container ship picks up passengers and crew from life rafts. The sunken vessel presents an environmental threat.
Challenges of Salvaging a Vessel (03:51)
A sunken yacht presents an environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Divers can only spend 90 minutes on the bottom each day; dangers include electrocution, entrapment, sharks and crocodiles. They must cut the boat into six 30 ton pieces.
Raine Island (04:46)
Conservationists and biologists survey the world's largest green sea turtle rookery. Mark Read discusses the harsh and beautiful environment. Pregnant females return to the beach they were born on to lay their eggs.
Green Sea Turtle Nesting Habits (03:47)
Biologists tag females laying their eggs on the beach; some have been coming to Raine Island for 30 years. Conservationists hope to maintain the population amid changing environmental conditions.
Shark Feed (05:44)
Colwell prepares tourists to dive with large sharks on Osprey Reef. Watch as they fight over tuna heads. Overfishing has declined shark numbers, but they are protected on Osprey.
Conservation Management (04:19)
Read flips a green sea turtle to help it return to the ocean. Scientists have intervened to improve ecosystem resilience. They count painted turtles and spot a tiger shark that has come to feed on the exhausted females.
Marine Sanctuary (01:42)
The Great Barrier Reef provides a marine habitat safe from humans.
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 1 (01:31)
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 1
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