[ music ]
THE WILDS OF PLANET EARTH ARE SPECTACULAR.
YET ONE SPECIES IS ALWAYS FRAMED OUT OF THE PICTURE:
I'M DR. M. SANJAYAN.
AS A SCIENTIST AND CONSERVATIONIST,
I'VE DEDICATED THE PAST 25 YEARS OF MY LIFE
TO STUDYING AND PROTECTING THE WILDLIFE I LOVE.
Hold on, buddy!
[ laughs ]
NOW MY MISSION IS TO TELL YOU AN UNTOLD STORY.
WHERE WE HUMANS ARE NOT SEPARATE FROM NATURE,
WE ARE PART OF IT.
[ elephant blares ]
THE OCEANS ARE EARTH'S LAST WILD FRONTIER.
BUT NOW THEY'RE THREATENED WITH A MANMADE INVASION.
BIG PREDATORS REVEAL CLUES TO AN INCREDIBLE PAST.
You cannot believe what I'm seeing.
AND UNDERSTANDING THEM COULD HELP US CREATE
SOLUTIONS FOR THE FUTURE.
WHERE BOTH OCEAN WILDLIFE AND HUMANS CAN THRIVE...
Baby's coming out.
There it comes.
There it is.
IN A NEW KIND OF WILD.
DR. SANJAYAN: THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ISOLATED ISLANDS
A HIDDEN ATOLL SMACK BANG IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACIFIC,
3,000 MILES FROM THE NEAREST CONTINENT.
[ birds chirping ]
IT'S SO REMOTE, IT SHOWS WHAT OUR OCEANS
WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE BEFORE WE CAME ALONG.
AS A SCIENTIST, THIS IS THE SORT OF PLACE
YOU DREAM OF STUDYING.
IT'S AN IDEAL REFUGE FOR MILLIONS OF LONG-RANGE FLYERS.
BUT I'VE COME HERE TO STUDY WHAT'S UNDERWATER.
SCIENTISTS ON PALMYRA HAD MADE A REVOLUTIONARY DISCOVERY
ABOUT HOW OUR OCEANS ONCE WORKED.
TO GET A GLIMPSE OF WHAT THEY DISCOVERED,
I DON'T EVEN NEED TO LEAVE THE SHALLOWS.
FIVES TIMES MORE THAN ON MOST REEFS.
AND WHEN SHARKS START TO CIRCLE YOU LIKE THIS,
IT CAN MEAN THEY'RE IN HUNTING MODE.
THEIR SHEER NUMBERS IS WHAT MAKES THIS PLACE SO SPECIAL.
THE ONLY SAFE WAY TO SEE THIS IS TO GET OUT OF THE WATER.
All I'm doing is waving this little tiny piece of fish in the water like that.
And just a little tiny smell and fish protein going in the water
gets that happening.
KYDD POLLOCK IS A MARINE SCIENTIST WHO USES
THIS VERY SIMPLE METHOD TO FIGURE OUT JUST HOW MANY SHARKS THERE ARE.
And they are now extending all the way back there.
Torpedo after torpedo after torpedo.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my God.
You cannot believe what I'm seeing.
There are dozens and dozens and dozens.
IN LESS THAN A MINUTE, WE'RE COMPLETELY SURROUNDED.
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
That shark went after the camera just now.
LOOKING AT THE MASS OF SHARKS, YOU QUESTION
HOW THERE CAN BE ENOUGH FISH TO FEED ALL THESE MOUTHS.
IT'S LIKE SEEING MORE LIONS THAN WILDEBEESTS ON THE AFRICAN PLAINS.
FOR ME AS A BIOLOGIST, THAT'S LIKE CHANGING THE RULES.
BUT IT TURNS OUT IN THE OCEAN,
THE FOOD CHAIN WORKS DIFFERENTLY.
PREDATORS DRIVE A FAST-BREEDING COG OF SMALLER FISH,
SMALLER FISH THAT REPRODUCE SO QUICKLY THAT IT ALLOWS
FOR A LARGER MASS OF PREDATORS THAN PREY.
It's a hungry ocean.
Just the sheer weight of all these sharks,
they have to eat.
So basically, all the little fish in the ocean
around here have to be reproducing fast
in order to feed all these hungry mouths.
Everything's being eaten.
So everything is forced to reproduce younger.
Grow faster, recruit faster.
And that's that machine that's just driving
this top-level weight of all these sharks.
WHAT'S BEEN DISCOVERED ON PALMYRA
TURNS THE TEXTBOOK UNDERSTANDING
OF THE PREDATOR-PREY SYSTEM ON ITS HEAD.
What's surprising to me about this place
is tt it's kind of like a topsy-turvy world.
Look, any place I've ever been to, the Serengeti
or the plains of Montana, you see predator-prey systems.
And they look like that classic triangle that you all know.
I mean, basically you've got loads and loads
of little things that eat grass.
And then you've got some predators
that keep things essentially in check.
When you come out here, what scientists are discovering
is this part of the pyramid is completely different.
It's more like this.
This completely changed our understanding
about how these oceans work.
Instead of a triangle, now you have something that looks more like this.
And these little guys now have to work much,
much harder and cycle through
and reproduce just about as fast as they can
in order to feed all those hungry mouths.
It's kind of like be or be eaten.
And everything out there looks hungry.
THIS IS HOW ALL OUR OCEANS WOULD HAVE ONCE FUNCTIONED
BEFORE HUMANS CAME ALONG.
SUPER-PRODUCTIVE, FAST-BREEDING ENGINES
OF LIFE DRIVEN BY PREDATORS.
SO IF ALL OUR OCEANS WERE ONCE LIKE THIS, WHAT CHANGED?
FINDING THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION IS WHAT THIS MAN HAS DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO.
HE KNOWS THAT BEFORE WE HUMANS WERE AROUND,
EVEN THIS FLORIDA DOCK WOULD HAVE BEEN JUST LIKE PALMYRA.
If you fell off this 100 years ago,
there would be a very high probability of a shark attack.
And there would have been 500 six-foot sharks
swimming around, swimming around.
That would not be a really cool place to jump into the water.
DR. JEREMY JACKSON IS CONSIDERED ONE OF
THE WORLD'S LEADING OCEAN SCIENTISTS.
HE HAS SPENT HIS LIFE ANALYZING DATA THAT REVEALS
THE FULL STORY OF OUR HUMAN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SEA.
OVER A COLD BEER, JACKSON TELLS ME THERE'S ONE FACTOR
THAT REALLY STANDS OUT IN EXPLAINING
WHAT CHANGED OUR OCEANS: OVER-FISHING.
AND TO CONVINCE ME, HE'S BROUGHT ALONG
AN UNUSUAL BIT OF EVIDENCE.
So these are a series of pictures that started out from the...
PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN RIGHT HERE IN FLORIDA ACROSS THE DECADES
SHOWING SPORTS FISHERMEN WITH THEIR CATCH.
BUT VERY DIFFERENT FISH.
I mean, there's just no way
that one can misinterpret what's happened here.
Which is that we've eaten all of these.
And then we've eaten all of these.
And now all we have left is these.
So these are just emblematic of a panoply
of gigantic creatures that used to live here.
So once upon a time, the oceans had monsters.
Today, it's down to shrimp.
Today it's down to shrimp and clams
and squid and whatever.
And that is what's going on in the ocean today.
TODAY WE TAKE MORE FISH FROM THE OCEAN EVERY YEAR
THAN THREE TIMES THE WEIGHT OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES.
JACKSON DUG DEEP INTO THE PAST
COMPILING ONE OF THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE RECORDS EVER
OF OUR HUMAN IMPACT ON THE OCEANS.
HE SPENT 40 YEARS MAPPING THE CHANGE FROM
A PRODUCTIVE PREDATOR-FILLED OCEAN LIKE PALMYRA
TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY.
AND PROJECTED THIS TIMELINE INTO THE FUTURE.
DR. JACKSON: THERE USED TO BE A LOT OF BIG ANIMALS.
WE ATE THEM.
THERE USED TO BE A LOT OF THREE-DIMENSIONAL STRUCTURE.
MANGROVES, KELP FORESTS, CORAL REEFS.
THEY'RE BEING LEVELED.
THERE USED TO BE VERY FEW BACTERIA AND STUFF IN THE WATER.
NOW THERE'S A MASSIVE CLOUD OF BACTERIA.
THAT IS WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE OCEAN TODAY.
THAT IS THE RISE OF SLIME.
DR. SANJAYAN: THIS SOBERING IDEA OF A RISE OF SLIME
IS NOT JUST ABOUT OVER-FISHING.
IT'S FUELED BY COASTAL DEVELOPMENT AND POLLUTION
AND EVEN CLIMATE CHANGE.
IT'S A PERFECT STORM.
I like to sometimes talk about the dead zonification of the global coastal ocean.
It's basically a reversal of 600 million years of evolution.
It's the taking over of the ocean by the bottom of the food chain.
And so what we get is the over-running
of the coastal ocean
by a pea soup of bacteria and other microbes.
And then that sets off an explosion of jellyfish
which are really the only things
that can eat these microbial plankton.
THIS RISE OF SLIME IS ALREADY STARTING TO TAKE HOLD.
AROUND THE WORLD, FISHERMEN ARE UNDER SIEGE.
INSTEAD OF SHARKS AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN,
THE TOP PREDATORS HERE ARE PRIMORDIAL BRAINLESS JELLYFISH.
A lot of the microbes in the rising slime will kill you.
DR. SANJAYAN: NOW, OUR ANNUAL CATCH OF JELLYFISH
IS APPROACHING HALF A MILLION TONS.
We get the explosions of everything we don't want.
What I like to call the rats and cockroaches
of the apocalypse.
DR. SANJAYAN: MAYBE THIS IS JACKSON'S APOCALYPSE
PLAYING OUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF US.
BUT I KNOW THERE ARE WAYS TO TACKLE EACH
AND EVERY ELEMENT THAT MAKE UP JACKSON'S PERFECT STORM.
You know, the guy's nickname is Dr. Doom.
But he's a really nice guy.
And he laughs when he's telling you
these most horrific things that are gonna happen to the ocean.
But the key word, I think, for me is the rise.
Slime hasn't fully risen yet.
Which means there's some hope.
There is some possibility that we could escape
that fate at least in some parts of the planet.
THE FIRST HURDLE TO OVERCOME IN AVERTING THE RISE OF SLIME
IS DEALING WITH OVER-FISHING.
AND THAT ALL STARTS WITH UNDERSTANDING IN DETAIL
WHAT THE FISH IN OUR OCEANS ARE DOING.
FOR SO LONG, THEY'VE BEEN OUT OF SIGHT
AND OUT OF MIND.
NOW NEW TECHNOLOGY HAS GIVEN US THE TOOLS
TO PROBE THEIR SECRETS
AND IT'S RESEARCH THAT STARTS IN A SURPRISING PLACE.
THIS TUNA FISHING BOAT IS HOMING IN ON ITS TARGET.
IT'S BEEN SAILING FOR WEEKS OFF THE COAST
OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA TO FIND IT.
THESE YELLOWFIN TUNA ARE CROSSING THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
SOME TUNA WILL TRAVEL 12,000 MILES IN A YEAR.
UNLIKE MOST FISH, THEY'RE WARM-BLOODED
WHICH ENABLES THEM TO GET MORE HEAT TO THEIR MUSCLE
AND GENERATE MORE POWER AND SPEED...
MAKING THEM ONE OF THE OCEAN'S TOP PREDATORS.
TODAY THERE JUST AREN'T THAT MANY POPULATIONS
OF MIGRATING TUNA LEFT ON EARTH.
THESE FISHERMEN ARE HEADING RIGHT INTO A HUGE SCORE.
[ bell ringing, shouting ]
YOU MIGHT THINK THIS IS THE TUNA'S LAST GASP.
BUT THIS IS JUST A BRIEF TRIP INTO OUR STRANGE HUMAN WORLD.
[ distorted voices ]
THESE TUNA AREN'T BEING KILLED
BUT FITTED WITH A TRACKING DEVICE...
AND THEN RELEASED TO CONTINUE THEIR MIGRATION.
We've been tagging fish everywhere from Indonesia, Philippines in the west.
Through to Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands in the east.
Since we started in 2006,
almost 400,000 fish have been tagged,
65,000 of which have been recaptured so far.
That's about 17%.
And, of course, more are still coming in.
[ speaking French ]
THIS TUNA TAGGING IS PART OF A GLOBAL EFFORT
TO UNDERSTAND THE MOVEMENT OF OCEAN PREDATORS.
SCIENTISTS HAVE TAGGED TENS OF THOUSANDS.
THEY'VE GATHERED 300,000 DAYS WORTH OF DATA, AND COUNTING.
INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS CAN NOW HAVE THEIR PROFILES FOLLOWED GLOBALLY.
IT'S LIKE A FACEBOOK FOR FISH.
THESE PREDATORS ALSO REVEAL WHERE THE OTHER FISH,
THEIR PREY, CONGREGATE.
ALL THIS DATA BUILDS A REMARKABLE LIVING MAP OF THE OCEAN
TO HELP US PINPOINT THE PARTS THAT MATTER MOST.
HIGHWAYS FOR HAMMERHEADS.
PIT STOPS FOR WHALES, WHERE THE KRILL SPAWN.
AND, OFF THE COAST OF COSTA RICA,
BREEDING AREAS FOR SNAPPER.
IN THE NORTH PACIFIC, A HIGHWAY OF LIFE
IS VISIBLE THAT SHIFTS AND MOVES ON AN ANNUAL CYCLE.
NOW WE KNOW THAT THESE OCEAN HOTSPOTS
ALSO MOVE WITH THE SEASONS.
I'M TRACKING DOWN ONE OF THESE HOTSPOTS
AS IT MOVES TOWARDS THE COASTLINE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
It's amazing what technology can now do.
I mean, I can sit here and see these tracks
of ocean predators in time and space.
There's one that just goes all the way halfway out to Hawaii,
and then comes right back.
Right back up here.
TODAY THE PREDATORS ARE FOLLOWING A WILDLIFE EVENT
THAT TRANSFORMS THIS COASTLINE.
PACIFIC HERRING ARE COMING HERE TO SPAWN
IN THEIR BILLIONS.
THESE SEA LIONS ARE FOLLOWING THEM.
SOME HAVE COME FROM AS FAR AWAY AS MEXICO.
Look at these guys.
They're half the size of this kayak.
And I'm picking up their wake.
That chop is from them
AND IT'S NOT JUST SEA LIONS.
AND HUMPBACK WHALES ARE ALSO DRAWN TO THIS BANQUET.
THE PREDATOR DATA WE HAVE ALLOWS US TO PINPOINT
THE EXACT TIME AND LOCATION OF SPAWNING HOTSPOTS LIKE THIS.
IF WE LEAVE THESE PLACES ALONE FOR JUST A FEW WEEKS
OF THE YEAR WHEN IT ALL KICKS OFF,
WE GIVE FISH STOCKS THE CHANCE TO RECOVER.
ENOUGH TO RESEED THE OCEAN
AND KEEP THE MULTIMILLION DOLLAR FISHERY
THAT WORKS THIS COASTLINE GOING FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.
REBUILDING THE DIVERSITY OF FISH STOCKS
IS A MAJOR STEP IF WE'RE TO FEND OFF
JEREMY JACKSON'S VISION OF SLIME.
BUT IT'S ONLY ONE STEP.
JACKSON ALSO HIGHLIGHTED HOW HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
AND POLLUTION FUEL THE PROBLEMS BY THREATENING
OUR MOST IMPORTANT COASTAL HABITATS.
LIKE THESE MANGROVES AROUND FLORIDA AND THE BAHAMAS
THAT PLAY A SURPRISING ROLE EVEN FOR DEEP OCEAN FISH.
THIS IS THE SETTING OF ONE OF
THE MOST ASTONISHING WILDLIFE EVENTS
I HAVE EVER BEEN PART OF.
LEMON SHARKS ARE COMING IN FROM THE DEEP.
THEY'RE HEADED RIGHT INTO THE SHALLOWS.
AND THEY'RE HERE TO GIVE BIRTH
WHERE THE GNARLY ROOTS OF THE MANGROVE FORESTS
WILL PROVIDE SOME PROTECTION FOR THEIR OFFSPRING.
THESE WATERS ONCE TEEMED WITH LEMON SHARKS.
BUT NOW THEY'RE AN INCREASINGLY RARE SIGHT.
BUT ONE SCIENTIST IS CONSUMED BY AN OBSESSION
WITH BRINGING THEM BACK.
Do you love sharks?
Well, I don't love all sharks.
I love pretty much lemon sharks.
[ laughs ]
That's called a sharkist.
DR. SAMUEL GRUBER, OR THE DOC, AS HE'S KNOWN,
IS THE WORLD'S LEADING EXPERT ON LEMON SHARKS.
OVER 50 YEARS, HE'S WATCHED AS THE OCEANS
HAVE EMPTIED OF THESE PREDATORS.
THE DOC WANTS TO MAKE SURE THE NEXT GENERATION HAS A FUTURE,
AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS TO GET HANDS ON WITH A PREGNANT SHARK.
HE'S STATIONED HIS RESEARCHERS
AROUND THE LAGOON TO INTERCEPT ANY FEMALES.
AS SOON AS THEY SPOT ONE, THEY MOVE IN.
AND THAT'S WHEN THE LAGOON BECOMES A MATERNITY WARD
AND THE DOC GETS CALLED IN AS THE MIDWIFE.
[ radio chatter ]
Things are about to get busy.
Dr. Gruber wanted in the delivery room.
Stop and go.
NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS TO BABY SHARKS AFTER THEY'RE BORN
AND THE DOC IS CARRYING OUT A STUDY
INTO THIS VULNERABLE STAGE IN THEIR LIFE CYCLE.
HIS PLAN IS TO GET HOLD OF TWO OR THREE PRECIOUS SHARK PUPS FROM THIS MOTHER
AND MOVE THEM TO A PART OF THE MANGROVE WHERE THEY WILL BE SAFE
AND WHERE HE CAN STUDY THEM.
Come on, guys!
Come on, think!
Babies are coming!
LIKE ANY MATERNITY WARD, THINGS GET CRAZY REALLY QUICKLY.
It's a gigantic shark.
She's just turning right now.
And Doc just jumped in the water with her.
He's basically got her by the tail.
Jesus, you guys are so [bleep] up!
And somewhere along here, I'm supposed to go in there with the shark.
BEING AROUND A NINE-FOOT PREDATOR
THAT'S GIVING BIRTH IS A LITTLE DODGY.
Come on, guys!
Get that shark!
I got it, I got it, I got it!
It's a humongous shark!
This seems familiar, this position.
Now let us walk very slowly forward.
UNDERNEATH THE SHARK, SCAVENGING REMORA FISH
ARE CONSTANT COMPANIONS.
I feel a baby.
You feel a baby?
I believe I do.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I feel a baby.
They're in there!
They're in there!
I felt it kick!
Now it's a matter of time.
Here we go, here we go, here we go.
Here they come!
Let's get ready for babies!
Dip nets and babies.
Don't look around!
Dip nets and babies!
I can feel it.
I can feel the baby kicking.
I can feel it kicking on my hand.
I know, I know, I know.
They're in there.
They're in there and she's gonna give birth imminently.
Here we go.
The tip of the tail is out.
Baby's coming out now.
Baby's coming out.
Here it comes.
There it is.
Oh, my God!
Damn you guys, damn it, take it!
Come on, guys!
Wake the [bleep] up!
[ shouting ]
Okay, get ready for more.
LEMON SHKS ONLY GIVE BIRTH TO A HANDFUL OF PUPS EVERY TWO YEARS.
IT'S ESTIMATED THAT ONLY HALF OF THOSE SURVIVE IN NATURAL CONDITIONS.
OFTEN TAKEN BY OTHER PREDATORS BEFORE THEY CAN MAKE IT
TO THE SAFETY OF THE MANGROVE ROOTS.
IT'S WHY THE STAKES ARE SO HIGH HERE.
It's gone out!
IT'S WHY YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO HOLES IN YOUR NET.
[ bleeping ]
I see it, I see it!
I see it right there.
Right there, right there!
Grab it, grab it!
Here comes another!
I got my hand on her tail.
There's a shark in here.
There it comes!
It's out right here.
I see it, I see it!
It came out.
Oh, there it is.
AFTER GIVING A HELPING HAND...
Natural birth, natural birth.
THE DOC LETS THE MOTHER BIRTH THE REMAINING PUPS ON HER OWN.
Let go of the shark.
Just step away from the shark.
I mean, it's kind of crazy.
But we just played midwife to a shark.
The baby came out about the length of a human baby
and as white as can be.
As white as the sandy bottom.
And the mom, I mean, you could just feel her pulse.
You could just feel her tick.
And just sort of her whole body would tense.
And that baby would squeeze out.
THE PUPS ARE TAKEN TO THE MANGROVE STUDY SITE NEARBY.
AND, UNORTHODOX AS EVER, THE DOC FOLLOWS.
HERE THE DOC AND HIS TEAM CAN WATCH
HOW THESE JUVENILES DEVELOP
DURING THIS VULNERABLE STAGE IN THEIR LIVES.
Oh my God, just born.
So this could be her home for the next three or four years.
And then a little bit deeper.
And a little bit deeper.
Then she becomes a big shark in about 12 years, mates.
And then hopefully comes back here.
Comes back exactly where she was born to give birth.
BY MONITORING YOUNG SHARKS OVER THE YEARS,
THE DOC HAS DISCOVERED THEY IMPRINT ON THE MANGROVES
FROM THE DAY THEY'RE BORN.
THIS, THEN, IS THE EXACT LOCATION THIS YOUNG FEMALE
WILL COME BACK TO TO GIVE BIRTH TO HER OWN PUPS.
IF THESE MANGROVES ARE GONE, THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM.
THERE REALLY IS HERE OR NOWHERE.
THESE BABY SHARKS THAT DEPEND ON THE MANGROVES
ALSO HELP THE MANGROVE ECOSYSTEM IN RETURN.
THEY'RE MINIATURE PREDATORS DOING THE SAME JOB
AS THEIR PARENTS IN THE DEEP OCEAN.
THEY DRIVE A PRODUCTIVE FOOD CHAIN
FEEDING ON A VAST NUMBER OF OTHER ANIMALS
THAT ALSO USE THE MANGROVES AS A NURSERY GROUND
BEFORE THEY TOO CAN HEAD FOR THE DEEP.
MANGROVES LIKE THESE MAKE UP MILLIONS OF ACRES OF OUR COASTLINE,
ENOUGH TO WRAP AROUND THE PLANET TWICE.
THESE PLACES NURTURE OCEAN LIFE.
IT'S WHY HUMAN IMPACT ON COASTLINES
IS ANOTHER FUNDAMENTAL PART OF WHAT CAUSES
JEREMY JACKSON'S RISE OF SLIME.
THESE BIZARRE-LOOKING CREATURES HELP SUPPORT
ARGUABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT COASTAL ENVIRONMENT OF ALL.
CORAL REEFS MAKE UP LESS THAN 1% OF THE OCEAN,
BUT SUPPORT A QUARTER OF ALL MARINE LIFE.
THEY ARE THE RAINFORESTS OF OUR SEAS.
AND THE BUMP-HEADED PARROT FISH
ARE THE GARDENERS OF THESE REEFS.
THEY PRUNE THE CORAL WITH THEIR BEAKS
AND CLEAN THEM OF ALGAE.
THEN THEY DEFECATE, FERTILIZING THE WHOLE REEF.
THIS GARDENING TURNS OUT TO BE EVEN MORE CRUCIAL
TO CORAL SURVIVAL THAN WE FIRST THOUGHT.
ALONGSIDE OVER-FISHING AND DAMAGE TO THE COASTLINES,
THE RISE OF SLIME IS ALSO FUELED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.
IF THE OCEAN IS JUST A SINGLE DEGREE WARMER,
CORALS START TO BLEACH.
BUT BLEACHED CORAL IS NOT ALWAYS DEAD.
IT JUST HAS A DAMAGED IMMUNE SYSTEM
THAT LEAVES IT SUSCEPTIBLE TO INVADING ALGAE THAT SMOTHER THEM
AND BLOCK OUT THE SUNLIGHT, PREVENTING THEIR RECOVERY.
WITH PARROT FISH CLEANING THE CORAL,
ALGAE CAN BE KEPT IN CHECK
AND REEFS CAN RECOVER.
AND WHILE THE BUMP-HEAD MAY BE ONE OF
THE BIGGEST GRAZERS ON THE REEF, THEY'RE NOT ALONE.
THEY'RE FLANKED BY A WIDE RANGE OF OTHERS
EACH FIGHTING FOR THEIR OWN PATCH OF GRAZING.
THE LESSON HERE IS THAT REEFS CAN ONLY SURVIVE
WITH A WIDE RANGE OF GRAZING FISH.
AND IF WE CAN KEEP THESE SYSTEMS WORKING,
THEN THERE'S EVEN BETTER NEWS.
CORAL HAS A REMARKABLE WAY TO COPE WITH A WARMING OCEAN.
AND AT NIGHT, YOU CAN SEE JUST HOW THEY'RE DOING IT.
When you shine an ultraviolet light on them, they fluoresce.
And they fluoresce in the most unbelievable way.
I mean, it looks like a little mini discotheque out here.
I mean, just take a look at this.
BY USING ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, WE CAN NOW REVEAL
THE CORAL'S IN-BUILT DEFENSES
TO CHANGES IN OCEAN TEMPERATURE.
SCIENTISTS STUDYING REEFS HAVE FOUND THAT THOSE
WITH MORE FLUORESCENT CORAL
WILL COPE BETTER WITH RISING SEA TEMPERATURES.
IN WARMER WATERS, THE EFFECTS OF SUNLIGHT
BECOME EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR CORALS.
BUT THE FLUORESCENT CELLS ABSORB DANGEROUS
ULTRAVIOLET RAYS, ACTING AS A SUNSCREEN.
BASICALLY, THE MORE PSYCHEDELIC THE SHOW,
THE BETTER FOR THE CORAL.
AND FOR A WHOLE LOT OF OTHER ANIMALS THAT MAKE IT HOME.
WE CAN NOW USE THIS NEW UNDERSTANDING OF CORALS'
SECRET RESILIENCE TO BRING THEM BACK
EVEN WHEN THEY'VE COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED.
HERE IN FLORIDA, REEFS HAVE BEEN SUFFERING
FROM THE EFFECTS OF A WARMER OCEAN.
BUT NOW WE CAN USE OUR KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT MAKES
A HEALTHY, RESILIENT CORAL AND APPLY IT.
EVEN TRY AND GROW A CORAL REEF FROM SCRATCH.
OF COURSE, ON A GLOBAL SCALE,
THIS MAY BE A SMALL EXPERIMENT.
BUT IT'S STILL POSSIBLY THE BIGGEST MANMADE CORAL GARDEN ON EARTH.
THE SCIENTISTS USE THEIR NEW UNDERSTANDING
OF WHICH CORALS ARE MOST RESILIENT
TO SELECT CUTTINGS FROM HEALTHY REEFS TO TRY
TO ENGINEER A MORE ROBUST ECOSYSTEM.
THEY'VE LEARNED FROM THE FISH HOW TO GARDEN CORAL,
WORKING ALONGSIDE THE GRAZERS TO KEEP THE CORAL CLEAR OF ALGAE.
IT MAY BE A PARTLY ARTIFICIAL MANMADE ECOSYSTEM,
BUT IT HAS ALL THE RIGHT SPECIES DOING THE RIGHT JOB.
AND NOW WE CAN COUNT OURSELVES AMONGST THEM.
THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT JEREMY JACKSON'S APOCALYPSE
STILL LOOMS LARGE.
OVER-FISHING, DAMAGED COASTLINES AND CLIMATE CHANGE.
THOSE ARE THE BIG FACTORS FOR HIM
AND THEY HAVEN'T DISAPPEARED.
BUT EVEN JACKSON KNOWS THAT THE OCEANS CAN STILL BE HEALTHY
ALTHOUGH IT DOES MEAN ACCEPTING THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE WAY THEY ONCE WERE.
The way it all works is it used to be good, whatever that meant.
And now we're out here someplace
and over here is the apocalypse.
Forget it, end of story.
We know we don't want to go there.
We've finally woken up to the fact that this is not a good thing.
We are nostalgic about this...
But we're not going to get back to here, are we?
We will never get there.
Maybe we'll end up here.
Or we'll end up around here.
But it won't be the way it was here.
But it'll be a hell of a lot better than there or there.
And if I can have a totally artificial ecosystem
which has a significant component of the species
that do different jobs, well, then that's great.
And I'd be happy with that.
Is that the reality of nature or wilderness in a world
with seven to nine billion people?
SO WHERE IS THIS ALL LEADING US?
IN MEXICO'S SEA OF CORTEZ,
THEY'RE TAKING THIS IDEA OF ARTIFICIAL ECOSYSTEMS
AND ENGINEERING THE WILD TO TRY TO SOLVE THE BIG PROBLEMS.
Pretty nice going to work every day.
HERE, THEY'RE FARMING FISH,
AND NORMALLY THAT CAN BE A PRETTY UNAPPEALING WAY TO GO.
Most of the time, it pollutes bays and estuaries.
If you do it on land, you got to deal with this enormous amount of waste.
And it's a bit of a dark art.
But these guys say that what they're doing here is really different.
AND WHEN I GET ON-SITE, I START TO SEE WHAT THEY MEAN.
UNDERWATER, YOU CAN JUST MAKE OUT THE EDGE OF A GIANT SPHERE.
I mean, this I gotta see.
AND THESE SCIENTISTS FROM EARTH OCEAN FARMS
TELL ME THAT IT'S PART OF THEIR FUTURISTIC PLAN TO KEEP OUR PLANET FED.
UNDERWATER, IT'S INDUSTRIAL.
THERE ARE STRUCTURES AND PEOPLE EVERYWHERE...
ALTHOUGH IT'S NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT APPEARS OUT OF THE GLOOM.
A COLOSSAL GEODESIC SPHERE
MEASURING NEARLY 100 FEET ACROSS
FLOATING LIKE A PLANET IN THE DEEP WATER.
A PLANET WITH A FRONT DOOR.
INSIDE, SUDDENLY THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN WILD NATURE
AND THIS CAPTIVE ENCLOSURE SEEMS TO DISAPPEAR.
BEING OUT HERE IN THE DEEP OCEAN IS WHAT MAKES THIS FORM
OF FARMING MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THE OLD IN-SHORE METHODS.
THE IDEA IS THAT POWERFUL OCEAN CURRENTS
FLUSH THROUGH THE CAGES, WASHING AWAY WASTE
AND PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF PARASITES
THAT PLAGUE THE OLD STYLE FISH FARMS.
THE FISH HERE ALSO HAVE TO SWIM HARDER,
WHICH KEEPS THEM HEALTHIER
AND THESE TOTOABA CAN GROW UP TO SIX FEET
AND OVER 200 POUNDS.
IF WE CAN USE METHODS LIKE THESE TO EASE THE PRESSURE
ON WILD STOCKS AND PROTECT NATURAL BREEDING HOTSPOTS,
INCREDIBLE REGENERATION CAN HAPPEN.
THIS IS TRULY A VISION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
BUT THIS MODERN FARMING STILL FACES A CHALLENGE
BECAUSE THE FOOD FOR THESE FISH IS DERIVED FROM OTHER FISH.
EVERY DAY, THEY'RE WORKING TO MAKE THE FEEDS MORE SUSTAINABLE.
AND WHILE IT STILL MIGHT NOT BE PERFECT,
WE NEED TO GET IT RIGHT
BECAUSE OF ONE SIMPLE FACT:
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY,
WE NOW EAT MORE FARMED FISH THAN WE DO WILD FISH.
THAT'S AS BIG A SHIFT AS WHEN WE MOVED
FROM HUNTER-GATHERERS ON LAND
TO A SETTLED AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY,
SOMETHING THAT CHANGED THE FACE OF THE PLANET.
OUR INTERVENTION IN THE OCEANS IS ONLY INCREASING.
It makes you realize that this veneer
between what we control and what's wild nature,
it's sort of disappearing in some ways.
And if the wild stocks can recover
and we can supplement it with this, then we're in a good place.
ENGINEERING LIKE THIS HELPS RELIEVE THE PRESSURE
WE PUT ON THE WILD FISH STOCKS,
ALLOWING US TO USE OUR NEW UNDERSTANDING
TO HELP THE OCEAN TO REPLENISH ITSELF.
AND THAT APPLIES RIGHT ON OUR DOORSTEPS, TOO.
HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, THERE IS A REMARKABLE ENGINEERING PROJECT
THAT USES NATURE TO PUSH BACK THE RISE OF SLIME.
THIS NEIGHBORHOOD HAS HAD JEREMY JACKSON'S WHOLE PACKAGE:
MASSIVE COASTAL DEVELOPMENT AND POLLUTION.
Do you worry about walking in this water?
Well, one of the issues that we have in the harbor
is CSO which is combined sewage overflow.
So when it rains often in New York...
It's like the toilet overflowing?
It's like the toilet overflowing
and the water comes in the harbor.
So we have...
So New York's toilet basically overflows into this water.
Look around you.
That you're now trying to restore.
KATE ORFF IS AN ARCHITECT WHO HAS TAKEN HER DESIGN INSPIRATIONS FROM NATURE
AND COME UP WITH A PLAN TO LET THE OCEAN RECLAIM
THIS INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE.
ANIMALS AND PLANTS TAKE HOLD WHEREVER YOU LET THEM TAKE HOLD.
If you look on these piers, you can see all these blue mussels here.
Yeah, you're right.
Yeah, all along here.
Look at that.
KATE WANTS TO BRING BACK AN ANIMAL
THAT ONCE FED THIS ENTIRE CITY.
ONE THAT'S JUST STARTING TO CREEP BACK IN.
I think that looks like an oyster.
That's a live oyster, isn't it?
That's it, that's it.
I've eaten many, many, many oysters in my life.
[ laughs ]
Let's not eat this one.
KATE HAS FOUND THAT THE ROUGH TEXTURE
OF THIS BROKEN LANDSCAPE CAN BE A PERFECT MIMIC
FOR A NATURAL SHORELINE.
IT PROVIDES IDEAL FOUNDATIONS FOR OYSTERS
AND OTHER FILTER FEEDERS TO TAKE HOLD.
THEY REMOVE EXCESS NITROGEN FROM POLLUTANTS
THAT THE BACTERIA IN THE RISE OF SLIME THRIVE ON.
INCREDIBLY, A SINGLE OYSTER CAN FILTER
AND CLEAN UP TO 50 GALLONS OF POLLUTED WATER A DAY.
AND BEFORE THIS BAY WAS DREDGED
TO MAKE WAY FOR A GROWING CITY,
MILLIONS OF OYSTERS USED TO PURIFY THE WATER ACROSS THIS ENTIRE HARBOR.
Back in the day, when oysters covered
almost 25% of the New York harbor,
all the harbor water could be filtered within one week's time.
So all that water you see out there...
Churned through the stomach of an oyster.
Every week, right.
BUT OYSTERS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING.
AS THE WATER CLEARS, MORE DIVERSE LIFE CAN MOVE IN.
ANIMALS THAT ARE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A HEALTHY OCEAN
AND THE ANTIDOTE TO THE RISE OF SLIME.
SUDDENLY, A WASTELAND BECOMES A WILD AND VIBRANT NEIGHBORHOOD
WHERE MIGRANTS CAN FIND REFUGE.
OLD RESIDENTS LIKE THESE BLUE CRAB DEFEND BURROWS...
AND COURTING COUPLES DANCE.
SOMETIMES FOR EIGHT HOURS A DAY.
[ laughs ]
He likes that.
He's wagging his tail.
Oh, there we go.
EVEN HORSESHOE CRABS CAN COME HERE TO MATE.
It is sort of odd.
I mean, this is about as modern a city as you're gonna get.
And then there's this thing right out of the Jurassic almost.
I mean, it just crawled its way up here.
If there was a wall here, this wouldn't be happening
because they need to kind of crawl up off the sand
in a very shallow gradient.
So it's really exciting because these landscapes
are the ones that are coming back.
I think that's the future.
You have people, you have animals.
But with design, with a little bit of design,
with a little bit of engineering, we can coexist.
KATE, WORKING WITH OTHERS, HAS CONVINCED
THE CITY AUTHORITIES TO LEAVE THESE BROKEN DOWN LANDSCAPES
TO BE RECLAIMED BY NATURE.
AND NOW EVEN BIG BUSINESS IS PUTTING UP MONEY
TO BRING THE OYSTERS BACK.
KATE'S ALSO DRAWN UP BLUEPRINTS
FOR VAST UNDERWATER STRUCTURES THAT WILL GIVE OYSTERS
A FOOTHOLD TO RECOLONIZE MANHATTAN.
SEVEN AND A HALF MILLION HAVE ALREADY BEEN CULTIVATED.
AND WHEN YOU CONSIDER A SINGLE OYSTER
CAN PRODUCE 25 MILLION EGGS,
THEN BILLIONS OF THEM CAN BE JUST AROUND THE CORNER.
THEY CAN PURIFY THE HARBOR, BRING BACK MARINE LIFE.
IF WE CAN FIGHT BACK THE RISE OF SLIME HERE,
THEN YOU REALLY DO GET THIS FEELING THAT WE CAN CHANGE
THE FUTURE OF OUR OCEANS
AND OUR ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WILD FOR THE BETTER.
IT'S ALL PART OF A VISION
I'VE SEEN EMERGING ACROSS THIS ENTIRE PLANET.
A NATURAL WORLD TENDED BY US
BUT THAT ALSO SUPPORTS US.
A PLACE WHERE WE CAN SHARE OUR HOMES
AND EVEN OUR CITIES WITH THE WILD.
THIS IS HUMANS NOT SEPARATE FROM NATURE,
BUT PART OF IT.
WHERE SCIENCE HELPS US DESIGN INGENIOUS SOLUTIONS.
WE CAN LIVE, ADAPT,
BRING NATURE BACK INTO OUR WORLD.
AND EVEN THRIVE SIDE BY SIDE WITH OUR WILD NEIGHBORS.
AND WHEN WE DO, IT MAKES OUR LIVES BETTER.
Are you seeing this?
THIS IS THE EARTH'S NEW WILD.
Next time on Earth A New Wild :
The most precious resource on Earth.
If we take too much, it can result in a catastrophe.
I'm just hot, man.
I'm gonna collapse.
But now, a fresh perspective on sharing water with wildlife...
...is actually beginning to
save human lives.
Announcer: TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PROGRAM,
EARTH: A NEW WILD IS AVAILABLE
ON BLU-RAY AND D.V.D.
TO ORDER, VISIT SHOPPBS.ORG
OR CALL 1-800-PLAY-PBS.