The Great Barrier Reef, a three-part series on BBC2, explores the depths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A natural wonder of the world, Monty Halls shows how intricate the workings of the underwater world are, and highlights dangers to the reef and its abundant marine life.
Hosted by Monty Halls, the documentary shows how life has adapted from underwater to survive on land and also how the reef provides food, shelter, and breeding purposes for all kinds of animals from fish to birds.
The intricacies of the reef are little understood as it is a changing landscape. The reef suffers upheaval twice a day in some parts with the tide movement, and it has adapted to cope with this efficiently.
For many people, diving down to the reef is a once in a life time experience, Monty explains that the reef spans for over 2,000 kilometres and 160 kilometres off shore. The production team, based in Cairns, Northern Queensland, spent weeks at sea to film never before filmed locations.
The team also filmed using remote camera equipment to film life without it being bothered by divers, and captured intimate moments of life in its natural habitat.
The production team spent a total of 600 hours underwater with regular SCUBA and specialist diving equipment to remain at depth for longer. Specialised Remote Operated Vehicles (R.O.V’s) were used to film depths that are unreachable without a submarine.
The drop-off area of the reef saw lemon sharks hunting close to the reef and shallow waters. The sharks used the reef to find an easy catch, helped along by predatory Trevally fish.
Many other fish use the reef too in ways so extraordinary, it is almost hard to understand a fish could do that. For example, a white damsel fish cultivates its own algae garden on the seafloor. Even though it’s only a small fish, it tries to chase away Monty as he swims near it, in a bid to protect it’s very own allotment. Footage of this can be seen here.
The documentary shows life on land, in water and in the sky. It covers every angle of the reef and it’s wildlife and Monty Halls explains in depth the different species that call The Great Barrier Reef home.
Monty explores the habitat of a spotted Lizard, a Goanna, qhich is mentioned in Episode 2. ‘Reef to Rainforest’ which has successfully adapted to hunt on land and in the water. It is one of the only amphibians in the world that can do this and it’s high alert status when hunting, means no prey can escape its forked tongue. More information about the Goanna can be found here.
The most magical part of The Great Barrier Reef has to be the breeding ground of Raine Island, which accommodates up to 26,000 female Green Turtles in one night as they lay their eggs. The Green turtles are not adapted for life on land, and their heavy bodies make the process of finding a suitable nesting site very difficult, but the cover of night ensures their safety.
Monty Halls witnesses the whole process, from the turtles arriving, laying eggs, and them leaving. He even managed to get sand flicked in his face by a digging turtle.