BBC…Africa. Something very fishy is going on

24 Jan

The cinematography of this week’s episode of Africa was as usual peerless, the stories informative and thought-provoking all in all a masterclass in how to make great and timeless TV.

It reminded us that there is so much we have learnt and seen about nature from the comfort of our living room sofas, but there is still an incredible amount we don’t know.

Like the mysterious journey of giant King Fishes. These enormous fishes which grow to the size of a  man, journey from the oceans around the South African cape and travel deep inland swimming upstream along the fresh water rivers to they reach a point where they stop.

The stop not to feed, not to spawn but seemingly to swim around in a form of synchronised swimming. Why? No one knows.

They are best known as a national symbol of South Africa and we were treated to beautiful shots of  springboks ‘pronking’. This is something springboks are famous for, but why they do it? Again no one knows.  Against a beautiful backdrop of classic music the ‘pronking’ was soothingly balletic.

We also returned to a recurrent theme of the series – the circle of life. A reminder that for all it’s beauty nature is harsh and for some to thrive others must perish.

We saw baby turtles making a dash from where they hatched across beach for the ocean. In scenes that were reminiscent of the Normandy landings in Saving Private Ryan (except it was in the reverse direction), the turtles were subject to aerial bombardment from hawks and other birds who fancied a light snack. There also hazards on the ground as treacherous crabs lurked.

The chances of survival for the hatchlings was something like 1 in 1000, so I was intrigued how the filming was able to pick out one hatchling and follow it from birth as it successfully navigated the hazards of the beach and made it to the safety of the ocean. Was that just luck?

Off the coast of the South Africa cape where the warm waters of the Indian ocean’s Aghulas current meet the cold waters of the Atlantic oceans Benguela current we meet another chapter in the circle of life.  Thousands of sardines are being chased through the Benguela current by a school of dolphins and a nabulus whale. Despite their massed numbers the sardines and nimble and proving difficult to catch. That is until they hit the warmer Aghulas current, suddenly they froze, it is not explained why.

What ever the reason it result  is fatal for the sardines, as an incredible feeding frenzy ensues. Dolphins and the whale swooped from within, birds attack from above, it is a free for all feeding frenzy.

After a somewhat underwhelming episode last week, Africa was back to its best.


Springboks ‘pronking’ to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers

2 Responses to “BBC…Africa. Something very fishy is going on”

  1. Belinda January 24, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    Africa – was brilliant and I really wondered about the King Fish, loved the Springboks, gasped at how beautiful the flowers where and the Monkey Beetles love life – and the idea of sleeping within the daisy’s petals – the feeding frenzy of the sardines was breathtaking. I don’t usually watch wildlife programs but this projected me into another world!

  2. CBB Blog January 24, 2013 at 8:03 am #


    A lot of people are saying the same thing about this series. People who don’t normally watch nature programmes have been captivated by it.

    From the fighting giraffes to the demise of the baby Elephant, Africa has had so many water cooler moments.

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