Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Planet Earth III

It is always a momentous occasion when a new landmark Attenborough series airs on BBC One, especially one following in the footsteps of Planet Earth II. It was during the beginning year or two of my PhD when I heard about the announcement of Planet Earth III, as the researchers were looking for scientists and researchers to help them film more amazing sequences that had never been captured before. From what I know, the series has been at least five years in the making, but I can only assume it has been much more than that. Planet Earth III once again captivates its audience not only with its breathtaking cinematography and immersive storytelling, but also through providing an accurate record of the natural world. I have been saying for years now that nature documentaries focus too much on false jeopardy and trying to paint the natural world as an intact Eden. Unfortunately, we know that isn’t the case. However, Planet Earth III doesn’t pull any punches and makes this blindingly clear, especially in the final episode of the series.

There are seven episodes in this series, with a bigger focus on climate change, anthropogenic disturbance, and how this is impacting those species most at risk. I am glad that these messages are finally being delivered to the public, I only wish they had come sooner. I know they have angered some people such as Jeremy Clarkson, but if you don’t make people angry at the actions of our own species, they will never push for change. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as there series also highlights nature’s resilience in the face of these threats – although that balance is uneven in some places as Planet Earth III explores. Some of the survival strategies that some of the most adaptable species have relied on for generations are no longer enough to ensure their long-term survival. In my mind it is distressing to think how rapidly the natural world has changed throughout the lifetime and career of Sir David Attenborough.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of amphibian and reptile sequences throughout Planet Earth III. This starts with the explosive breeding of tree frogs in the Amazon in the first episode, and carries on throughout the rest of the series. My favourite sequence however is that of common frogs emerging from hibernation beneath the ice in the French Alps, and racing to a breeding pool to err…breed. I knew they were resilient to cold temperatures but those brilliantly shot frames prove it! The narration serves as a guiding force, weaving together the stories of various species and ecosystems into a cohesive and compelling narrative which is reinforced by the stunning visuals – which seem to get ever better with every passing Attenborough series.

I thoroughly recommend Planet Earth III to anyone that has a interest or passion in the natural world, the series also acts as a powerful tool for raising awareness about the importance of conserving our planet’s biodiversity to those that aren’t as engaged as myself.

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