The Secrets of Antarctica | Full Documentary | TRACKS

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Antarctica unbelievable unbearable and now a 50-day sea expedition attempts to crack its mystery uncovering the improbable creatures that somehow thrive at this merciless alien edge of our planet [Music] day one the government research vessel Tongarewa embarks from Wellington New Zealand on a precarious fifty day six million dollar mission destination Antarctica a voyage of potential discovery and definite danger just getting to the Ross Sea will tax the ship and crew navigating the mighty southern ocean and 460 kilometers of crushing sea ice [Music] in this international polar year Tangaroa will join 17 other ships and a top-to-bottom census of Antarctic marine life an Andrew Leachman is its captain the telephone directory of everything that's down there because he's never really been done but satellite charts show the worst icing condition in years even with tongueless 70 meter long reinforced Hall this could be a mission impossible though we can hardly wait to get his hands on the strange scaly creatures from the seafloor marine biologist Andrew Stewart knows it'll be no dip in the ocean the ocean is a very difficult environment to study down here in the Southern Ocean everything is that much harder you've got to kit up like the Michelin Man to get out on deck everything takes so much more effort whatever happens the 44 scientists and crew know they'd better play well together because there's no turning back they certainly won't like toys the team has new gadgets new cameras cutting-edge science to help them check the health of the ocean as I'm a fishing caused harm is global warming forcing a sea change the scientists aim to find out once they get past the seasickness shifts dr. Jenny Visser takes her job very seriously Tonga royal will sail well beyond the reach of a helicopter rescue if illness or injury strikes help will come by slow boat or not at all doctor Jenny's skills could mean the difference between life and death nice how we doing yeah six days out the team spots its first iceberg say that something right now that's good it's good a free floating chunk of ice capped off an ice shelf this legendary Menace of the high seas reveals only one-eighth of itself as it glides aimlessly and destructively through the water the team find it thrilling an ominous hint of the hazards that lie ahead Tongarewa is a fisheries research vessel no icebreaker and these small icebergs called growlers seem to be ganging up on the ship obviously we're as icebergs around its Bergy water there's a few growlers about we're heading south so I'm not saying exactly where I'm gonna go I want to have a look and just have a feel for the terrain and so which way we can work our way through the ice to the rush say captain Leachman navigates these waters knowing others have attempted and failed here in the footsteps of Scott Shackleton is a challenge he's a real challenging thing for any ship's captain to take a ship down there in 1914 serviced Shackleton's ship endurance became trapped in sea ice he and his crew spent a grueling winter battling the elements until the ice ultimately crushed and sunk the ship it's an epic tale of Antarctic survival and it replayed in 2007 when ice engulfed the tour ship Explorer in and Arctic waters read the history and he'll know I am very careful because I know the rules the rules are simple never underestimate the ice and never turn your back on it satellite ice charts and reports from other ships will help guide him to the thinnest parts of the pack ice head scientists to henshin worries about the encroaching ice barriers scuttling their plans but he trusts the captain there was quite a bit of a concern whether we would in fact be able to get into the raw sea and achieve some of our objectives we envisage probably taking two maybe three days to break through the pack ice into the open waters of the Ross Sea itself the tongue a roar may not be an ice breaker but the ice doesn't know it the sharp prow makes sure work of it for now off the stern the minke whale on sanctuary skulking down a hearty meal of krill among the ice chunks Miki's can grow nearly nine meters positively puny compared to their blue whale cousins who can stretch to more than three times that size and that means an awful lot of krill to sustain a healthy population of whales paintings see especially the crabeater seals who also make their home on the shifting ice slurping down krill not crabs each year they eat about 25 times their body weight and krill filtered through their interlocking strainer white teeth and these ever-popular emperors of Antarctica will punish the dark and brutal winter by mating they'll brave temperatures lower than minus 40 to lay eggs and raise their chicks the work the scientists do down here could help all these animals survive an uncertain future each night three hours of darkness brings new dangers of the ice clogged waters safety depends on constant vigilance and this is only summer ice in the winter Tongarewa wouldn't stand a chance right now we're doing let's look the ship breaks free by now Tangaroa has spent ten days at sea nearly four of them packed in ice wind and currents keep this part of the Ross Sea ice-free in summer voyage leader John Mitchell can breathe a little easier but experience tells him he hasn't seen the last of it that's always gonna get in the line regardless what you died they've on the B star shoes you still get off and it still cuts it's always where you want to bite while the sea stays calm and free of ice the team prepares to plunge into an alien world for the first time these scientists will get to see what's down there courtesy of the deep-toned imaging system they called Aegis custom-made for this type of deep-sea exploration it's high-definition video and stills cameras will act as a team's eyes and this high pressure low light environment okay we're ready to go positions going ready no one I truly feel tested the unity in such icy conditions before too late to think about that now like an explorer dispatched to a foreign world the imaging system begins its fact-finding mission the scientists hold their breath yeah this is the drive way lunch El Sistema nobody really knows what's down here at last the ocean floor and you could you just a whole day for limit place to a marine biologist this is big like the first moon walk as the live video images come up from the seabed the scientists log what they see and strain to find things they'd never seen before they will crawl for an hour the length of a videotape giving the team their first tantalizing image of polar marine life in perpetual nighttime there's quite a lot of fragments of things here on that now that you've seen the creatures on the video they want to get their hands on them for that they'll need to trawl with Nets not cameras they punched Rollins systemically first they'll trawl the bottom of the ocean sweeping across the floor to sample the bottom dwellers then they'll trawl at mid-level collecting samples of free swimming fish then skimming the surface for plankton they'll also use specialized equipment to sample water and mud from directly beneath the ship to study its microbes and chemical makeup as a commercial fishing practice bottom trawling dredges a worldwide controversy because of damage to the seabed science however takes a gentler approach you know we have limited our tools to about 15 or 20 minutes bottom time the actual percentage of the total seabed area impacted by the bottom trawl is very small but the bottom trawl doesn't even last 15 minutes before the rough seabed forces the crew to pull the net that's the cue for American marine biologist Christopher Jones to grab his gear this'll be exciting the anticipation makes the scientists forget all about the minus 10 degree Celsius conditions and Andrew Stewart thinks all of his Christmases have come at once it's gonna be a bit like Santa Claus coming up they stand right there we don't know what's going to be in that sack could be a pair of socks or it could be a new bike who knows now this is good we've got all sorts of things in here Santa must be pleased with Christopher Jones there's a big disaster that's a big beautiful disaster 'kiss Moss and I that's what we're looking for we got a good one here dis la stick is moss and I'm the Antarctic toothfish one of the Giants of the marine ecosystem on the menu that goes by Chilean sea bass and it's harvested by the thousands if it disappears from the ocean more than dinners at stake a nice diverse catch here it could mean an ecosystem on the brink of collapse this is the fish that is probably the most economically important that's being caught by the commercial fishery in the southern ocean specimen here of an Antarctic toothfish this big guy tells the crew that all's well down below the undersea camera built up the team's expectations about what they might collect the bottom foam that delivers on its promise sponges among the most primitive sea animals have no nervous or digestive systems they feed by filtering water through their pores the trawl brought up an exotic specimen that we used its body out of silica that's a hex actonel it's sponge which is also known as a glass sponge and a very slow-growing very irritating if you get any of the spicules on you and santa's sack has delivered a special gift for andrew style fish snail fish what poorly understood and andrew may have found a new species this is why I came to in town okay seeing things like this just beyond words we now have whole families officious that have found nowhere else in the world except in the Southern Ocean and these are fascinating animals these are the ice fishers temperatures above five degrees Celsius are too hot for them and in fact a lethal form of the sea holds a dizzying variety of fish to baffle and thrill marine biologists nature even saw fit to make about a hundred and fifteen species of Andrew snail fish I have to look at such features as they shape in the teeth the jaws the shape of the gill rakers as well as accounts of the birds breakouts of the I'm an orphan raised [Music] along comes the kind of discovery that blows biologists out of the water now I had no I which species this is that Kalla patent on the fence is like nothing I've ever seen before most scientists hope to find something truly new but only a few actually accomplish it Andrew might have discovered yet another new species making him the first human to lay eyes on this creature that's evolved over millions of years though cut short this first trough offers something for everyone we only had ten minutes on the bottom of my craft grants so we had to Old Hall early but yeah looks very good the first one scientists have catalogue about 135 species of fish from the largely unexplored Ross Sea on this expedition the team intends to add a new chapter to this Antarctic fish story in the depths of the ship the team studies the fish finder to locate schools of small fish and krill the foundation of the elaborate food chain since big fish depend on little fish the scientists want to check their health that means another fishing expedition [Applause] yeah hi Andrew its Richard he D on the acoustic slate we sing a bit of a mark on our standard down here we're quite interested in doing a mid-water trawl the target spotted the nets deploy but if the net closes in on the fish the weather closes in on the ship unlike the previous draw this monster mid-water net will crawl between surface and the sea bottom scooping up the free swimming fish this is the butt that's going into the troll and all these little Reed tech max through here and that tells us we're catching fish so everything's looking good isn't matter it is in days medicine clouds gather on the horizon a sudden turn in the polar weather can endanger equipment and anyone caught on deck okay ma'am now Ronnie calming up there she comes the wind from the approaching front hit suddenly before they can get the net on board a full Gale senses your oh holy now but the angry senior floods the deck waves crashing over the stern can easily sweep with whomever into the icy churning sea where the cold shot can kill in three minutes in the catch the net overflows with silverfish a very healthy sign it's one of the most abundant species in the Ross Sea it's eaten by quite a lot of species so it's important in the food chain among the mass of silverfish Andrew spies a lethal predator most likely feeding wind snare what was cool that this striking fine wheel tummy nice set of choppers pretty fish comes up underneath blood that lines down John reverses services bottle court that fish turned round the ferocious storm puts a halt to the science program the ship slows down to ride it out nature runs the show hell and the team battens down the hatches this isn't funny you know despite the boat pinching and rolling life goes on a well-stocked galley serves those who have still managed to keep the food out whatever the scene throws at them the team takes in stride ghost riding and heavy swell does take some practice [Music] [Music] at last the storm passes costing the crew a day-and-a-half sampling microbiologist Julie halls work involves checking the health of the Southern Oceans tiniest residence this device collects her water samples she remotely open and close the sampling bottles at various depths from the seabed to the surface once the samples break the surface the team rushes to retrieve them without spilling a drop and you can say the separation and the get crimp to be really careful bring it on board and such and slippery conditions so we're gonna pull around into the garage so we're out of the wonder what the south wing and then we'll start taking [Music] she wants to see if increased greenhouse gases in the ocean have any effect on life down here she'll measure chemicals water temperature and bacteria in the seats we've got the water from that coming out and going in about 10 different directions for analysis of nutrients in the water chlorophyll phytoplankton we're also looking at viruses the micro zooplankton those very very tiny zooplankton her work in this far-off sea you may have global implications but Julie's about to feel the full weight of her isolation from the world back home [Music] just two weeks into the mission captain Leachman receives an urgent satellite phone call from the New Zealand police early morning I was called to the bridge and the the sergeant in Matamata said look we've got some bad news yeah we got a a dr. Julie Hall aboard and I said yes he said well the unfortunately our husband's been killed in England you know anyway when I when I did do his got Julie up and sat about there was my duty to inform her and then it's a very very difficult thing to do so I'm awfully sorry I've got some bad news and your husband's been killed Julie's husband doctor crevel Adkins was also a scientist he died while competing in a gliding competition he was competing in the New Zealand Championships and he had an accident very close to the airfield and had been killed instantly on impact at the site I explained that I would do everything in my power to get a home but the difficulty of course have been in isolating and isolated where we were there's no guarantee we could get her off [Music] fickle weather and enormous distances have conspired against Julie by now Tongarewa has sailed well beyond reach of any helicopter and too far out to turn around if Julie has any hope of getting home captain Leachman must find a nearby ship able to make the journey I had to think about my own situation how I felt about things how any decision impacted on others back in New Zealand but also the impact of me leaving would have on the science and the people around me with the weather deteriorated and the nearest ship at least three days away Julie has to make an immediate decision stay with the mission or return home to her family when as it turned out I'd made the decision not to life she decided that really she was going up to an empty house and that she didn't want to go out she was happy where she was the strongest reaction of why aren't you coming home came from people who really didn't understand the isolation and also not really the situation on the ship in terms of being surrounded by press colleagues who were very supportive as they edge their way along the Ross Ice Shelf the wind kicks up an icy spray just another summer day in the inductive [Music] the temperature plunges to minus 14 Celsius and spray freezes on contact the net deep tote imaging deployment gets put on hold much to the crews relief that is the life of this eyelash everything frozen including ice and the forecast gets even more chilling okay so much that just came in this morning to show us the current state of fight the seven Rossi is refreezing faster than expected already covering several of their plans sampling stations it could be on to us if the subway wind continues that the whole thing is gonna freeze up and it'll be like operating in fresh that concrete so it's not good we won't really do much sampling if those conditions prevail with the water temperature down to minus 1.8 Celsius the sea starts to freeze in a spectacular if alarming display it stretches to the horizon in every direction and can potentially strand the ship don't like it when it's really sick I really don't I'm always fine I'll do a Shackleton the pancake ice has begun heralding one of the planets greatest annual displays the freezing of seas around Antarctica over winter the event effectively doubles the size of the continent the science leaders called an emergency strategy meeting like the genome consensus is now that we think I much further east than here which is probably good idea cuz looking at the one night they agreed to continue their work here as long as they can before the ocean freezes solid so the most extremity of our activities we're gonna do a thesis Tony and then we will proceed northwest it's like fishing in a margarita the slushy turmoil in the surface hides the calm waters below as Antarctica began its deep freeze over 30 million years ago life here evolved and flourished [Music] now comes a new challenge despite the pristine nature of this remote ocean the imaging system shows human intruders the stills camera snaps a beer bottle and commercial fishing activity leaves its mark in the form of a trawlers longline when the weather allows commercial trawlers drop their deadly long lines here to catch toothfish the so called sea bass this healthy specimen means more than tonight's dinner special it's the poster child for good fishing management elsewhere in the southern seas indiscriminate practices have dangerously depleted its relative the Patagonian toothfish but stricter Antarctic regulations allow us to have our fish and eat it too Christopher Jones hopes it stays that way it's the one fish that human beings are having the greatest impact on we're okay now but we have to be very very cautious if we decide to to increase the catch this whopper weighs an incredible 50 6.8 kilograms and still only half the size these mighty fish can grow in one recent summer the long liners relieve the raw sea of 3,000 tons of them while Tangaroa has only caught five for research there may still be plenty of fish in the sea but these scientists are always chasing the one that got away besides catching a mammoth tooth fish the team has also collected some of its favorite food including the glacial squid that's a lovely specimen of the Glacial squid very nice condition indeed for a very delicate squid and octopus fragile members of the rich and diverse cephalopod family live in every climate and at every depth they may look bizarre but they boast the biggest brains among the invertebrates like any spineless creature a squids first instinct is to hide but a cornered one has some potent weapons in its armory like this parrot-like beak that can deliver a nasty peck or these lethal hooks used for snaring prey but right now Darrin Stephens had snared his catch of the day an incredibly rare deepwater octopus this is a lovely specimen of storoe two--this it's another one the Dumbo octopus in a very gelatinous individual only a handful of these octopuses have ever been found anywhere and this is the first intact one caught in the Ross Sea the fact that it came out of the net 100% intact makes it even more remarkable so far Darrin has collected 26 species of squid and octopus but he yearns for the big one this baby colossal squid found only in dent Arctic waters can grow up to an amazing 4 meters long Darren hopes to meet its mother [Music] overnight the imaging system shows the seabed too rocky for the bottom for all net the situation calls for the smaller more robust beam trawl instead of the steel doors a large wooden beam prompts over the mouth of the neck as the net pulls in the team eagerly awaits its catch from 1600 meters down it feels like they've hooked the big one perhaps it's Darren's colossal squid well yeah I heard something not a squid but colossal all the same what looks like we might have the dead fans get left studying the latest satellite charts captain Leachman finds a path way through the ice-barrier if they leave though right away some stage will need to escape from this area through this ice bridge my way to the north the way to deal with encroaching ice is to head for warmer waters and in the southern hemisphere that only means one thing down a young man kirino's as Tangaroa steams north into deeper water julie deploys a multiple opening and closing net or mock nests each tentacle of this mountainous monster has snatched plankton and krill from various depths this is a very important Motley's sample for us that's come from three thousand four hundred meters it's the deepest one we've ever done along with the microscopic animals known as zooplankton Lisa spies a tiny deep-sea squid a little gift for Darren the squid guy Darren yeah killer moves got a present for Amanda plankton led to me beautifully it's in very good condition you know we've found some fascinating things and quite often they're bright red which is really cool he is great and very much still alive what have you got for me okay weird that is gorgeous Bethy ptosis abyss e-collar you've done very well [Music] as ton Aloha nudges north in the sea-ice the work in the plankton lab goes on and the mop nice name we clicked sort of a larger phytoplankton in there and sometimes that's come up literally looking like pea soup with those larger phytoplankton they get caught in that net I'm amazed the amount of life in here it certainly looks quite productive a lot more productive than I'd imagined Antarctic waters but I guess something's got to be there to feed the krill which live down here the mid trawl net hauled up plenty of krill and Chris gets the smelly job of weighing and measuring every last one of them it's the only way to calculate how many of these crucial crustaceans inhabit the Ross Sea krill really drive most of the ecosystem that is all the land-based predators penguins the seals birds most of the fish species whales they're all highly dependent on krill the arrival of two hoback's delights the team they've come for the krill of course gorging themselves before migrating back to the breeding grounds in the Pacific this is great it couldn't be any better the the sun is shining and it's just a beautiful day the ice is right behind those whales [Music] emperor penguins also come for the all-you-can-eat buffet after laying their eggs in a dead of winter the females complete an arduous collect from open water to feed the chicks and krill one of the lowest things in the food chain becomes a meal fit for an emperor [Music] 33 days into the expedition tongue aroma breaks into open water again on the horizon moon Scott Island and agates pillar these insignificant-looking rocks are actually the top of the seamount a volcanic undersea mountain trust from the bottom of the ocean 4,000 meters below a deep region known as the abyssal seabed Malcom Clarke studies these bedrock communities that thrive on dramatically steep slopes some creatures prefer a bed with more support they opt to live on the rocky sea mount instead of a posh seabed so animals that need to attach to something really hard like corals sponges they're able to latch on and again survive where the the soft sediment of the abyssal Plains doesn't label them to survive the team decides to drop in on the sea mount community using the beam draw but the sea mount is not accepting visitors outcomes nothing but the tangled cables of the broken troll the wooden beam is smashed into they just look pretty good with the go that's just one of the risks we take they need to repair it or they're dead in the water so the crew is optimistic the technical mainship if he give us me a verse about that they cut out the tangled wire and splice it back together and where would a sailor be without his knots before long they're back in business having braved ice storms broken equipment and rough seas for almost two months the team braces itself for the most high-pressure assignment of all they will delve 3,500 metres into the abyssal plain a depth almost as high as the Swiss Alps to prepare for the mission team members perform an exacting scientific endeavor decorating polystyrene cups because they've been made and compressed with here when we put them down to the date they'll hopefully compress and get smaller and smaller and smaller and eventually we hope they'll turn out like some books it will endure 300 times more pressure than we experience every day [Music] suddenly the abyssal plane reveals itself it looks barren like the surface of Mars but a closer look reveals life no one has ever witnessed sights like these in Antarctica before [Music] then something goes horribly wrong you've just lost the video yeah we just yes they were wondering what's going on it could be a minor malfunction or a catastrophic failure it just concerns me we need to that deep too suddenly guys he said something I'm going to push it and probably sales and they hold the apparatus back up I see the problem right away idea dripping water supposed to happen what's happened as the the pressure has been too great for the the clasp on the bottom and it's got a hairline crack across remarkably the camera continue to operate allowing chairs myriad to replay its destruction you can see a crack started to form across the glass lens on the front of the housing and as we scroll through the frames you can see water starting to seep into the house and it's these blurry bits here and slowly filling up the bottom of the housing and the lens of water evens out across the glass you can still see all the photos quite clearly again for the rest of the team the experiment is a crushing success 300 atmospheres of pressure bearing down equally on all sides have been ature eyes them without damage even the illustrations in lettering remain imperfect miniature [Music] the team also take the opportunity to fall the bottom having set up more than 5,000 meters of the repaired cable into the seat the beam from finally comes aboard at 2:00 a.m. and after six hours of waiting the team gets its reward 12 buckets of mud and one single fish but in this mud lies many delectable delights like this sea cucumber that would be against another aural appendage he's wagging his tail though now if this doesn't demonstrate all the glamour of marine biology nothing does Carine has cleaned up our sea cucumber for a better look this is the back side of it and the the front of it is clearly the other side which has got these these oral tentacles then Korean finds an even more curious specimen it has something quite interesting at the front which sort of lighten it a little bit to us we don't know how many down there we don't know how common this is I have never seen anything like this before sea cucumbers are the oceans vacuum cleaners walking along the bottom sucking nutrients out of the mud they eat the video enables the scientists to observe them in all their sluggish action scientists recognized about 1,200 species of sea cucumbers none of them very attractive except maybe to marine biologists but as the expedition winds down they'll encounter creatures strange by any standard forty-four days into the voyage and the last day of sampling has arrived it's also Andrews 50th birthday the team has stayed up late to prepare a surprise [Music] they've conducted 312 sampling deployments at 39 different stations yet still a sense of expectation grips them last bottom trawl at the cruise the video shows parasites attached to deep-sea rat tail finish the scientists hope the trawl snares one after a long day's wait and drooly others get to see the last net come in with deep troughs they come to expect some strange specimens they are not disappointed these abyssal fish have evolved to cope with the crushing pressure down below but when they're pulled to the surface their guts blow up like a balloon come out it's the pressures caused these swim bladders to expand and blow out the male's unfortunately that doesn't do do the much good and the fish would is horrifying host has turned up in the net parasites right here on the rat tail you can see that thing it's good part of it goes well down into the body cavity today Andrew receives a birthday gift only a biologist to love an ambush predator with a mouth of needle sharp teeth and the scientific name for this one is Callie named after the Hindu goddess of destruction these fish have a remarkable ability to swallow prey much much larger than themselves and the whole stomach area just unzip sand expands this is just a great fun it's the first fine for the sixth edition first record of this family in the Ross Sea as the mission winds down the scientists logged the last of the specimens this snapshot of Antarctic biodiversity will be compared with the results of expeditions to come [Music] as they head back to New Zealand captain Leachman reflects on Tonga rose 7,000 nautical mile journey through one of the most challenging oceans on earth [Music] once you've had a touch of F and sanely the visibility see 200 miles see Mount Melbourne pink in them in the Midnight Sun no I mean there's no words can't describe just that the beauty of it is wonderful and woody go again [Music] for Julie hall the life she's coming back to is not the one she left but she has no doubt that the painful choice she made was the right one I felt that he would have wanted me to stay and finish the program that I've put so much time and energy into developing been planning this for over two years so to walk away would have been very difficult Andrew Stewart and the fish team scored 88 different fish species at least five are thought to be new to science but only a small fraction of what scientists believe is still out there I think that what we have already retrieved from the Southern Ocean has been incredible I think in many ways we've barely scratched the surface as these scientists returned home they're proud that their 50 days aboard Tongarewa have made this unfathomable world a little more knowable [Music] you
Channel: TRACKS
Views: 967,313
Rating: 4.6168861 out of 5
Keywords: antarctica for kids, antarcita, arctic documentary, animals in the arctic, secrets of the arctic, global warming, polar ice caps, climate change, documentary, TRACKS, tracks travel channel, tracks travel
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Length: 50min 8sec (3008 seconds)
Published: Tue Jul 09 2019
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