David Attenborough to end Blue Planet II with a stark warning on coral reefs

Presenter says the beautiful sea worlds could disappear by 2100 – and lays the blame squarely at humanity's feet

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/12/2017 - Programme Name: Blue Planet II - TX: 10/12/2017 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). Weighing over half a ton, it is largest turtle on the planet but globally, its numbers have fallen catastrophically. Sir David Attenborough travels to Trinidad to meet a remarkable community that are trying to save these iconic giants. 
  Sir David Attenborough, Leatherback turtle - (C) Gavin Thurston - Photographer: Gavin Thurston

Sir David Attenborough is to end Blue Planet II with a stark warning on coral reefs which he says are in danger of disappearing altogether from the Earth within 80 years because of environmental pollution.

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The naturalist will use next Sunday’s final episode to warn that carbon dioxide emissions are making the oceans increasingly acidic, spelling disaster for the delicate eco-system of the world’s reefs.

Increasing acidity means that coral and seashells are dissolving faster than sea creatures can rebuild them he will say in remarks which the BBC is understood to have rigorously fact-checked. If the present situation continues, he maintains, the world’s coral could disappear by 2100.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/12/2017 - Programme Name: Blue Planet II - TX: 10/12/2017 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: A bleached section of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Elevated sea temperatures can cause corals to bleach white and potentially die. While filming for the series, the Great Barrier Reef suffered the worst bleaching event on record – approximately two thirds of shallow water corals on the reef were affected. Great Barrier Reef - (C) BBC NHU - Photographer: screengrab

His stark warning in the final, seventh episode of the acclaimed series also includes the claim that the cause of this “is manmade, beyond question”.

Attenborough has already referenced the threat to coral reefs in a previous episode of Blue Planet II. But, as has become traditional with his recent landmark BBC series, the final episode is more pointedly stark in its warnings.

Coral reefs are particularly close to Attenborough’s heart.

Two years ago he fulfilled a lifetime ambition of visiting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in a submersible for a BBC1 special.

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Blue Planet is on BBC1 on Sunday nights at 9pm