Nature's Microworlds

Great Barrier Reef

Series 1 - Episode 8 Great Barrier Reef



If you like vivid colours, time-lapse photography and the music of Snow Patrol, this is for you. Steve Backshall narrates another compact natural history lesson, this week focusing on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living structure on Earth. Of course, it’s not just coral; there are islands, built from the coral sand excreted by parrot fish, where sea bird colonies nest; vast beds of sea grass that feed passing herbivores; and 1,500 species of fish.

But the most amazing thing is how a 1mm creature, the coral polyp, working with something even smaller, has created a whole environment that (despite rising sea temperatures, not covered in the programme) continues to flourish.


Steve Backshall dives beneath the surface of Australia's Great Barrier Reef to examine the conditions that allowed a tiny coral block to create the largest living structure on the planet. Plus, he discovers how it continues to flourish despite the coast's storms and nutrient-poor water.