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Natural World

  • Season 32
  • 10 episodes
  • Nature
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Episode 9: Killer Whales: Beneath the Surface - Natural World

Summary

A look at research into the lives of the marine mammals, which were long regarded as fearsome predators until the first one was brought into captivity for study in 1964, revealing facts about their profound intelligence, social interactions and parental instincts. The programme illustrates how contemporary studies continue to unearth revelations about the whales' behaviour.

Review

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Killer whales are mighty, powerful and beautiful beasts. They are brutal, too, hunters who roam in family groups, or pods, communicating in distinct dialects – northern killer whales actually sound different from southern ones. These are sociable creatures who live in matriarch-dominated family groups that stay together for life, and who frequently hunt and feed for the benefit of their wider communities.

Their deadliness is almost sublime – see one killer whale disable a stingray with breathtaking ease – though try telling that to their favourite food, seals. There is incredible footage (that might upset small children) of killer whales almost beaching themselves as they harry then seize seals whose shrieks of fear can be clearly heard as they are flung into their death throes. Scientists have long made studies of killer whales and we accompany experts on trips out to sea as they eavesdrop on the whales’ underwater “conversations”.

How to watch

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Credits

Cast

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PresenterAlec Newman

Crew

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DirectorBill Markham
Executive producerChris Cole
ProducerBill Markham
Series producerRoger Webb

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