The segment occurs in the second episode of the natural history series, and shows how several walruses, stranded on a cliff top, confused by a combination of shrinking ice cover and their own poor eyesight, fall from “heights they never should have scaled”, as narrator David Attenborough puts it.
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The behind-the-scenes clip below shows the harrowing effect filming the scene had on the crew.
“They’re either being killed falling or crushing each other, because there’s several thousand crammed on to little tiny bits of beaches,” cameraman Jamie McPherson says.
“It’s the sad reality of climate change,” producer Sophie Lanfear says, through tears. “It’s just so heartbreaking.”
Watch the Our Planet video below.
Polar scientist Anatoly Kochnev helped the Our Planet crew film the disturbing walrus behaviour.
“Earlier on when there was ice, the walruses did not need this place,” he explained. “The more walruses there are, the more they find themselves climbing up high cliffs and rocks. So it is clear that walruses are experiencing problems due to the ice loss. They are meant to live on the ice, now they have lost this ice platform essential for their everyday life in the Chukchi sea.”
He added, “Many scientists blame this on global warming. I’m not a climate specialist, but the fact is, over the last 34 years the ice has just disappeared before my very eyes, and the animals, their natural habitat has changed. That fact is undeniable.”
Attenborough is set to return to the BBC following the release of the Netflix series. The natural history broadcaster is set to bring an “unflinching” climate change film to the BBC later this month, which will examine “the science of climate change and the potential solutions to this global threat”.
Our Planet is available on Netflix now