Puff: Wonders of the Reef (2021) Movie Script

[gentle music playing]
[narrator] Imagine you're cast at birth
into a galaxy of tiny drifting creatures.
A speck lost in the ocean.
You never met your mother or father.
You have no one to show you
where to go or what to do.
That's how life begins
for this little sharpnose pufferfish.
We'll call him Puff.
Just a couple of months old,
he's smaller than a fingernail.
Adrift in the ocean,
headed for an uncertain future.
This is Puff's world.
A vibrant coral reef,
home to thousands of creatures.
But to see what Puff sees,
you have to look closer.
Even closer.
Because the story of every coral reef
starts with its tiniest creatures.
For the first time, we have opened
a window to their incredible micro-verse.
A world where drama unfolds
on scales too small...
too fast...
or too slow for the human eye to perceive.
And from Puff's tiny point of view,
it must seem almost magical.
The reef as we've never seen it before.
[soft piano playing]
[whimsical music playing]
[narrator] To the naked eye,
the open ocean may seem lifeless,
but when you look closer,
billions of tiny creatures are revealed.
Some so minute
that hundreds of individuals
would fit in a single drop of water.
This is where Puff
begins his life journey.
He hatched from an egg on the reef
and drifted with the current out to sea,
to feed on tiny plankton.
This is how many reef fish
begin their lives.
[dramatic music playing]
[narrator] But within months,
these microscopic morsels
are no longer enough to sustain him.
He needs to find bigger things to eat.
And that poses a problem
as big as the ocean.
How will Puff find his way back
to the reef?
Something amazing happens when lots
of creatures gather in the same place.
Crowds make noise,
and a coral reef is a busy place.
Sound can travel for miles underwater.
All Puff has to do is listen.
Most of what you see
here is built by animals
smaller than the tip of your finger.
Thousands of lives
and millions of stories are unfolding.
Don't believe me?
Try looking from Puff's perspective.
The smallest of these animals
are no larger than a grain of sand.
[ethereal music playing]
[narrator] Puff's new world
is a micro-verse of tiny creatures
that live their lives
unnoticed by giants like us.
[unsettling music plays]
[muffled breathing]
[narrator] At around three months of age,
Puff is only the size of a jellybean.
That's not just daunting,
it's dangerous.
Fortunately for Puff, he has
an ingenious way of defending himself.
He's toxic.
And he comes with a warning label.
The markings on his body say,
"Eat me, and you'll regret it."
But being poisonous
doesn't make him invincible.
And nearby, a predator lurks.
A lionfish.
This ferocious hunter's dazzling fins
are perfect for herding small prey
into tight spots.
[unsettling music playing]
[soft music playing]
[narrator] Most young reef fish
don't survive their first year of life.
Luckily for Puff,
the coral creates a maze
of tiny passageways
where a baby fish can hide for the night.
Out of sight,
and off the menu.
As Puff sleeps, the foundations
of his world begin to stir.
[suspenseful music playing]
[narrator] Every year,
the moon, the tides,
and the water temperature
all signal to billions of corals
that tonight is the night
to cast the young to the sea.
At the mouths of tiny coral polyps,
minuscule bundles
of eggs and sperm appear.
In near perfect synchronicity,
they lift off...
and journey to the surface.
The bundles drift with the current
and mix with the spawn
of thousands of other coral colonies.
If among the billions of eggs
released tonight
one should meet its match...
something extraordinary happens.
A microscopic larva forms,
a barely visible creature
on a quest to build a new coral colony.
It drifts for days
until it hears the call of the reef.
And dives,
braving a minefield
of predators and traps.
[sinister music playing]
When you're the size of a speck,
a three-centimeter-long shrimp
can be monstrous.
[eerie music playing]
[narrator] On the reef, the larva searches
for a perfect place to make its home.
When it finds the right spot,
it transforms
from a free-swimming larva
into a young coral.
As it grows,
its skeleton forms part of the reef.
With the help
of other tiny construction workers,
the corals build living structures
that create homes
for countless other creatures.
It takes hundreds,
sometimes thousands of years,
for generations of tiny reef-builders
to construct Puff's coral metropolis.
Inside his reef hiding place,
Puff is safe for now.
But he needs to brave the predators
and head out to find food.
And once again, the corals help out.
Because corals produce energy
that feeds the animals of the reef.
It all starts with single-celled,
plant-like creatures
living within the corals,
the zooxanthellae.
Don't let that big name fool you.
Everything here, really small.
These little guys
are the coral's life partners,
harvesting energy from sunlight
to feed their coral hosts.
And as the corals grow and thrive,
they share their energy
with the rest of the reef.
Some creatures consume the energy directly
by eating the coral.
This baby crown-of-thorns starfish
uses tiny eyespots on the end
of each armto locate coral colonies.
A keen sense of underwater smell
helps it find the right species.
And it devours the coral polyps,
leaving a scar on the reef.
Not all inhabitants
feed on the coral directly.
If they did,
they'd soon demolish their reef city.
Fortunately, there's another way
corals supply food.
They do it with slime.
Corals shed mucus too fine
for creatures like Puff to eat,
but an ancient group of organisms
makes sure this energy is not lost.
To the naked eye,
they may appear motionless,
but if you speed up time,
their vital role in the reef is revealed.
Sponges pump huge volumes of water
through their bodies,
filtering out the coral mucus
and using the energy to grow.
[soft music playing]
[narrator] After they've had their fill,
the sponges concentrate organic waste
on their surfaces,
creating a bite-sized buffet
for tiny creatures to feed on.
And those animals
are eaten by slightly bigger creatures.
Oh no. No, no, no.Just slightly bigger?
No, that's... That's way too big.
That's huge. That's massive.
This... yes.
That's better.
Some of the recycled sponge food
also washes up the water column
where it's captured and consumed
by filter feeders.
Like the Christmas tree worm.
Easily the most festive worm of the sea.
[mellow music playing]
This almond-sized porcelain crab
uses feathery claws
to capture tiny particles of food
from the water.
Down here,
every surface is covered with life.
Nothing goes to waste.
On the back of a sea snail
the size of an olive,
even smaller creatures make their home.
Without these little creatures recycling
the energy captured by the corals,
the larger ones would have nothing to eat.
Life on the reef is dependent on
thousands of creatures working together,
each with a vital role to play.
[whimsical music playing]
[narrator] Puff is perfectly adapted
to hunt in this tiny world.
But the grim fact is,
most things that eat can also be eaten.
Not all corals are harmless.
Some are predators...
their tentacles covered in deadly cells
that harpoon
and paralyze speck-sized prey.
[ominous music playing]
[ominous music intensifies]
[narrator] If he's going to survive
the depths of the reef,
Puff must learn all the secrets
of its dark recesses.
Some alleyways
are more treacherous than others.
[sinister music playing]
[narrator] This anglerfish
is about as long as your thumb.
A giant in this micro world.
[mellow music playing]
[ominous music playing]
[vibrant music playing]
[narrator] Puff's discovered
his pufferfish superpower.
He can blow up like a balloon
in a fraction of a second,
a trick that has just saved his life.
Being one of the smallest fish on the reef
means Puff is in constant danger.
[unsettling music plays]
[narrator] His superpower may keep
predators at bayfor a while,
but other forces are beyond his control.
[thunder rumbling]
[thunder cracking]
[narrator] Above the waves, a storm brews
in a world that Puff can never know.
Its brutal force delves deep
into the ocean.
[muffled thunder rumbling]
[eerie music playing]
[narrator] Despite its abundance of food,
the reef remains a treacherous place
for a baby fish.
Instinct tells him there may be
safer waters beyond the coral metropolis.
But to find this haven,
he must cross a strange, new world.
The sand flats.
Among the sand grains,
it's every crab for herself.
[mellow music playing]
[narrator] The plains are home to
creatures thatscavenge,sift, and burrow.
[suspenseful music playing]
[narrator] Out here,
it's a fish-eat-brittle-star world.
In the dunes,
Puff finds a mollusk hauling its shell
through a garden of walking dendros.
These walnut-sized corals
live on the sand,
absorbing sunlight
and feeding on tiny creatures.
But it isn't all sun-baking and snacks.
They're in constant danger
of being toppled or buried alive.
A death sentence
for a coral that needs sunlight.
But sometimes help comes
from unexpected places.
Like, really unexpected places.
In this case, from a wormhole.
[ominous music playing]
[narrator] The peanut worm lives in a hole
in the base of the dendro.
The worm keeps its coral landlord upright.
In return, the dendro offers protection
as its slippery tenant
scours the sand for food,
towing its coral caravan along
for the ride.
There are no small roles here,
only small organisms.
The journey across the sand flats
may not be a great distance,
but for a baby fish, it's an odyssey.
Out here, there's nowhere to hide
and not much to eat.
Just when it seems like the sand
might go on forever,
an oasis appears on the horizon.
A labyrinth of mangrove roots,
pockets and passageways with plenty to eat
and fewer ways to be eaten.
[ethereal music playing]
[narrator] The ideal place
for a thumbnail-sized fish to feed,
grow, and perfect the skills
he'll need to survive.
He's not the only one
to have made this pilgrimage.
The shallows are a haven
for all kinds of baby reef fish.
Puff has found his fish nursery.
Things are looking up.
It's been days since his last proper meal.
He's so hungry he could eat a horse.
Or maybe not.
But he does need to find food, and fast.
Watching how the locals do it
could help him.
[whimsical music playing]
[narrator] Pinky-sized seahorses
are expert hunters in this tiny world.
They target crustaceans
smaller than a grain of rice.
These tiny grazers
spend their time munching on algae
and microscopic animals in the seagrass.
They play an essential role
in the food web here.
A link between the plants
and larger creatures like Puff.
[celestial music playing]
[suspenseful music playing]
[soft music playing]
[narrator] In the meadows of the lagoon,
algae and seagrasses
harvest energy from the sun.
Supplying food for the community
as well as producing oxygen
for the rest of the planet.
It's a big job for these tiny plants.
Seagrass flowers
are smaller than dandelions.
And they attract swarms
of the tiny crustaceans
that Puff and the seahorses love to eat.
Like these, the crustaceans
can carry pollen from flower to flower.
[celestial music playing]
[narrator] The lagoon is a cosmos
of worlds within worlds.
The closer you look, the more you find.
On a blade of seagrass,
a microscopic entoproct
rolls the contents of its tiny stomach.
Very little is known about this world.
It's just too small.
[mellow music playing]
[narrator] After six months
in the shallows,
Puff is now an adolescent.
And he's eating like one.
[whimsical music playing]
[narrator] He's quadrupled in size.
And his confidence is growing.
But he can't let his guard down.
Even this idyllic nursery
has ambush predators.
This scorpion fish
is perfectly camouflaged,
waiting for unsuspecting victims
to cruise by.
[sinister music playing]
[narrator] But sometimes,
the camouflage can backfire.
The lagoon is a network of relationships.
Everywhere you look,
tiny stories are unfolding.
[celestial music playing]
[narrator] This guard crab doesn't like
baby fishtaking bites out of his home.
And he's not gonna put up with any trouble
from a grape-sized butterfly fish.
[ominous music playing]
[narrator] Just when he thought
his work was done,
a hermit decides to trample his polyps.
And clearly, that's not okay.
[dramatic music playing]
[narrator] A crab might look tough
when he's dispatching intruders,
but without his coral refuge,
he, too, could end up as someone's dinner.
The crab needs its coral
as much as the coral needs its crab.
Every creature is dependent on others
for its survival.
[soft music playing]
[narrator] Little Puff has grown
to the size of a human thumb.
Just over two inches long,
and he's finally outgrown this nursery.
Now that he's bigger, the abundant food
back at the reef seems more attractive.
He'll have to cross the sand flats again.
But this time,
Puff sets out as a young adult
in search of his forever home.
[unsettling music plays]
[narrator] Early into the crossing,
Puff comes across ablind zombie snail
sniffing out its next meal.
Tiny scavengers like him
are the ocean's clean-up crew.
It's a dirty job,
but someone's got to do it.
Nearby, a predatory cone snail
is on the hunt.
And he catches the scent
of a zombie snail on the current.
[suspenseful music playing]
[narrator] A low-speed chase begins.
Like a lion hunting a gazelle
on the African plains,
the action is thrilling.
Not really, but it's pretty exciting
when you speed it up.
Out here, you can run,
but you can't hide.
Not from a cone snail's
highly-developed sense of smell.
[suspenseful music intensifies]
[suspenseful music calms down]
[suspenseful music rushes]
[narrator] The cone snail dispatches
the zombiewith a venomous harpoon.
[ethereal music playing]
[narrator] It's a snail-eat-snail world,
but Puff is learning to take
all the murder and mayhem in his stride.
And right now, he's more concerned
with grabbing fast food
on the long journey back to the reef.
[narrator] As Puff approaches the reef,
he finds a changed world.
Strange colors signal
that the corals are suffering.
The water temperature
is well above their comfort zone.
[dramatic music playing]
[narrator] Within the corals,
the zooxanthellae are stressed,
and the corals start to expel them.
Without their little life partners
supplying food,
they begin to bleach and starve.
[ominous music playing]
[narrator] The corals are dying.
[somber music playing]
[narrator] Puff's underwater metropolis,
constructed over thousands of years,
is reduced to rubble by a warming ocean.
Many of our planet's coral reefs
are already in this catastrophic state.
Every year, the collapse continues.
Unless we change
the way we do things in our world,
Puff's world will cease to exist.
This was supposed to be
journey's end for Puff,
but he can't stay here.
He'll have to move on
in search of a healthy reef to call home.
[soft piano playing]
[narrator] At around two years of age,
Puff is now ten times longer
than when he first arrived on the reef.
About the size of the palm of your hand.
It's that time of year again,
when the cycles of the moon
and the temperature of the water
trigger the reproductive systems
of billions of corals
on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
[vibrant music playing]
[narrator] What starts as a trickle
soon floods the sea with hope.
[dramatic music playing]
[narrator] A new generation
sets offto repair,
restore, and create new coral reefs.
On the same night, thousands of other
reef creatures join the mass spawning.
It's the biggest reproductive event
on Earth.
With a little luck, some of these
microscopic heroes will drift to a place
where the fish are healthy,
the water is clean,
and the temperature is just right.
If they do, they may,
against incredible odds,
complete their vital mission...
to build and maintain
the largest living structure on Earth.
Puff has finally found his happy place,
a healthy coral reef.
[uplifting music playing]
[narrator] Now that he's bigger
and more confident,
old enemies that once bullied him
steer clear.
[ominous music playing]
[narrator] Yeah, keep swimming,lionfish.
Just keep swimming.
All grown up,
Puff will soon find a territory,
an area he will get to know
like the back of his fin.
And he'll defend it
from other male pufferfish,
in the hope that someday
he might find a mate.
[ethereal music playing]
[soft music playing]
[narrator] Puff and his mate
could livefor almost a decade.
One day, their young
will be cast into the ocean
to play a vital role
in this wonderful ecosystem.
And they'll have some big shoes to fill.
Our window to this micro world
has only just opened.
Its tiny creatures
are revealing themselves
to be intelligent and complex
beyond our imagining.
There are still places to swim
with sharpnose pufferfish,
camouflaged monsters, and colorful corals.
These extraordinary little beings
are doing all they can
to maintain their fragile world.
The rest is up to us.
["Let Yourself Be Free" playing]
What do you feel
I gotta know
I gotta know
Whatever it is
You should let it go
Let it go
Dance when you wanna dance
Sing when you wanna sing
Live how you wanna live
Let yourself be free
Dance when you wanna dance
Sing when you wanna sing
Live how you wanna live
Let yourself be free
Can't nobody
Turn me around
Can't nobody
Slow me down
I got this feeling way down in my soul
Gotta hold of me
And it just won't let me go
Dance when you wanna dance
Sing when you wanna sing
Live how you wanna live
Let yourself be free
Dance when you wanna dance
Sing when you wanna sing
Live how you wanna live
Let yourself be free
Dance when you wanna dance
Sing when you wanna sing
Let yourself be free