Night on Earth (2020) s01e00 Episode Script

Shot in the Dark

- [instrumental music plays.]
- [bats squeaking.]
Night on Earth takes us around the globe to showcase incredible wildlife stories - that take place after dark.
- [bellowing.]
[cat growls, snarls.]
From tropical rain forests - to the urban jungle - [monkeys chittering.]
arctic ice - to African plains - [animals screeching, snorting.]
crews worked the night shift [birds squawking.]
and used an array of cutting-edge camera technology.
- [radio chirps.]
- [man.]
And then there was light.
Look at that.
Some used ultrasensitive cameras that can shoot in full color with just the faint light of the Moon.
Others filmed animals with thermal imaging gear designed for the battlefield.
- Oh! - With groundbreaking technology came groundbreaking science.
We're using drones technology to count flamingos nesting.
Biologists provided their expertise - on newfound animal behaviors.
- [high-pitched cries.]
There they are.
The cubs are calling.
But even they were amazed at what our cameras revealed.
That's incredible.
Is that what I think it is? [drone whirring.]
Shooting from the air the land and under the water.
Enduring freezing cold - [bugs chirring.]
- and tropical heat.
Whatever it took to capture Night on Earth.
Moonlight-sensitive cameras were first put to the test on Mexico's Caribbean coast.
[electronic beeps.]
The crew's mission: to record the nocturnal behavior of flamingos on a remote lagoon on the Yucatan Peninsula.
[flamingos squawking.]
The flamingos nest in a protected reserve only accessible with the help of biologist Alexander Dzib.
It should be a beautiful tonight.
There are a few clouds, but, um not where the moon is coming.
His expertise will be vital in getting our crew close.
Even so, getting into position isn't easy.
So the flamingo colony is out on a little island, uh, which offers it some protection from predators.
Which means for us, we've gotta cross this water to get there.
It's not that deep, but we've gotta run the gauntlet of crocodiles.
Both American and Morelet's crocodiles lurk here, preying on flamingo chicks that stray from the flock.
We've loaded all our kit up into a boat.
It's pretty heavy, so we're gonna have to walk alongside the boat.
If anything happens, jump in the boat.
So we just have to walk up to this tower, and from there, I'll get into my hide and slowly inch along.
Get as close as I can without scaring them off the nests.
Now Ralph just has to wait for nightfall to put the low-light camera through its paces.
[flamingos squawking.]
Specialist camera tech also plays a role in Alexander's studies.
At the moment, we're using drones technology in order to count flamingos nesting.
And we count one by one.
Imagine counting 20,000 birds.
It takes at least close to a week to finish that work.
Once hunted by people, the number of birds here was in decline.
But with protection, the flock is growing again.
This year, we have 21,900 nests.
So, that means close to 44,000 flamingos, so there is increase of 7,000 more flamingos on the last years.
Over nearly two decades of flamingo research, one thing Alexander hasn't been able to do is record what happens after dark.
But Ralph is going to change that.
I can't see.
I can't see anything with my eyes.
I have to only look through the camera.
[overlapping squawks.]
It's hard to believe the light of the moon is enough for such color and detail.
[Ralph whispers.]
The camera is doing a fantastic job.
I've got this beautiful pink line of flamingos all standing there looking fantastic in this light.
I can see stars in the skies.
I'm really impressed with the images.
The super-sensitive camera proved its worth, showing us a familiar animal in a completely new light.
[bugs chirring.]
The next step was to use it and other cutting-edge cameras to reveal behaviors never seen before.
[zebras braying.]
[chittering cries.]
One crew follow the lead to one of Africa's most famous reserves: - Kenya's Maasai Mara.
- [electronic beeps.]
To film alongside wildlife after dark, they mount the moonlight camera onto a four-wheel drive.
To make all of that camera system work outside, we have to have a lot of equipment in here.
It looks like wires going everywhere, but everything has its place, going out out the window to the gimbal system, going to the front to the cameraman, sound, uh, GPS It's all got a use, but it's, uh, quite crazy in here.
Setup complete, cameraman Jamie McPherson sits up front with his viewfinder and control deck.
[goats bleating.]
It's a short drive to the gates of the reserve where they pick up Dr.
Femke Broekhuis, director of the Mara Cheetah Project.
She's studied cheetahs for over a decade.
This is the first time I've been in a vehicle like this with a film crew, and we're hoping to capture the cheetahs and see what they get up to at night.
[speaking Kiswahili.]
[radio beeps.]
[man speaks indistinctly over radio.]
[Femke in English.]
So we've just gotten information that cheetahs have been seen, so we're just on our way to try and find them.
[bugs chirring.]
Data from GPS tracking collars has shown Femke that, against expectations, these cats are very active after dark.
[low purring.]
Now, she'll get to see for herself.
Headlights would disturb the wildlife, so Baz uses night vision goggles.
To drive during the night is very difficult, 'cause you cannot see any distance, or sometimes you have to just predict where you're driving.
You cannot tell if there is a ditch or there is a hole, so it's quite dangerous.
You have to be very careful.
With Baz at the wheel, the crew just about keep up with the cheetahs.
And the moonlight-sensitive camera is showing its power.
That's incredible.
It's honestly like it's daytime.
I mean, the image is so clear.
I never thought I'd see any cheetah, but especially these cheetahs, like this at night.
I think this is absolutely incredible.
As Femke's data suggested, these cheetahs are on the move.
The team will stick close and keep their camera trained, - hoping to catch more moonlight activity.
- [animals calling.]
Half a world away without the light of a full moon another crew used a different night vision camera.
- On Peru's southern desert coast - [electronic beeps.]
they're looking for something sinister.
Field biologist Marco CardeƱa leads the long hike to the sea caves where their targets are found.
[birds squawking nearby.]
For safety, they trek down the cliff paths in daylight, along trails strewn with millions of seabird feathers.
It's like someone's had a massive pillow fight here, but it's really stinky.
It's full of dust, - so it's not the best place.
- [birds squawking loudly.]
The dust gets everywhere - and its source becomes clear.
- [bird cries continue.]
Four hundred thousand nesting cormorants.
[birds calling.]
Gotta be very careful we don't scare them into the air, 'cause if we do, then all the predators like seagulls will come in, take away the chicks or the eggs.
So we keep a low profile as well, so we don't break the horizon too much.
'Cause as soon as we do that, we become very conspicuous.
[overlapping squawks continue in distance.]
We'll wait a couple of minutes.
The locals have the right of way.
Just waiting for some penguins like you do.
But birds are not what Marco has led them down here for.
[speaking indistinctly in Spanish.]
These caverns house a colony of bats.
To peer into the pitch-dark interior, Luke uses a thermal imaging camera which detects heat instead of seeing light.
I look up here, it's just black, but on the camera - Oh.
- Yeah.
There they are.
[bats squeaking.]
- That's amazing.
- Yeah.
And these bats are vampires.
[chittering squeaks.]
Marco, I've got one question.
When they come out, are they gonna try and bite me? I I'm not sure of the neck.
I think Normally, try to the hands.
- Then, eh, try to cover - [Luke.]
A few nights at the vampire roost gets Luke some great shots.
[squeaking cries.]
Arteries intact, the next mission is to film the bats where they feed: a nearby colony of fur seals.
Luke will use this crane arm to get sweeping shots across the beach.
[birds calling.]
[seals calling.]
So the whole fur seal colony has come out of the water to rest.
And they're all just chilling out for the evening.
All the cubs are feeding with their mothers.
The vampire bats are gonna come out of the darkness at some point.
- [seals calling.]
- [bats squeaking.]
Their arrival puts Luke on edge.
It's quite a spooky place to be at night, because I can only see this screen.
- [animal cries overlapping.]
- Everything else around me is black.
I mean, the sounds are echoing off the cliff behind me.
I've had a rat run up me in the night that I thought was a vampire bat.
And I'm just hoping the bats don't like the taste of me.
[bat squeaking.]
Luke's still on high alert, when suddenly [bellowing.]
the beach is thrown into disarray.
We've got a huge male sea lion that's come up the beach.
He's full of testosterone and anger, and he just wants to grab hold of the pups and kill them.
[overlapping animal cries.]
- [growling.]
- [pup squeaking.]
- Let's hope they get away.
- [seals calling.]
Something we weren't expecting.
We came to see vampire bats, and I see this guy terrorizes this beach at night.
All the pups dash up the cliff.
And while they're up there, the vampire bats are coming in and feeding on them, so They think they've gone up there to get safe, and the poor things are getting hammered by vampire bats.
Your heart just goes out for those pups.
Just hope they get back to their moms later on.
[pups squeaking.]
Their thermal imaging camera revealed more than this crew ever expected.
[overlapping seal cries.]
[bugs chirring.]
The team in Kenya have been following the cheetah group for hours.
[animals calling.]
With only a few nights around the full moon bright enough to film, they need some action.
Femke spots a movement.
[soft purring growl.]
Is there like a? Is that a lion or a hyena or something? Yeah, there's definitely something coming.
Lions? - She's gonna go for the cheetah.
- [lion snarls.]
A lion's power and excellent night vision means encounters like this can be fatal for cheetahs.
These poor cheetahs.
Moving around at night definitely has its risks, because the likelihood of encountering other predators like hyenas and lions will be much higher, because this is when lions and hyenas are most active.
This time, the cheetah gets away, but it reaffirms the nighttime pecking order.
Just after midnight, the moon reaches its highest point.
This is when it shines brightest giving both the cheetahs and Jamie's camera more light.
- It's when a hunt is most likely.
- [zebras braying softly.]
[soft purring growl.]
Coordination is key.
One wrong turn of the car or camera, and they could miss the crucial moment.
Okay, go, Baz, a bit quicker.
The five cheetahs have split.
One has actually split from the group.
- Are the others running or not? - No, they're still they're still - [Jamie.]
Stay with this guy.
- We can only see the one now.
Slow, slow, slow.
Okay, we're a bit too close.
Yeah, that's good.
Stay at that speed.
He's chasing after the wildebeest.
- [animals snorting, bellowing.]
- [Jamie.]
Left, left, left.
Yeah, he's going, he's going, he's going.
Right, right, right.
Right, right.
Go straight.
- Right.
Oh, he's going for that zebra.
- [zebra braying.]
- It's given up.
- [Femke.]
Very optimistic.
I mean, he's by himself, and he's going for a full-grown zeb.
Although this hunt was unsuccessful, Femke's thrilled.
So, for me as a researcher, this is really exciting, because one of the things that I've found is that cheetahs are actually very active at night, but all of this was based on data from collars.
So, a lot of researchers questioned that, because it went against everything that people had been saying.
So to be able to see now how active they are with the use of these cameras, backs up, um, my research.
It's a world first for Night on Earth changing the way scientists view these iconic cats.
But even this camera couldn't penetrate some of the darkest places on Earth.
[bugs chirring.]
Shooting nightlife in the treetops would take more imaginative solutions.
In the Chaco forests of Northern Argentina [electronic beeps.]
[mosquitoes buzzing.]
the crew must contend with a plague of mosquitoes summer floods [animal sounds echo.]
and a tiny subject in a labyrinth of leaves and branches.
Thankfully, they have expert help.
[overlapping animal calls in distance.]
For over 20 years, scientists from The Owl Monkey Project have been studying these little primates [indistinct chatter in Spanish.]
and have fitted some with radio trackers.
But despite two decades of data, the researchers have never captured the nocturnal lives of their subjects on video.
So they're keen to put our crew in the best spot to film them.
[man whispering.]
We've got a family of owl monkeys sleeping.
This time of day, it's hot.
I mean, it's well in the mid-40s degrees Celsius.
Humidity is about 95, 100%.
And they're just doing what any intelligent primate would do in this weather, unlike us.
They're just flaked out, draped over a branch.
They look like a bunch of beanbags with tails.
It's pretty cool.
To get eye-to-eye with these monkeys, James will have to raise his game.
Our secret weapon is a scaffold tower, which I can use to gain a bit of elevation and get up on a level with the monkeys in order to film them in their habitat, rather than simply trying to get an angle on them from the ground.
Having guided him to a prime spot in owl monkey territory, the scientists help James assemble the tower.
James will spend every night up here for the next few weeks.
- [mosquitoes buzzing.]
- [nearby animal chirps, calls.]
I can't see anything around me at all.
But luckily, this camera is sensitive to infrared light, which is non-visible to, uh, the human eye.
So we've got infrared lights set up - in the center of the territory.
- [radio chirps.]
Emilio, can we go ahead and turn the infrared lights on, please? - [radio chirps.]
- [Emilio.]
Roger that, James.
- Here we go.
- [radio chirps.]
Okay, James - on now.
- [radio chirps.]
And then there was light.
Look at that.
Absolutely incredible.
Crucially, infrared light is also invisible to the monkeys, so when they come to these trees, they'll behave as normal.
We'll be up here now for the next six or seven hours.
So fingers crossed.
Hope springs eternal.
On the other side of the world, a different challenge in the jungles of Borneo.
[electronic beeps.]
[animals calling, bugs chirring.]
The biggest trees here can be five times taller than those facing James in Argentina.
Camerawoman Justine Evans will need to climb into the canopy to see what goes on up there after dark something that has rarely been studied.
[animals chittering, birds tweeting.]
Naturalists Denny Aloysius and Cede Prudente find her a suitable tree.
- It's got a lot of epiphytes up top.
- Yeah.
I think the main trunk - [Justine.]
Are they okay to climb? - [Denny.]
And that looks over which way? That valley over there.
From its strong straight trunk, she'll have a view directly across to an enormous fruiting fig tree.
[animals calling.]
Next, climbing experts Tim Fogg and Gibby Madran must set up a filming platform over ten stories high.
We've decided where we want to put the platform.
Now we have to get a line up into the tree, so Gibby's just organizing a great big catapult.
This is a big lump of lead that's going flying up into the tree.
It takes a strong arm a good aim [Tim.]
Oh, well short.
and perseverance.
- Yeah, yeah! - [Tim.]
Argh! Hit the bottom of the branch.
In the hole! Go, go, go, go, go! Yes! [Tim.]
With the ropes in place, they winch up the platform.
Once Tim is happy it's secure it's Justine's turn.
Just starting the first climb up a very large dipterocarp tree that emerges out of the forest.
Probably about 30 meters to the platform position.
[overlapping chirps, animal calls.]
[birds twittering.]
It's an absolutely amazing view from up here.
[overlapping bug, animal sounds.]
Though it's hard work getting up on the ropes, it's such a relief to be up when you've got the view, and the breeze, and just this idea that good things are gonna happen.
It's a long way down.
Gonna stay attached to the ropes at all times, I think.
Don't want to be nodding off and find myself flopping off the platform in the middle of the night.
[birds calling.]
Infrared lights aren't strong enough to illuminate such giant trees, so Justine's using the thermal imaging camera.
If there's anything that's got warm blood out there, I'll see it.
You can probably hear it ticking over.
It's not a quiet camera.
[camera whirring.]
With the forest now in total darkness, it's not long before something shows up.
Looks to me like a civet.
First visitor to the fig.
It's absolutely gorging on the fruit, and it's got the whole tree to itself at the moment.
But once the civet leaves, the night wears on without any action.
It's nearly two o'clock in the morning, and things are very quiet now.
The hard thing about night work is getting to the wee hours when your body really is craving sleep.
So it's sort of keeping the stimulus going which means I'll probably make another cup of tea.
[bugs chirring.]
In Argentina those furry beanbags have been giving James the runaround.
It's a real challenge.
It's not easy.
These monkeys spend most of the time during the day just hanging out, sleeping, but nighttime they just become these climbing maniacs, and they whizz around the canopy like nothing else I've seen at nighttime.
It's like trying to follow an Olympic sprinter through a three-dimensional climbing course.
They're really tough to film.
[overlapping animal chirps, calls.]
It's not just the owl monkeys - making life difficult.
- [high-pitched buzzing.]
There are more mosquitoes here than I think I've seen anywhere else.
So every single shot is, uh I reckon we've donated a thimbleful of blood and about a pint of sweat.
[chuckles softly.]
But what makes it all worthwhile is when you do finally catch a glimpse of these little guys.
Without this special camera, which can see beyond what the human eye can see you know, we wouldn't stand a chance.
I mean, scientists here have been studying these monkeys for well over 20 years, and even they haven't actually had this opportunity to look into the nocturnal life of these monkeys the way we are, so it's a real privilege.
[bugs chirring.]
Back in Borneo, Justine's also having problems with pest control.
Yep, there's a load of them.
There's a load of them.
I've been trying to stop ants crawling all over the place.
All over my bags, me, the platform, the camera.
It's a war of attrition, though.
I mean, I think they're winning.
It's It's slightly freaking me out.
Despite the distractions, after many long nights, Justine's starting to see more life in the treetops.
Civets marking their territory.
Flying squirrels.
[leaves rustle.]
- And then - What on Earth is that? her camera reveals something truly astonishing.
I don't believe it.
Next morning, without giving anything away, she shows the footage to Denny and Cede.
What's that? [Cede.]
What is that? It's Is that what I think it is? - It's an orangutan.
- It's an orangutan.
What What time did you take this shot? - [Justine.]
Around midnight.
- [Denny.]
I've been taking wildlife photographs for 30 years.
No one that I knew, that has told me, or I encountered in any reports that orangutans would feed at night.
- [Justine.]
- [Denny.]
And it's my first time I saw in this picture here.
I'm quite shocked.
This is an amazing - Discovery.
- discovery.
[bugs chirring.]
From the extreme darkness of the jungle to the city, ablaze with light around the clock.
[horns honking.]
For animals living amongst us, this artificial brightness has a huge impact.
[macaques chittering.]
To discover how urban light pollution affects animals, our crew traveled to Thailand and the city of Lopburi [electronic beeps.]
where long-tailed macaques live in the heart of town.
[horns honking.]
So it's our first full day in Thailand, and we're out recceing to find the best spots to film macaques, but seemingly we won't have a problem because they're absolutely everywhere.
[people chattering indistinctly.]
It's not long before cameraman Ian Llewellyn finds himself in trouble.
He's gonna get my glasses or my hat.
It's quite nice in a way, but I know in a minute he's gonna get my hat.
Is he biting it? Feels like he's nibbling it.
[macaques chittering.]
Oh, that was interesting.
I literally sat down for like one second, and I had one on my back.
And, um, it's gonna make filming on the streets interesting, 'cause I think I'm gonna get absolutely nailed.
[siren wails in distance.]
[horns honking.]
In the wild, macaques would be going to bed, - but the city never sleeps.
- [chittering.]
[overlapping squeaks.]
This is what the crew are here for, but filming is as tricky as Ian suspected.
Close-ups are good, but not that close.
The head bounce is a favorite, and makes it hard to hold a steady shot.
Without warning, things take a more serious turn.
- [siren wailing nearby.]
- [all screeching.]
- [Ian.]
Aah! - [ambulance siren wailing.]
Filming's over for tonight.
So, nothing really to worry about, but, um, I got bit by one of the smaller monkeys whilst we were filming.
Um Kind of an occupational hazard.
It's not a bad bite, but it has the puncture has gone into the bloodstream, so just to be doubly safe, I'm getting top-up rabies shots.
- Okay, done.
We done.
- [Ian.]
Thank you.
The macaques thrive on daily gifts of food.
[macaques chittering.]
Buddhists believe kindness to animals brings good karma and monkeys are linked with deities.
But just because everyone respects them doesn't mean everyone loves them.
[in Thai.]
I keep scaring the monkeys away with this otherwise they damage the cars.
Normally we pretend to scare them away and they're gone.
For me, some can be very annoying.
I'm scared a bit.
I'm not scared of them.
They only grab stuff from people who are scared of them.
I'm scared.
[all laugh.]
Outsiders like me are a bit scared of being bitten.
They don't normally bite but they jump on you.
Despite occasional misgivings, locals and macaques have learned to get along.
[man in Thai.]
Fighting with monkeys? No, we are friends.
Over time, Ian and Jo also come to a kind of truce with their subjects [screeching, chittering.]
allowing them to capture the highs and the lows of their urban lifestyle.
Around the world, as our urban jungles grow, living alongside wildlife is something humans must get used to.
[squeaking, chittering.]
Away from the relative comfort of cities - some crews went to extremes - [wind whistling.]
facing punishing weather and sub-zero temperatures.
But endurance and determination [squeaks.]
brought awesome results.
[wind blowing.]
Deep inside the Arctic Circle lie the remote islands of Svalbard.
[electronic beeps.]
Here, the team's mission is to film polar bears during the long, harsh northern night.
Expedition guide Tom Foreman and director and cameraman Mateo Willis fine-tune the low-light camera.
Preparation is key.
On the ice, in the dark, help is a long way off.
Tom's experience is vital.
He knows the area and how to survive the brutal conditions.
They're ready for the long journey.
[engine revving.]
With just an hour to go, bad luck strikes.
[engine stops.]
This is broken down.
This is our lead snow machine, and it's now completely not working.
Conditions for tackling breakdown repairs don't get much worse.
It does not want to work, so, uh, unfortunately, I think we have to leave it here.
We'll get on the sat phone to our support back in Longyearbyen, and hopefully they can get it repaired.
[engine starts, revving.]
Eleven hours after setting out, they arrive, exhausted, at their field base.
Pyramiden, a former Soviet mining colony, is now a frozen ghost town with just a single habitable building.
[wind whistling.]
This eerie place gets them as close as possible to the sea ice where polar bears will be hunting.
But as nights and days pass, the bears remain elusive.
They're hard enough to spot at the best of times.
In the dark of night, it seems almost inconceivable.
I try to be optimistic about these things, but a white polar bear in a white landscape Look at it.
[sighs heavily.]
Tracking down well-camouflaged predators is a common theme.
In southern Chile's - Torres del Paine National Park - [electronic beeps.]
the rugged mountains are a stronghold for pumas.
Searching these sweeping landscapes is no easy task.
Thankfully, our crew can rely on the tracking skills of Nico Lagos, puma expert extraordinaire.
It's not long before Nico comes up trumps.
Stop, James.
There is a puma over there, lying on the grass.
- Can you see it? - [James.]
It's insane, I can't see it.
You can only see the ears and the head.
- [James.]
Oh, I got it.
- [Nico.]
There, on the grasses.
- [James.]
No way.
- [Nico.]
She knows that we are here, but she's very calm.
Nico, just out of nowhere, just found a puma.
It looked like a rock.
I have no idea how he saw it.
I suppose that's what seven years of tracking gives you.
From her appearance, Nico is convinced she's suckling cubs and must have a den nearby.
But as dusk approaches, they lose sight of her.
So they return at dawn with camera at the ready and settle in to wait.
If we're really, really lucky, maybe we will find the den with the cubs.
This never happened to me before.
This would be my first time, so it would be amazing.
[Nico whispers.]
Pete, Pete.
It's just there.
[soft purring snarl.]
[high-pitched squeaking.]
[squeaks continue.]
[Nico whispers.]
There are the cubs calling.
That's the cubs.
There's the female.
Oh, my God.
Finally, we have this female.
- You hear? - [high-pitched squeaks.]
There, the cubs are calling.
[low answering call.]
[Nico whispers.]
And the mother is answering as well.
[high squeaks continue.]
[man whispers.]
It's pretty incredible.
You can see You can just make out in the bushes these tiny little cubs.
[cubs continue squeaking.]
It appears that they've still got spots, so they must be pretty young.
To film puma cubs this young is exceptionally rare.
But they didn't come here to film cats in the daytime.
They need to follow them after dark.
[cubs continue squeaking.]
[wind whistling.]
In Svalbard, the crew's making little progress.
It's a relentless search, back and forth across the sea ice.
Some nights are written off entirely.
But finally, they catch a break.
[bear grunts.]
There's the mother and the two cubs looking for seal lairs in tidal ice cracks along here.
You can't imagine how difficult it must be for a polar bear to bring up two cubs in an environment like this.
I have complete respect for what she does.
To my eyes, I look around here, and there's nothing.
It's just a frozen wasteland.
But to a polar bear, this is bounty time.
This is when they can find the seals.
It needs this sea ice as much as as we need our supermarkets.
[wind whistling.]
Now that they've found bears, the hard work really begins.
At a respectful distance, they must stick with the family around the clock.
The team in Chile uses the same tactic with the pumas following them by day [camera whirring.]
and by night.
Get the lights, Pete.
- [bugs chirring.]
- [cubs squeaking.]
[playful growling.]
Filming from a vehicle keeps cameraman Luke Barnett mobile Okay, left hand down a bit.
and discreet.
Cat's coming back.
It's coming back.
Okay, I'm gonna cover up.
I don't want the cat to see me staring straight back out, so I've covered my face up.
But when they do lose sight of the pumas, they have some new technology to put to the test.
It's possibly the first time this thermal camera's been put on the drone.
The camera's designed for use in a science lab.
Pete had to devise a special rig just to attach it to the drone.
Let's get this thing in the air.
And it's temperamental.
Sometimes, a simple loose wire - means he's flying blind.
- [radio static.]
But when it works, it opens up a new perspective on the mountains at night.
There's actually a herd of guanaco right in front of me.
I mean, you'd never know.
You can't see a thing, other than through the camera.
And a thermal image allows them to pick out the puma regardless of its camouflage.
[bugs chirring.]
With cameras in the air and on the ground, the crew get to know the mother and cubs [soft squeaking.]
- and capture their struggles - [cries.]
[snarling, growling.]
- and tender nature in the dark.
- [cubs squeaking.]
That's amazing.
She really needed to feed, so that's amazing.
- Those cubs will grow nice and fast.
- [cubs squeaking.]
Day is finally dawning after the long Arctic night, and the Svalbard team's persistence also pays off.
I tell you what, I think my heart is still thumping away inside my chest.
I could just feel my body vibrating like this with the suspense.
- [chuckling.]
- Aah.
And what was amazing is, is that at some point, the the young ones are out in front.
And she obviously spotted the seal that she wanted to go for and she must've given some command or something, - 'cause they just sat down.
- [Tom.]
And she was the one that went into hunting mode.
She was like, "Right, kids, leave it up to me.
I'm gonna go and get us lunch.
" You're always conflicted when you witness an event like that.
On the one hand, you feel this incredible sympathy for the animal that's just been caught and hunted and on the other hand, you know that for that polar bear family to survive, this was an absolute necessity.
[seagull calling nearby.]
Exhausted, cold, but elated, the team use the short daylight hours to return to civilization.
Nights on the ice belong to the bears.
- [seagulls calling nearby.]
- [bear grunting.]
[wind whistling.]
Our camera crews also faced the challenge of filming the night under the water to reveal amazing stories hidden in the darkness of the deep.
Off the Pacific islands of Palau, the spawning of bumphead parrotfish takes place only at new moon, when the nights are darkest.
So, once the crew entered the water the glow of underwater torches was their only source of light.
Just before dawn, hundreds of fish gathered [man.]
That was very nice.
They are all around you, so it's beautiful.
and filmed the courtship display as it's never been seen before.
You almost don't know where to look at.
Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.
Like fireworks everywhere.
In South Africa's Mossel Bay, regular diving is prohibited.
And with good reason.
It's home to fearsome hunters.
Tricky work, especially in the dark.
It's a bit of a nightmare, 'cause you don't see the shark until the last minute.
So the cameraman entered the water inside a shark-proof cage.
With just a little light filtering down, only specialist cameras could pierce the gloom to see great white sharks in their element.
But perhaps the greatest challenge of all meant braving the icy waters - of Norway's Arctic fjords.
- [electronic beeps.]
Cameraman Mark Sharman prepares to come face-to-face with one of the planet's biggest predators.
At more than twice the size of a great white, killer whales are smart, powerful, and deadly.
The search begins.
First they need a fishing boat preparing to haul its nets.
[birds calling.]
[drone whirring.]
We're waiting for all the fishing boats to put their nets out, draw in their catch.
When they do that, that's what attracts the whales, that's when we're gonna go into the water.
But until then, we put the drone in the air and get some awesome shots.
[birds calling.]
Oh, there's something big in the water.
Look, you can see them coming in, the ripples, here.
And it's so flat you can see them coming in for miles.
I'm sure these are killer whales coming in.
Okay, guys, we've got whales coming in.
This is a prime example of what we're here to film.
- The nets are being drawn in - Oh, look at that.
[Douglas chuckles.]
Nets are being drawn in, and that is the dinner bell for these animals.
The herring boat steams off with a full hold but others arrive to take its place.
It's clearly a rich fishing spot.
We're just moving through the darkness.
All of the fishing boats that we can see, they've all got their lights off.
That means they're a fishing boat.
They don't want to startle the fish.
So we're just waiting for one of them to switch those lights on.
That means they've been hauling in their catch.
This fishing boat's got its lights on, and, uh, we're just gonna scan for orcas to see if they're here now.
[indistinct chatter.]
They are.
I can see one.
So, the next thing to do is just to ask permission from the captain.
We just need permission to go in.
Oh, wait, wait.
Conditions seemed perfect, but news of an approaching storm forces a change of plan.
The weather has turned really dramatically and is heading straight for us, so we're racing back now to try and just get back into safe waters before this thing hits us, 'cause it really does not look good.
By the time they reach the harbor, it's a full-blown storm.
- [wind whistling.]
- [limbs creaking.]
The morning brings no respite.
Well, as you can see, the conditions haven't improved.
In fact, they've just got worse.
The wind speed has doubled, the wave size has doubled, and it just means that we are gonna be stuck here for the foreseeable.
Unfortunately, the storm's not going anywhere.
It's a whole week before it breaks.
Dusk falls, and the calm seems to be holding.
The storm may have passed but the weather is hardly pleasant.
At the moment, it's about minus two degrees outside.
It's really heavy snow, the water's really cold.
The last thing you want to do is even be outside, let alone drop into that inky blackness, and get in the water with some huge predators.
But, sometimes, you've gotta roll your sleeves up and get stuck in there.
Then, the lights come on [birds calling.]
the nets begin to tighten, and right on cue the killer whales cruise in.
The time has finally come.
I'm probably most worried about the industrial fishing activity, to be honest.
They're here to do their job.
Uh, there's big, heavy machinery, they're not gonna really be looking at me.
These are unpredictable animals, so I'm gonna be wary of them, but let's just give it a shot.
It's cold, it's dark, - it's dangerous.
- [birds squawking.]
But the results are spectacular.
Oh, my God.
That was unbelievable.
That was one of the most intense things I've ever done.
I mean, right at the beginning, there was a time where a couple of them looked up at me and thought, "What the hell is that?" And luckily they're not sharks, and they don't sense by biting into things, so they didn't take a nibble out of me to find out what I was.
And they just carry on behaving naturally, and that's the best position to be in.
And it's just so weird, like all the sort of dying herring just all around you, so you're just being bumped with all these struggling fish on the surface.
It's a really creepy scene.
The scales, that's all I can see.
Just the water, just lit up.
Just looks like some sort of '70s disco ball.
Everything is glowing and glistening, and they've got these massive mammals just swimming around, picking out all these fish.
I've never seen anything like it.
What an experience.
[slurs slightly.]
My face is numb, I can barely speak properly.
I can't feel a thi at all.
But I don't care, I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life.
That was unbelievable.
Another success, against the odds, and more revelatory footage to illuminate night on Earth.
[instrumental music plays.]

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