The definitive series of shark natural history, made on a scale never attempted before and revelatory in both content and photography.
This stunning series shows the enormous diversity of sharks around the world, featuring over 30 species of sharks and rays – from the previously unfilmed wobbegongs and Greenland sharks to classic species such as great whites and hammerheads.
It is a global series filmed in dozens of locations worldwide, ranging from under the polar ice to mangrove swamps, shipwrecks and coral reefs. There is even a shark that walks on the land!
The first programme concentrates on their adaptations to different environments that have enabled them to become such successful predators. Mako sharks are the kings of speed, whereas Greenland sharks can survive in freezing Arctic waters using only their sense of smell. Hundreds of blacktips work together to corral bait balls of fish, wobbegong sharks have lightning reactions to ambush their prey and whitetips have specialised senses to hunt in darkness. The climax of this episode shows the complete story of great white sharks hunting fur seals – filmed from underwater, in the air and in slow motion.
The second film looks at all the other aspects of shark behaviour. Mobula rays gather together in their thousands and jump through the air in spectacular courtship displays, while lemon sharks give birth to young which grow up in special nurseries in the mangroves. Great whites talk to each other with body language and grey reef sharks even have their own special dentist to check their teeth.
There has never been a better time to make this series thanks to breakthroughs in technology, research and a new generation of cameramen pioneering new approaches to underwater filming.
Sharks don’t have bones. Instead they have a skeleton-like structure made entirely out of cartilage, which is the flexible stuff at the tip of your nose.
The mako is the fastest shark in the world – think a torpedo with teeth. It can sprint at 30mph (48km/h), although some makos have reportedly been clocked at 46mph (72km/h).
The great white shark is the world’s largest known predatory fish. They can detect one drop of blood in 25 gallons (100 litres) of water and can sense even tiny amounts of blood in the water up to 3 miles (5km) away.
The shark family tree has two branches – the other half of the family are the rays, which are flattened sharks.
Around 40% of shark species lay eggs, which come in all shapes and sizes. Other species, like the lemon shark, give birth to live young, just like humans. And others use a combination of the two methods, where the eggs hatch inside the mother’s uterus before she gives birth to live young.
The giant manta ray has the biggest brain of any fish.
The goblin shark is a living fossil, virtually unchanged for over 100 million years.
The largest fish in the world is the whale shark. They can weigh up to 20 tonnes and live for up to 60 years. Despite their size they feed mainly on plankton, the tiniest creatures in the sea.
Sharks have adapted to live in every ocean of the world.
South African audiences have access to five BBC TV channels: BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Earth, CBeebies and BBC World News.