Here’s something to watch this week — Nature: Invasion of the Killer Whales, which will air at 8pm on Wednesday (November 19th) on PBS. The film is a fascinating documentary about how the change in the Arctic is causing a shift in power at the top of the world. The polar bears have been the top predator in the North for a long time. But now Killer Whales have invaded their turf. I enjoyed watching Invasion of the Killer Whales and I think this is something most parents will like too. The documentary isn’t funny or full of action, but I think many kids will find the film interesting. And it’s definitely educational. Dads and moms will appreciate that. If you miss Nature: Invasion of the Killer Whales this week, you can purchase the DVD or watch the film online in the near future.
The big change in the Arctic is the loss of ice. Every summer, there is less and less ice in the North. Polar bears need ice to hunt. While polar bears can swim huge distances, they are not skill hunters in the water. On the other hand, killer whales are great hunters in open water. In the past, killer whales’ reach in the North was limited because they could not hunt in the Arctic ocean locked in ice. But as more solid ice turns into water, polar bears struggle to survive while the now open ocean provides bountiful new hunting grounds for killer whales (also known as orcas).
The documentary follows an expedition to satellite tag and track killer whales launched by Steve Ferguson, a marine biologist at Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, whose 2012 study first reported the killer whales’ arrival so far north. A group of 20 tagged killer whales traveling at fairly rapid speed is followed as they head straight toward the summer nursery grounds of a pod of narwhal and their young. According to the documentary, the science team and film crew were stunned when they arrived to see the killer whales lunging at the beach, pinning the entire pod of narwhal in shallow water before devouring them all. The orca are organized and ruthless, and stop at nothing. Even bowhead whales, twice the length of killer whales, are a target, especially mothers and their young. Their only recourse is to hide in the sea ice close to the shoreline, where the orca cannot follow.
Invasion of the Killer Whales includes interviews with Inuit hunters who have seen and even filmed killer whales attacking narwhal. Inuits were the first to witness the arrival of killer whales in the rich Arctic hunting grounds and some feel the herding strategy the whales use to attack the narwhal have in fact made their job easier. But scientists caution that with killer whales going after the same food sources as the Inuit, their way of life could undergo a change in the future.
Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Invasion of the Killer Whales is a production of Terra Mater Factual Studios and Brian Leith Productions in co-production with NDR Naturfilm/Doclights and THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Estate of Elizabeth A. Vernon, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Susan Malloy and the Sun Hill Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the nation’s public television stations.
[Disclosure: I received a screener for review purposes. As always, the opinions expressed are mine and I am not obligated to write a positive review.]