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Wonders of The Celtic Deep - 4K

Duration: 4 x 60'

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In this landmark 4K series, four beautifully-crafted episodes, dive into the natural wonders of the Celtic seas – featuring some of the largest creatures of the deep ocean, birds that can ‘fly’ underwater, and the tiniest animals with the biggest personalities. 

Filmed over the course of a year by highly experienced underwater and top-side wildlife and documentary makers, these cinematic films bring to life an incredible secret world, populated by extraordinary inhabitants. With great story telling and incredible imagery, the series looks at stories of courtship, birth and the struggle for survival - a glorious celebration of life and renewal. 

'Wonders of the Celtic Deep' takes the audience on an exciting and revealing journey of discovery exploring stunning shores and estuaries, the bays and shallow waters of the wildlife “golden zone”, and the marine superhighway that is the deep ocean.  Unveiling the diversity and extraordinary characters of marine flora and fauna that inhabit this unique stretch of sea. 

The last episode pulls together the work being carried out by scientists and volunteers, exploring new science and investigating issues raised by the series - as marine biologists and conservationists attempt to stem a greater tide...the effect of man on this fragile marine world. 

The Celtic seas between Wales and Ireland are a rich marine and aquatic habitat of worldwide importance. Bordering three oceanic and climatic zones (North‐East Atlantic, Arctic Boreal, Lusitanian) and retaining a coastline with one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, this unique aquatic environment has one of the most diverse marine wildlife in Europe. 

Its shores are epic, its coast is wild and its seas contain riches to rival the tropics. 

Episode 1 - Coasts: Life on the Edge

The Celtic coastland is imbued with myth and mystery. The animals that live here are perfectly adapted to this rapidly changing and dramatic environment where the land and the ocean meet. 

In this episode we follow Atlantic grey seals through the year, from courtship, to pregnancy and birth. Will a curious snowy-white seal pup make it safely through to adulthood? 

High up on huge sea cliffs in Anglesey, we join a pair of guillemots, bringing up their single youngster on a narrow rock shelf. The parents must protect their chick from aerial attacks by predatory gulls. When old enough, will it safely make the heart-stopping and massive leap of faith, off the cliff edge and into the ocean? 

It’s mid-summer in Cardigan Bay and we are taken into the glorious and vocal world of playful and seductive bottle-nosed dolphins. The Teifi Estuary is full of bird life, but here a family of Shelducks must stay clear of a fox on the hunt for ducklings. In a rock pool in Fishguard as one of the largest tides of the year heads out, we join the antics of a little sea creature called a gobi. Remarkably this home loving fish can survive out of water…but only for a while. Will the tide return in time? And in Gower, which has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, oyster catchers show off their bill skills as they forage for seafood on the shoreline.  

Episode 2 - Shallow Seas: A Mythical Kingdom

The world of the shallow seas is one of the richest and most productive on earth, with an array of diverse wildlife habitats populated by a myriad of bizarre characters, seemingly straight from the pages of mythology. 

We journey into this strange environment - one that sits remarkably close to shore. In the giant kelp forest, we join a female catshark as she lays an egg deep in the forest floor. As voyeurs, we witness a tangled web of hermaphrodite sea hares taking part in a three-day ‘love-athon’. 

On the dramatic underwater cliffs off Pembrokeshire, we find the Great Barrier Reef of Wales, chocked with exotic gardens of sponges and soft corals. The alien-like predators on this rocky landscape include a rare spiny lobster and a large star fish, making a stealth attack on a hapless looking scallop with a surprise up his sleeve. 

Just beyond the beaches of Abersoch, an underwater desert stretches out to sea. With nowhere to hide, many marine inhabitants have found incredible ways to camouflage themselves from the visiting catshark. Meanwhile a gang of painted goby use extraordinary drum-like vocalisations to attract a female. 

In Anglesey, Arctic terns have arrived to breed. These elegant sea birds have the longest migration of any bird on earth. They spend the summer fishing in the shallows to feed their young. On the wreck of the SS Gwynfaen, we meet a range of colourful and exciting characters including a three-meter-long conger eel.

Episode 3 - The Deep: Into the Unknown 

The deep ocean that sits between the coast of Wales and Ireland acts as a marine superhighway for some of the greatest animals on earth. This is a journey into an unknown territory, that few people ever get to see. 

As the water starts to warm in the summer, marine giants arrive at the Celtic Deep. Some have travelled for thousands of miles to feast on plankton and abundant shoals of fish. 

Visitors include a group of fin whales. At twenty-five meters long, these majestic submarine-shaped creatures are the planet’s second largest animals. Joining them to hunt sardines are two-meter-long blue-finned tuna. These sensational super hunters have only recently returned to the Celtic Deep. 

Also heading into the fray are common dolphins. Fast-moving, super-intelligent marine mammals, they drive the hapless fish together and push them towards the surface, where they are easily picked off. These charismatic animals are also filmed displaying complex and exciting courtship behaviour. 

Other giants of the Celtic Deep, include the Basking shark, the second largest fish on earth, who fill their huge bodies with zoo plankton, opening their cavernous mouths to filter-feed their microscopic prey.  The beautiful blue shark, rarely seen, also predates these waters and is a true pelagic migratory species, travelling across the world’s oceans. Over three meters long, their beautiful blue colour is unique in the shark world.  

Episode 4 – Heroes of the Celtic Deep 

This final episode in the series, looks at some of the biggest challenges and issues facing the marine environment today. 

We meet the conservation heroes from across Wales, each doing their bit in many ways, to help marine conservation and promote the importance of the ocean. 

From fishermen sacrificing profits in return for sustainability and a plastic-waste campaigner who paddle boarded to raise awareness about the pollution of our oceans, to a group of underwater scuba-diving litter pickers and a surfer who uses the sea to help people with mental health issues. 

Many are also working directly to save marine wildlife, including a highly successful breeding programme to bring seahorses back to the waters and remarkable organisations rescuing Atlantic grey seals and stranded whales. 

When the tide goes out, one group of young enthusiasts undertakes important species counts on Welsh shores and another young marine biologist heads out to sea using a bait camera to film shark and other exciting species, which he records and then shares with the world via social media. 

We also join the remarkable, world-leading Welsh Seagrass Project, led by a passionate scientist who is trying to plant a million seeds in Dale in Pembrokeshire. Seagrass is hugely important marine environment. It acts as a nursery environment for animals and it stores huge amounts of carbon dioxide - but seagrass has been disappearing across the world, due to human activity. 

 

For BBC 1

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