Why Netflix’s “Our Planet” Series is a Must-Watch

Embark on a virtual odyssey with David Attenborough and learn more about the world’s astonishing biodiversity from the comfort of your couch.

A kingfisher catches its meal in the opening sequence of Our Planet’s episode on fresh water.

Seeking inspiration for your next wildlife adventure while staying at home? You’re in luck. Netflix has recently uploaded Our Planet, an Emmy Award–winning nature documentary series, to its YouTube channel so anyone can watch it for free. Narrated by none other than David Attenborough, Our Planet’s eight full-length episodes take viewers through a broad sweep of habitats including coastal seas, forests, jungles, deserts and grasslands, and the frozen ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic. The combination of awe-inspiring cinematography and a dynamic original score makes for riveting entertainment any day of the week.

Silverback Films, which was behind the BBC documentary series Planet Earth, collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to produce this original content for Netflix. The astounding camera work was shot over a four-year period, giving audiences virtual encounters with animals great and small. You’ll see rare footage of a Siberian tiger in Kamchatka, admire the wildebeest migration across the Serengeti plains both from the air and ground level; and witness great flock of seabirds dive-bombing to catch fish in the seas off the Peruvian coast. Much attention is paid to the minute details, with cameras placed inside a nest of leaf-cutter ants in Brazil and even the pitcher of a carnivorous Nepenthes gracilis plant in Borneo.

African forest elephants frolicking in a swampy clearing, as seen in the Jungles episode.

Despite the many humorous moments there is a serious message: across the world, nature is under grave threat because of human activity and accelerating climate change. Widespread deforestation for palm oil plantations on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has left precious few pockets of lowland jungles for the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. In East Africa, the effects of mankind’s increasing demand for fresh water is evident as rivers dry up completely during periods of drought, much to the detriment of elephants, lions, buffalo, and hippos that depend on them for their survival. Attenborough does not shy away from highlighting some sobering statistics, like the fact that one-third of global fish stocks have collapsed due to unsustainable practices by large-scale industrial fisheries concerned only with profit.

Our Planet makes it clear why we must protect the wildlife and natural habitats we have left, and preserve the hidden connections between biomes that may be thousands of kilometers apart. Attenborough explains how the Amazon rain forest releases immense amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere, where it condenses into clouds and becomes a key source of rain for the Pantanal wetlands far to the south and even Iguazu Falls. We also learn about the importance of top predators in the open oceans: whales, sharks, dolphins, and tuna all play a part in maintaining the natural balance of the ecosystem. Ultimately, there is hope in the resilience of our planet’s flora and fauna—that nature can and will recover if we give it the chance.

Click here to watch Our Planet’s full episodes on YouTube.

An oceangoing manta ray at the reefs of Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago.

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