Sea turtles are natural swimmers – but incredible footage from Bear Grylls’ new nature series shows a female turtle almost drown to death.
Hostile Planet, the cinematic new series from National Geographic , features incredible scenes revealing what happens when mating turtles are interrupted by another male, who just won’t take no for an answer.
And when even more lusty males turn up – things take a sinister turn and the female begins to drown.
Nipping at the mounting male’s soft flesh the interlopers try to force him to let go of his mate.
He clings on, but in doing so, the female is unable to resurface. She thrashes in vain but sinks lower and quickly begins to run out of oxygen.
Bear explains: “The fiercer the pursuit, the more oxygen she burns. A stressed turtle can drown in minutes. She is desperate to reach the surface and breath but one challenger just won’t give up.
''The female is running on empty.”
This incredible footage was captured by divers who spent up to six hours at a time filming under water.
The second episode of Hostile Planet explores how harsh life is in our vibrant oceans, revealing the incredible survival stories of olive ridley turtles, how seals team up to fight off hungry sharks, and how ingenious orcas keep one step ahead of the competition.
Hostile Planet cameraman Mateo Willis explained how special dive equipment lets the divers stay under water without breathing out loud oxygen bubbles.
He said: “No turtle costumes were used, but instead of breathing air in a normal tank which releases a lot of gas and makes noises as the air bubbles go up to the surface, they will use rebreathers which recirculates the air and scrubs the carbon dioxide out of it, replacing it with oxygen.
''They hardly make any noise because they’re not making a stream of bubbles. It’s amazing how much more natural animals will behave around divers using rebreathers.”
The divers spend around a month diving every day, filming the turtles in their natural surroundings. Olive ridley turtles are creatures of habit and Bear tracked mating pairs down by using past locations and talking to locals.
Mateo said: “When you’re in the ocean you have the added complication you are dealing with the weather.
''You need to have the right conditions to get in the water – you need calm and enough sunlight. The divers would stay in a particular area.
''The area might be a particular point on a coral reef or where currents meet or from past history or talking to the locals. The divers spend several hours at a time under the water. It takes a very special sort of person to be a dive camera man.”
Filming the series is a labour of love. For every minute of footage aired, another 800 have been left on the cutting room floor.
Mateo said: “We have a ratio of 800 to one. It took three years to film.”
The landmark series covers the world’s most brutal environments taking in mountains, grasslands, jungles, deserts, and finally, the north and south poles, revealing the incredible lengths Earth’s creatures must go to just to survive.
Hostile Planet continues on National Geographic on Sunday, May 5 at 9pm.
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