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Goal 14: Life Below Water
Incredible Nature Documentaries To Watch On Netflix
These must-see nature documentaries are a beautiful reminder to protect our precious life on earth
By Jessica Jurkschat and hannah rochell
10 JUNE 2021
Whether you’re an ocean advocate or passionate about protecting our Amazon and wildlife, there’s a documentary for that. From heartwarming friendships formed between man and nature to exposing the looming threat of the elephant trafficking industry, these documentaries offer breathtaking shots that we otherwise would never see. Whilst some are more serious than others, they all have an important message: we must protect our precious life on Earth. Here are the must-watch nature documentaries on Netflix now:
Kiss the Ground
Narrated by Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is a revolutionary view on how proper soil conservation can actually save us from climate change. It features science experts and celebrity activists (Jason Mraz, Patricia Arquette and Ian Somerhalder to name a few) as they shine a light on regenerative agriculture – an ethical practice to ‘farm like nature’ – that has the potential to balance our climate and restore the most barren landscapes. The documentary is hopeful and optimistic, a story about how if we save our soil, our soil can save us. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy humans, healthy water and healthy climate.
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet is an essential viewing. Another must watch by Sir David Attenborough, the film is an examination of the threat of Earth’s biodiversity collapse and how the crisis can still be prevented. It’s easy to follow and broken down into easy-to-understand sections like wildfires, coral reefs and the importance of tree planting. The film documents how much our planet has been abused and although it can be hard to watch at times, the documentary also highlights how much our actions impact our planet. And as long as we change course – small things like taking part in tree planting efforts, cutting back on red meat and moving towards a circular economy – there’s still hope.
My Octopus Teacher
My Octopus Teacher is a beautiful story of an unexpected friendship between an octopus and filmmaker Craig Foster. The film starts off with Craig setting out for daily dips in the ocean with the aim of connecting to nature without being intrusive of their environments. And it seems that there was one sea creature that was just as curious in the unknown. After nearly a year of observing, an octopus opens up to Craig, revealing not just emotional connections but also animal behaviours previously unknown to scientists. The documentary is a heartwarming reminder to take care of our oceans and not to take our relationships with nature for granted.
Seaspiracy is made by the same team as 2014’s Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, the documentary that many non-meat eaters cite as the moment they gave up beef and dairy. Directed and narrated by the British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, who is just 27 years old, it covers subjects including the importance of dolphin and whale biodiversity (some 300,000 of which are killed every year when caught unintentionally by fishing), slave labour in the prawn and shrimp industry, and possible corruption in labelling such as ‘Dolphin safe’.
For his first Netflix production, Sir David Attenborough teamed up with WWF and Silverback Films - the team behind Blue Planet - to make a groundbreaking series that took 4 years to film. While it’s Sir David that narrates it in English, it also features Salma Hayek for the Latin American version and Penelope Cruz for Spain.
But back to the nature; the eight part series shows the huge variety of life on Earth, with fantastic footage of everything from birds doing backflips to the now infamous scene featuring a walrus falling off a cliff. It focuses no only on the beauty of nature, but also devastating and urgent man-made threats to the environment.
The Ivory Game
With Leonardo DiCaprio as executive producer, this documentary shows how the ivory trade has, and in fact still is, posing a huge threat to these majestic animals. They could even be extinct within a few years, and all because of one country that has an insatiable appetite for ivory: China.
The film focuses on poachers in Africa, traffickers and criminal gangs to expose how as elephants become more endangered, they face an even greater threat as ivory becomes more and more rare and prices soar. This might not be a beautiful nature documentary, but its subject matter is vital.
BBC Planet Earth and Planet Earth II
Planet Earth was first shown on the BBC in 2006 and its sequel series, Planet Earth II, in 2016. Both documentaries have become classics and in a smart move by Netflix, are now available to stream. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the second series is also accompanied by a score by the Academy Award Winning film composer Hans Zimmer, which really elevates the whole thing to cinematic levels.
The films feature some of the most amazing moments in natural history, err, history, including the unforgettable plight of baby marine iguanas escaping (and sometimes not escaping) the jaws of deadly racer snakes on the island of Fernandina, and bears rubbing themselves on trees as if they were auditioning for The Jungle Book.
Filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this film follows four people fighting to protect Virunga National Park from the highly complex issues it faces, including war, poaching and the threat of oil exploration.
One of the four protagonists is Andre Bauma, who cares for mountain gorillas, the last of which in the world call this fragile place home. The film has won several awards and was nominated for an Oscar.
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