Is the female Giant Pacific Octopus the epitome of sacrificial love? Discovery Channel crew have captured underwater scenes that bring out the creature's commitment to its unborn young. It shows a 14-foot-long octopus looking for an inconspicuous and safe place where she can spend the rest of her life, which is just six months.
Having settled into a den, away from the prying eyes and feelers of predators, she lays her fertilised eggs — one lakh of them — and patiently attends to the task of oxygenating and guarding them. As she does not leave the den even once, she is overwhelmed by starvation. But, the emaciated octopus sticks to her duty. As a last act of motherly love, she blows water over the eggs and helps them hatch. After sending thousands of octopuses into the sea, she dies.
This episode figures in a new 10-part series called “Life”, premiering on Discovery Channel on May 24, and telecast till June 6 (every night at 8 p.m.). Following this, the series will be aired again every Saturday at 8 p.m., starting from June 12.
In Chennai for the launch of the series, Rahul Johri, senior vice-president and general manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said the series was shot across all continents and took 3,000 days of shooting. A geo-stationary ‘Yogi cam' was to used to negotiate the ‘bumpy movements' of the animals and produce ‘smooth' image sequences. While David Attenborough provides commentary for the international edition of “Life”, Oprah Winfrey lends her voice for the U.S. edition. The series also has commentaries in Tamil and Hindi.
In a peek show for the media, extracts from the international edition were played. The high-definition images, accompanied by lucid descriptions in Attenborough's mesmerising voice, string together strange and marvellous animal behaviour.
Brown-tufted capuchins in Brazil wage a “war of attrition” against palm nuts. After removing the husks off the nuts, the capuchins leave them on the ground to dry. In an ingeniousness that matches the skills of Stone Age humans, the monkeys break the crispy nuts with boulders and eat the kernels.
In Madagascar, a praying mantis is outwitted, rather ‘out-tongued', by a chameleon. The images show how a chameleon darts out its giant tongue and captures a praying mantis frozen in a pose of devotion, metres away.
In Antarctica, the crab-eating seals are safe on floating pieces of ice. The moment they dive into the water, they are exposed to the worst danger — shark attacks. The sharks hunt in groups, encircling a seal before getting it. The seals know to dodge the sharks and swim back to safety. A cornered seal uses a floating ice as defence and dodges the sharks successfully. The frustrated predators give up the hunt after numerous determined sorties.