Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blue Planet - Frozen Seas

This evening I was able to delve into the 2nd program of BBC's The Blue Planet: Seas of Life called Frozen Seas. Be prepared for a tighter episode than the introductory program of Ocean World, and I mean that as a good thing. The theme is much easier to follow since, naturally, it focuses on the frozen portions of the ocean. The editors must have used an actual storyboard this time as it flows much better (no pun intended). Perhaps the most interesting term that is only used once though, is polynya, the natural formation of holes in sea ice. I misunderstood Sir Attenborough to pronounce it as 'polenta' and knew that had to be wrong. It took way longer than it should have to figure out what the word was supposed to be, so I have now taken the time to include a definition and an explanation of the process below for your reading pleasure!

Just for fun, let's review: the ARCTIC is the NORTH pole where you will find polar bears, belugas, and all sorts of charismatic macro-fauna. ANTARCTICA is the large, continental land mass at the SOUTH pole. Moms and Dads... you can explain to your munchkins that this is where Happy Feet would have taken place. One of my favorite points made in the film about going down south is how the food chain is masterfully based around krill, who in turn are eating algae off the pack ice. Now that footage is cool, especially when you consider these tiny creatures are facilitating a life cycle that includes huge whales. However, I do not recommend wearing "I like Krill" t-shirts, particularly if your body is on the heavier side or you are opening up for some pointing and giggling.

RATING: ~~~ (3 out of 5 waves) worth watching
NOTE: < ~~~~ if you are using this as a teaching tool; be sure to include it at the beginning of your unit as a fantastic introduction into the biology of both the Arctic and Antarctica>

I also went to the special features section of the DVD to see "the making of..." Ocean World (the 1st program in this series). THAT was a sweet surprise. It focused almost solely on the months of work it took to capture just a few minutes of usable footage that graced the beginning of the documentary. It really puts into perspective how dedicated the crews of documentary work truly are, and it also sheds light into how the BBC put $10million into the making of the entire series.

Wow... that is not exactly chump change, eh? Something to dwell on during tight economic times... how should money be spent? Personally, education and conservation remain fairly high on my list. How about yours?


Polynya or polynia is an technically an area of open water surrounded by sea ice. It is now used as geographical term for seas which remain unfrozen for much of the year. In Russion it means "a natural ice hole" (and haven't we all known a few of those). The term was eventually adopted to refer to navigable waters in both Arctic and Antarctic seas.

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