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Life on the Reef

Life on the Reef

  • Premiered: 
    July 22, 2015
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Animal
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

This three-part series explores The Great Barrier Reef, one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on Earth, which is home to a stunning array of animals -- from microscopic plankton to 100-ton whales. From the coral cays of the outer reef to the Islands of the Torres Strait, the reef's human residents work to find that critical balance between our needs and those of an ever-diminishing natural world. The first episode explores the Great Barrier Reef during Australia's tourist-heavy winter season. During this time, humpback whales make the long journey to calve in the warm tropical waters, while rescue crews respond to a human and environmental emergency in one of the most sensitive parts of the reef. On the most protected island in Australia, scientists work to save the biggest turtle rookery on Earth. The second episode transitions into spring, capturing the Great Barrier Reef as it is about to explode with new life. Divers descend into dark water in the hope of seeing the annual coral spawn, and manta rays enter the reef to filter-feed on the nutrient rich waters. Thousands of sea birds congregate on the islands and coral cays to nest, while in the mangroves, saltwater crocodiles violently defend their eggs. In the far north, rangers and scientists fight to control a potentially catastrophic plague of coral-eating crown of thorn starfish. The final episode follows the summer season on the Great Barrier Reef. Thousands of tiny turtles emerge from the sand and begin the struggle to survive. The human and animal residents prepare as a category five cyclone bears down on the North Queensland coast. Conservationists also fight against other threats to the marine wilderness, including shipping accidents and oil spills.
PBS premiered the finale of LIFE ON THE REEF on Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 8pm (check local listings). In the finale, the human and animal residents of the reef prepare as a category five cyclone brings destruction to the North Queensland coast. But as cyclone season finally gives way to calm seas of the dry, the reef begins to recover and thrive. From the mangroves to the coral cays reef fish populations flourish, and mysterious dwarf minke whales arrive to enjoy the warm tropical waters.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Northern Pictures


  • - Australia