Thursday, September 27, 2018

Another world

“Wild Pacific” (also called “South Pacific” in some jurisdictions) is a fascinating documentary series about animal and plant life in the South Pacific and Hawaii. New Guinea, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Polynesia are featured (including Easter Island).

If you like weird stuff, this is definitely for you! How about real footage of large sharks gathered to eat young albatrosses which are learning how to fly? Apparently an annual spectacle on a certain reef in the Pacific. Meanwhile on New Zealand, you can run into penguins in the forest. Another island features enormous crabs living in the palm trees. The poor cat Tibbles, who supposedly exterminated an entire species of songbird, is mentioned in one episode, although it seems feral cats had decimated the population of Lyall´s Wren already before his arrival at Stephens Island. Also featured are underwater volcanoes and above-water ones at Hawaii. Somewhat surprisingly, “Wild Pacific” promotes the idea that the culture at Easter Island might have been destroyed by rats.

One problem with this series is that most episodes tend to depict the Pacific as some kind of pristine paradise, which it definitely isn´t. This is particularly galling when discussing Hawaii, “the most isolated island chain in the world”. Yeah, except for Honolulu and the little detail that Hawaii is the 50th state of the Union! Nothing about the civil war at Bougainville, the near-civil war at New Caledonia, the nuclear tests at Mururoa, the military coup at Fiji, you get the picture. Instead, we are shown happy natives living in fundamental harmony with nature. Only in the last episode do we get some insight into the environmental problems besetting the region, such as overfishing, coral death and climate change threatening to wipe out entire island nations.

That being said, “Wild (or South) Pacific” is well worth watching, and I therefore give it five stars out of five. And yes, I´m still eating tuna…

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