Importance of Natural Resources

The Importance of Seaweed | Ocean Vet | S01 E10 | Free Documentary Nature


This is Doctor Neil Burnie. He lives in Bermuda, a stunning Atlantic Island
six hundred and forty miles east of North Carolina, USA.He’s spent the last thirty
years practicing veterinary medicine, but now he’s transferring his veterinary skills
to help save, protect, and learn more about the incredible marine life of Bermuda’s
Ocean. This is a completely wild shark. Alongside his dedicated Ocean Vet team, are
a number of scientists, Yeah, this and probably. marine biologists,
Just cut a little nick off the back fin. and specialist master divers, helping to perform
a number of unique and dangerous procedures, in a bid to safeguard critically important
marine species.Together, the team will be fitting satellite tags to huge tiger sharks,
saving precious green turtles, dissecting giant blue marlin, and obtaining unique toxin
samples from forty five tonne, migrating, humpback whales. Yay! Woo hoo!My knees are like jell-o. Yes, man! This is Bermuda! Home to Doctor Neil Burnie, the Ocean Vet. Sargassum seaweed is one of the most unique
plant species in the ocean. It gathers to form massive seaweed mats that
can reach tens of kilometres in size. Drifting in the open ocean, this golden rainforest
is key to life throughout the sargasso sea. So Bermuda is the only landmass located within
the sargasso sea. And here it is! The golden rainforest, the sargassum weed,
for which the sea is named. These seaweed rafts have a fundamental role,
they support an astonishing array of marine species, some of which are endemic to this
unique ecosystem. It provides the basis of a food chain and
habitat that is the cornerstone to all marine life found in the sargasso sea. I think i’ve got a sargassum fish! Get that whole patch there! In this episode, Neil, and the Ocean Vet team
are on a mission to explore this unique ecosystem. The team’s goal is to collect sargassum
species for a temporary exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium. The sargassum environment, even though everything
is small, it’s very predatory, and certain things will eat certain things if you put
them in the same tank, so we have to be aware of that. Neil, will also explore Bermuda’s Mangrove
swamps to observe it’s rich biodiversity, before heading out onto Bermuda’s iconic
coral platform to witness the maize of coral structures and stunning marine life. They will also complete a dive on, Argus Tower,
an old second world war listening station, twenty miles off the shore. Their goal is to learn how all of these environments
are connected. You grab the back, I’ll do the front. Be careful of the tag, because I have the
gloves. Finally, the team, will satellite tag and
release a wahoo. The Ocean Vet team wants to know more about
this specie’s long-range migrations. Out in the ocean, hiding in the weed, the
crazy little creature that you ever did see. If you get to find one you get to make a wish,
cos this is the magical sargassum fish! We’re going out today to collect the little
creatures that live in the sargassum weed. The craziest of all is the sargassum fish,
they make their living in there, and hopefully we’re going to find one, together with a
bunch of other creatures. We’re going out with the legendary collector,
Christopher Flook, who even has a seaweed named after him. We’ll talk about that, later. Chris Flook, aka, Flooky, really is a true
Island legend. He’s worked in and around the ocean on various
projects for years and was the Bermuda Aquarium’s, specialist collector. If it’s in the ocean, Chris, knows where
it is, and how to catch it! So, Chris Flook! Great to meet you man, what are we doing out
here today? We’re looking through some of the sargassum
mats that are coming through. Er, this is a really good time for the sargassum,
a lot of juvenile fish in it. We just gotta see what’s in it, and just
show what the true worth of it is, you know. This is floating gold, right here. Excellent! Hopefully think we can find a sargassum fish,
maybe? I hope so, yeah. That’ll be golden. On this mission to collect species and explore
the sargassum rafts, Neil, will have the support of his trusted Ocean Vet team. They actually don’t have that. Choy Aming, the series marine biologist, will
manage the samples; Andrew Kirkpatrick, will cover underwater filming operations; and Oscar
Duess, will be the team’s safety diver. On the back of the Ocean Vet boat, Choy, is
setting up the transport tanks for any animals collected. Ok, so what we’re doing here is just prepping
our little collection station at the back for the sargassum creatures that we are gonna
collect. So we’ve got various sized buckets for the
various sized creatures, and, er, even some really small things, and a couple of different
nets as well, so we can properly sort and examine our sargassum weed and all the little
creatures in it. Yeah, he’s floating a little too high. Over the course of this series, the Ocean
Vet team, have worked on projects designed to help save, protect, and understand more
about Bermuda’s incredible marine wildlife. These guys have been around for so long they
actually predate flowers on Planet Earth. This is a true living fossil, right here. The team’s focus on this seemingly insignificant
seaweed is born from an understanding that the sargassum ecosystem supports nearly all
of the wildlife that the team have worked with.Back on the boat, Neil, is heading out
with Chris, to start looking through the sargassum raft. So there are two particular classes of little
creatures that live in this sargassum; there are the transients, those are the baby dolphin
fish, the baby creatures that are gonna grow up in the protection of the sargassum and
then leave to go out and hunt in the open ocean; and then the second set are the endemics,
the only place they live is, here, amongst the shelter of this sargassum raft, and that’s
the community. We’re gonna look at both those different
types today.We got something in here. So Flooky’s seen something, what have we
got? Oh, nice. It’s, er. Oh, wicked, man! A sargassum pipefish. Pull that weed out. It’s actually a male. We’re gonna pull the weed out just to show
you this fish. It’s actually a male, cos it’s got, erm,
it’s gravid. It’s got, it looks like it’s got eggs. Now, how’s that for a statement. It’s a male, it’s gravid, cos it’s got
eggs. Flooky, can you just turn around and explain
that, why a gravid male fish has eggs. Well, just like with the seahorses, the, the
male actually holds the eggs, and, er, sort of incubates them, and they hatch out of the
male versus the female holding the eggs. Right. The advantage of that, I guess, in nature
would be that the fact that the male tends to be bigger and stronger, and has more of
a chance of actually getting the eggs to, to growth. To maturity. Yeah. So here he is, he looks almost like an eel. He’s got a long nose on him. He’s very slender, and he looks a little
bit like a cross between a seahorse and an eel. And basically what he eats is the little shrimps
and the little crabs out of the sargassum. So, they live their entire life in the sargassum
eating nothing but crab and shrimp. So, so we’re not gonna put him in a bucket
with anything small that he might eat on the way home, right? Exactly. Do you want to keep him in this one? Yep. It’s these tiny fish that start a food chain
that ends up supporting top ocean predators. But the seaweed’s importance to the ecosystem
goes much further than that. As fish on the coral platform spawn, the eggs
drift out into the ocean and hatch. Once they’re fish they find refuge inside
these rafts, then swim back to the reefs once they are capable of avoiding the bigger reef
predators. It’s fundamental as a food chain, but it’s
also fundamental to the life cycle of other fish that live in completely different habitats. No, there’s two fish, there’s two fish
on this plastic, right here. We’re gonna try and catch them right now! Catching these tiny fish is not as easy as
it sounds. Chris, decides to use a small sane net to
improve their chances. Success! We have all three of the fish that were hiding
under this piece of plastic trash. So you got a little old, maybe a fishing bin,
or something like that, an old tub that’s broken up and fallen over board. There’s so much allgy and stuff has grown
on this, erm, that it’s basically made, er, a floating house for these things. But it’s just a shame that it’s plastic
as opposed to, well opposed to the sargassum. Chris, has got him! There’s our first one. Oh, beautiful fish! Baby, juvenile rainbow runner. Look at that!This is almost like ‘lucky
dip,’ we get to plunge into here and you never know quite what you’re gonna find. Chris’s net technique has been a success. Neil and Chris now have several different
sargassum species ready for transfer to the Ocean Vet boat. So, i’m gonna give you these bigger specimens. Sure. Oh, yeah. Got some chubs, some little rainbows. That’s great! Then these guys are the pipefish. Oh, that’s a good sized pipefish. Excellent. So we’ll keep them in one of the, er, grey
tanks. Yeah. Choy moves the specimens into the transport
containers, where he has the first chance to have a look at what they have on board. Now, right here we’ve got a Bermuda chub,
that’s the small guy. You can see the polka dot pattern, they actually
don’t have that, typically, in the adult phase, and I believe that is an adaptation
to camouflaging, in terms of the sargassum when they are small and this size. When they get bigger they are a more uniformed
grey, traditionally. This is a small tripletail, and this guy here,
very interesting fish. This is a tiny one, this is, er, about the
smallest i’ve seen it, they can grow to nearly a foot. Also known as a leaf fish, erm, this guy will
occasionally, we might see their behaviour, he’ll come up and lie on his side and disguise
himself as a leaf. And he has a sort of patchy modelling colouring
through most of his life, and easily hides in the sargassum because, er, everything in
here designed to camouflage. So that’s a great little specimen. With the specimens on board, the team head
back to the Aquarium. Alright Flooky! We’ve got your exhibits! Right next to the first tank, Neil! Right.Triggerfish, in. Meet the sergeant majors. These different species are the basis of the
sargassum seaweed community. They form the backbone to the ecosystem found
within the sargasso sea. Just outside are some bigger species, Chris,
caught earlier. So, Flooky, what else have we got in here? Well, this is some of the stuff we got the
other day. And here, we’ve got, erm, scrawled filefish,
whitespot filefish, planehead filefish. Right. Juvenile almaco jacks. These are a bit too big to go with our small
guys, who we’ve got inside, cos they would certainly have a feast, right? Oh, Completely! We would come back in the morning and only
have these guys left. Yeah. But these are slightly bigger fish that are
found in the sargassum. And then of course there are predators that
would even eat these guys. So it’s gonna be a great exhibit, looking
forward to it! Completely. Before the team set up the exhibit they’ve
decided to explore some other habitats to see how they’re all connected. So we’re out here, thirty miles offshore,
and we’re located on, Argus Bank, it’s about one hundred and eighty feet deep, but
the cool thing is that there is a tower here. The US Navy blew this up over thirty years
ago, it was a submarine listening station, and they dropped it in the knowledge that
it would act as an artificial reef and accumulate a whole biodiversity of life here, and we’re
gonna go down and look at it, really exciting dive. Alright, you’re all set, bud! Go? Yep! Neil and the team descend down one hundred
feet to the top of Argus Tower. So this is the Argus Tower. It’s exactly how I expected it to be. We’re surrounded by pelagic species; we’ve
got barracuda, wahoo, and giant amber jack. What a fantastic biodiversity we have here! Many of the species, Neil, and the dive team
are watching, were once tiny juvenile fish that likely found shelter inside sargassum
rafts. It’s only because of habitats like the sargassum
that stunning ecosystems, like this, exist. It’s a stark reminder of how delicately
connected each marine habitat is to another. So now we are coming to the end of our dive,
the current’s starting to switch. It’s time for us to head back up to the
surface. It’s been a wicked dive! Absolutely phenomenal! Back on land, Neil, and the team are about
to take a closer look at some of the species they captured during their sargassum search. So, we’re at the Bermuda Aquarium with some
of the creatures that we captured during our recent trip to the sargassum raft. We’ve got some tremendous equipment here
to allow us to get up close and personal with these little guys as they hunt and feed within
the sargassum weed. While the team were diving, Argus Tower, Chris,
managed to find a tiny sargassum fish. This species is endemic to the weed and has
evolved perfect camouflage to feed on a variety of other fish. It’s this feeding behaviour, the team are
hoping to capture. The tension in this room could be cut like
a knife right now, everybody’s watching. He could be waiting for a headshot to get
to him. It’s a possibility. Yeah, that’s what I think he’s waiting
for. This little sargassum fish is holding himself
in position using his pectorals, just like he has two hands. I can see him moving up and down that branch
of the sargassum. Oh. It’s. Yep! He got him, he got him. That little sargassum fish just ingested that
chub, the little chub was probably two thirds of his own body length and yet he managed
to ingest him completely in less than a couple of seconds. Fascinating to watch! And now you can see the sargassum fish has
gone back into the weed and he’s sitting there distended. It’s like me eating, probably, eighty pounds
of food in one go. Outside, Choy, is preparing the temporary
exhibit and some of the children have started to arrive. So what a great opportunity we’ve got here. All these kids are absolutely fascinated by
the sargassum community, many of them had no idea what they’re living in the middle
of here in Bermuda, we’re the only seamount in the sargasso sea and this surrounds them
everyday. So as you look at all this weed and all these
organisms, what you don’t realise is that this stuff is so critically important for
Bermuda, because some of these little tiny fish that live in here; the sergeant majors,
they’ll actually end up on the reef out here, some of these triggerfish end up on
the reef out here, so this replenishes Bermuda’s reef system. Also, all these little shrimps and things
feed the reef fish as they come in here and then the mangroves swamp does the same thing,
in short, down at Hungry Bay. And the reef itself nurtures these small fish
just in the way the sargassum community, so it’s all intertwined for Bermuda, everything’s
vital to Bermuda’s health. And now for the health of these little guys,
what we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna load them up in buckets and we’re gonna take
them back out to sea. Swim free little guys! They’ve formed their own little school and
they’re heading back up into the weed where they all started. It’s just been a great adventure out here
in the sargasso sea! Back on the Island, Neil, and Kirkpatrick
are exploring Bermuda’s Mangrove swamps. So we’re here at a world heritage site,
this is Bermuda’s Hungry Bay Mangroves swamp. And we’re gonna explore how these roots
and this structure provides the same sort of support for small creatures that the coral
reef does and the sargassum weed community does. Cool, ready to go? Yeah ready to go, Drew. Alright, let’s get this gear in the water. The Mangroves are another unique habitat. Like the sargassum, they provide shelter and
food for a variety of different species. But even this border, between the ocean and
the land, has it’s connection with sargassum seaweed. The tides push sargassum in, and pull it back
out. In essence it’s like a protective highway
transporting species in and out of this habitat. So, here we see the sargassum raft has been
washed in and has blended in with the Mangroves.The sargassum brings in food for all these juvenile
fish and provides a safe route back out to the reefs. Bermuda has some of the most stunning coral
reef on the planet. It’s the most northerly coral reef ecosystem
in the world! The scale of this ecosystem, when you consider
how tiny the creatures are that make it, is astonishing! Over millions of years many species have evolved
in this gigantic underwater world, and many have built links with other habitats, like
the sargassum, to assist in their own miniature battle through their life cycle. It has to be, without question, one of mother
nature’s most astonishingly, beautiful achievements!The team’s final task is to satellite tag a
wahoo, a fish close to the top of the sargassum food chain. The data will help the team better protect
this fish, and it’s important role inside the sargassum community. So this is very exciting! This is definitely a wahoo, I could see his
stripes. We’re gonna pull him into the stretcher,
and we’re gonna put a PSAT archival tag in this fish if we get him into the boat! Ok, so basically, we’re just prepping the
station. Neil, has the wahoo very close to the boat,
so we’re gonna pull him up onto the boat. I’m gonna lift and you’re gonna guide
his head! Ok. Lift and pull! Neil and the team are using a pressurised
enclosed stretcher, designed to hold the fish in place during the tagging procedure. The main thing in keeping this guy alive is
having water flow over the gills, basically we’ve got a high pressure, well, hose running
over. You can see water pumping out the backside
of the gill, that keeps him breathing. It’s basically almost like a scuba tank
for humans, but for fish out of the water. So if you’re going diving, you have your
tank, you go diving, and you can breathe air. This is so he can respirate out of the water
while he’s in an opposing environment, so it’s kinda cool. I’m seating this tag so it sits just behind
his dorsal and trails behind him here. Choy and Neil must work quickly, wahoo, and
other pelagic fish are very susceptible to stress. Neil has the tag placed and secured in seconds. So now he’s trailing this PSAT archival
tag behind his fin. It’s gonna get in front of his tail, it
shouldn’t interfere with the movement of his tail as he goes along through the water
column. With the tag in place the team decide to quickly
release this fish! Yeah, he is. He’s kicking. Yeah, ok, are you in? Alright, cool. So, you grab the back, I’ll do the front. Be careful of the tag, because I have the
gloves. So, i’ll take the point. No. Turn him round the other way! Yep, yep, yep, yep! Good stuff! We’re just. And then you’re gonna slide his head in. We’re being very careful of the tag. Yep, ok. Three, two. One, go! The data from this tag will allow the team,
and the Bermuda Department of Fisheries, to look at this species local and long-range
movements. The wahoo is economically and ecologically
important to the health of the entire sargasso sea. By learning more about this individual fish,
the team can better protect it’s future and it’s important role inside the sargassum
community. Woah!So, our first pelagic release! Er, he swam away, he was a little kicking,
a little kicking and then pfft, took off! So i’m sure he’s, er, he’s in great
shape. This tag released it’s data three months
after deployment and is currently being analysed by the Bermuda Department of Fisheries. Their aim is to understand it’s movements
to help protect and sustain this species numbers. So what a great adventure exploring the sargasso
sea. Bermuda, the only landmass that rises up within
it. We’ve seen Mangroves. We’ve seen coral reefs. We’ve seen the Argus Tower. We’ve seen the sargassum weed community. And now we’ve seen one of the mightiest
fish in the ocean, the wahoo, fastest fish that swims quite probably. And we’ve put a PSAT archival tag in this
fish, we can track him on his adventures around the sargasso sea, how cool is that? Next time on Ocean Vet, we go behind the scenes
with the Ocean Vet production crew. This is Bermuda, people! It’s incredible! We’ll be meeting the team that created this
incredible series, and following them as they use their skills and experience to bring Ocean
Vet to life. This is my magic mask. We’ll also be speaking with the Ocean Vet
team, revealing their best moments, their most dangerous working environments, near
misses, and their friendships. Tag me, Choy! I can’t pump it up. Through the eyes of the Ocean Vet team, this
episode reveals what it’s been like creating this ground breaking series!


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