ASP: Extreme Hunters
Patrick Stewart takes us on a journey to unravel the mysteries behind the incredible abilities of some of nature’s most successful hunters: the hammerhead shark, the python, the pit viper, and the sperm whale. Mixing daring in-the-field experiments led by charismatic scientists with specially constructed virtual models of each animal, this hour-long program investigates some extraordinary real-life superpowers.
The hammerhead shark may look weird, but its hammer-shaped head holds the secret to a remarkable extra sense that gives it an edge in the hunt for prey: the hammerhead can detect the minute electric fields given of by all living creatures underwater. Scientist Steve Kaijura has spent much of his adult life finding out what makes them tick. We join him in the Florida Keys where he’ll catch a hammerhead, then take it back to his lab to test the limits of its supersense in a special experiment. Finally Steve isn’t takes to the air to find out how hammerheads use their electrosense to help them navigate the vast ocean depths.
The python and the pit viper have both evolved a unique ability to form an image of the world in terms of heat. By seeing infra-red, they can spot warm-blooded prey in total darkness. Michael Grace is fascinated by these snakes ability to see heat. Having caught a python in the depths of Florida’s wetlands, he sets up a field laboratory out in the swamps. Here he uses worlds most advanced infra-red camera, to record a snake striking a warm object in total darkness. The footage is a world first, but handling these dangerous snakes in the dark is not for the faint hearted.
Finally we join behavioural biologist Justin Hart on the tiny islands of the Azores. Here, unlike almost anywhere else in the world, sperm whales live all year round. We follow Justin as he tries to track these elusive giants. They spend much of their lives hunting squid hundreds of metres underwater. They find them using the loudest sound in the animal kingdom. It allows them to echolocate – effectively seeing with sound. We explore exactly how they make these incredibly sounds. And what they’ve got in common with their much smaller cousins – the dolphins.
Alongside thrilling in-the-field action, Patrick Stewart explores the mysteries behind these superpowers using specially constructed virtual models of each of our animals. With them he shows us deep inside these creatures to find out what gives them their extraordinary abilities.