Earth: One Amazing Day (2017) Script

For as long as humans have existed on Earth, we have looked to the heavens in wonder.

Fascinated by the countless stars in the night sky.

But in all the unimaginable vastness of space, we found only one place like this.

It's a small blue planet, with a rocky moon.

Travelling around a star.

It's just close enough to be fed by its sun's energy, but not blasted by its heat.

It spins on its axis, so that for half a day its surface basks in light, then for half it cools in shade.

You might say, it's the lucky planet.

Because its rhythm of light and shade, turns out to be a vital ingredient, for life itself.

Earth, our home.

As far as we know, our planet is unique.

As far as we know, one day spent here is the most amazing thing in the whole universe.

The magical dance of Earth and Sun, has created millions of different kinds of plants and animals, alive on our Earth today.

Some, you see every day.

Others, are very rare.

But, we all have one thing in common.

Our lives are driven by the rhythm of night and day.

One hint of morning sunlight...

And we respond in so many different ways.

Some animals need it.

Others, hide from it.

Most of us, love it.

Some, even greet it with song.

Whatever way we choose to meet it,

sunrise is the power that brings our world to life.


Here, the first hours of the day belong not just to those who rise early, but to those who stayed up late.

This serval has been hunting during the night.

But now he's pushing his luck.

He's out late, trying for a final mouthful.

His high jumping technique is perfect, for hunting amongst the long grass of the African savanna.

He's looking for prey, but mostly listening for it.

His enormous radar ears can hear a pin drop.

Or a careless step from a southern vlei rat.

Now the sunlight's growing stronger, maybe it's time for bed.

On the other side of the world, on an isolated group of Pacific islands,

there are animals who can't even think about running around so early in the day.

They can't do anything until they've been warmed up by the Sun's power.

The Galapagos Islands are home for some of the most unusual animals on Earth.

Marine iguana.

Their morning ritual is always the same.

As the sun comes up on their island home, they simply sprawl on the rocks, lapping it up.

Reptiles are pretty much solar-powered.

They need the sun's heat, before they can move a muscle.

And they're not the only creatures soaking up the sun.

Galapagos racer snakes aren't big enough to trouble an adult iguana.

But, something smaller?

Away from the rocks where grown-ups live, buried in the sand, baby iguanas have been incubating underground... for over three months.

Today when the Sun has warmed the sand,

they will emerge.

It's time for this one, to crawl out into the rest of life.

If she starts too early, before she's warm enough, she won't have the energy to run very fast.

If she leaves too late, then her enemies may be supercharged.

It's the biggest decision she'll ever make.

She made it.

The snakes missed their chance.

But more babies are hatching.

And now the snakes are on alert.

It's the best opportunity they will get to eat all year.

On flat ground a baby iguana can outrun a racer snake.

But, others are waiting in ambush.

Another hatchling has his first glimpse of a dangerous world.

The snake's eyes aren't very good, but they can detect movement.

So, if the hatchling keeps its nerve, it may just be okay.

An amazing escape.

The biggest achievement of any young animal's life.

Powered by our local star.


As the Sun climbs higher, its rays reach further.

Bringing magic wherever they touch.

Plants turn the light into life.

They take thin air and the Sun's energy and with photosynthesis make new growth.

Conjuring up tangled forest worlds, leaf by leaf.

It's the alchemy upon which everything else on Earth depends.

A matter of life, and death.

One plant can weave its particular spell in a single day.

This is bamboo.

It can grow almost a millimetre a minute.

The fastest growing plant in the world.

It's still only mid-morning.

Most of this has grown since dawn.

And since dawn, this giant panda has been eating it.

The trouble with bamboo, is that it's not very nutritious.

The trouble with pandas, is that they're very fussy.

Bamboo is almost the only thing they'll eat.

To get enough energy to feed herself, this panda will need to eat up to 14 hours today.

Longer probably, because she's nursing.

But for her cub, it's different.

She lives mostly on her mother's milk, so chewing is only really her hobby.

Not yet a full-time job.

This morning, she has something rare in the natural world.

Time to spare.

And, to explore.

Because of their specialised way of life, giant pandas are amongst the rarest animals in the world.

Cubs like her are more precious still.

There are only a few hundred alive.

A rare animal with the rarest luxury.


As the morning sun grows in strength, it begins to brew a spell of a different kind.

The Sun is pouring energy into our atmosphere, heating it up.

It evaporates water from land and sea, and builds clouds.

Across Africa, clouds and weather are constantly on the move, bringing rain and fresh grass to different places at different times.

For millions of animals, the job of every morning is to move

to where the rain will make the grass grow next.

Whatever stands in their way.

This morning, the need to keep moving will present a particular challenge for one young zebra.

This foal could walk less than an hour after birth.

She can handle almost anything.

But she's never faced an obstacle like this.

Swollen by highland rain, the river is fast and furious.

And full of dangers.

The young zebra is going to need every bit of her mother's help, if she's going to make it.

It turns out the biggest threat isn't attack by other animals, it's the river itself.

Her mother tries to lead the foal to the shallowest waters, but she's just too small.

And the current's just too strong.

The foal is on the verge of exhaustion, but her mother will not give up.

While others are escaping, she calls for her foal to keep going.

And finally, a way out.

There is a saying in Africa, "If you wanna go quickly, go alone.

If you wanna go far, go together."

After this, the zebra foal and her mother can surely handle anything the day throws at them.

The Sun is approaching its highest and most powerful.

In the far north, in the Arctic, ice has held land and ocean in its grip for months.

The Sun near the poles is always lower and weaker than anywhere else.

But still, its energy will transform.


One of the most mysterious animals on the planet.

For the moment they can't travel far,

only small openings in the ice allow them to surface and breathe.

But the power of the Sun is coming to their rescue.

For many days the Sun's heat has been gnawing away at the ice's hold on sea and land.

Now, approaching its highest and strongest, the Sun begins to triumph.

And the battle of heat against cold, becomes a rout.

On land, rivers flow again.

In the oceans, where the ice is now weak,

the Sun's warmth, opens cracks.

And the cracks become channels.

Roadways along, which the narwhal can traverse their icy kingdom.

In Inuit legend, the first narwhal was a brave female hunter.

Caught up in a deadly embrace with a whale she hunted,

Her braided hair flung out, becoming the twisted tusk.

For these narwhal, what an amazing day.

They are free again, to roam their ocean home.

The strength of the Sun becomes greater and greater, the further south you go.

In the mountains of North America, the sunlight of a spring day, brings the freshly thawed world to life.

If you're still wearing your winter coat, the heat during the middle-of-the-day can get a bit uncomfortable.

You need to find a tree and give yourself a good scratch.

Rubbing against the bark not only gets to the itch, it helps a hot bear shed its winter fur.

It's also a chance to mark the territory with your personal scent.

So everyone knows exactly who's in town.

It's now midday, and the world feels the full force of our friendly neighbourhood star.

The sun is now at its highest in the sky.

Its light penetrates even the deep hidden folds of the Earth.

In Africa, near the equator, its energy creates a furnace.

This zebra foal and her herd still need to move on.

But every step is tough in heat like this.

Any scrap of shade... is an oasis.

In full sunlight, the herd are easy for hunters to see.

But there is one blessing about the midday sun.

It's simply too hot for lions to hunt.

There is something, however, that doesn't take a break, even in the heat of the day.

The struggle for power.

Rivalry between males for territory and for the attentions of females is so overpowering, it drives even the most placid of creatures to combat.

At high noon in the desert heat,

a young male giraffe is challenging the resident bull for prime territory and the females that go with it.

At first they just push and shove, trying to intimidate each other.

Normally, this would be an end to it, but the young rival seems to think he has a chance and attacks.

Neither will back down.

The old bull is down.

He knows the final blow is coming.

So, he ducks...

and hits back.

It is over.

The day still belongs to the old master.

For the loser, it's exile in the desert.

The land and the creatures that live on it, toast under the noonday sun.

But one habitat remains cool, even now.

Over the course of a single day, even the enormous power of the Sun, isn't strong enough to warm the great oceans by much.

Here, some of the largest creatures on Earth, live lives as long, and perhaps as complex, as our own.

This is a family of sperm whales.

And at its heart, a rare sight.

A calf.

Already 15ft long, she's about a year old,

and very inquisitive.

For two or three years, she will feed on her mother's milk.

It's so rich in fat, it has the consistency of cottage cheese.

So it doesn't dissolve in the sea water as it's being gulped down.

The great whales are the biggest predators that have ever existed, yet, they make the most protective parents.

And very talkative ones, chatting in a language of clicks.

They're the loudest creatures on the planet, capable of sounds, far louder than a jet engine.

But right now, it's time for silence.

Hanging vertically, the giants of the sea... take an afternoon nap.

These whales have brains larger than any other animal.

Who can guess with what richness they dream away the day.

In the tropics, the oppressive heat of midday lingers well into the afternoon.

On a tiny island, off the coast of Panama, in Central America, everything takes life slowly.

A pygmy three-toed sloth.

At his best, he is slothful.

At this time of day, he's pretty much comatose.

Only one thing might rouse him.

And it's this...

The call of the female sloth, out there somewhere.

And since it's high tide, why not take the short cut.

The only problem is from down here, it's not easy to tell where the potential mate is calling from.

Could this be her?

Sadly for him, this female is not looking for a date.

While she's nursing her cub, she's quite happy to stay single.

As they say, "ma├▒ana." There's always tomorrow.

Though island life here moves slowly, the pace of the afternoon is very different in other parts of the world.

This is Zavodovski Island in Antarctica, home for 1. 5 million chinstrap penguins.

It's an extraordinary place.

An outcrop of rock, spewed out by the volcano at its heart.

The oceans beat against it night and day.

And the penguins are caught in the crossfire.

All day, the adult penguins struggle against the waves as they journey between home and their hunting grounds, offshore.

It's an ordeal they can't avoid.

Their families depend on them.

Chinstrap penguin chicks are completely helpless, without the support of both mother and father.

They need fresh food every day.

And their parents take turns to fetch it.

It means an awful lot of hunting...

...for an awful lot of moms and dads.

This mother has no food left to feed her chicks.

They now need their father to return, and soon.

At mid-afternoon, the first wave of hunters, who left early this morning, return.

Amongst them is the chick's father.

He's been fishing 50 miles offshore, but now he's not far away.

If getting safely into the water was difficult, getting out is even harder.

Tiny claws help them to get whatever grip he can on the rough water.

The father now has a two mile walk to his family.

And a stomach loaded with food, doesn't help.

This is the largest penguin colony on Earth.

But, as he makes the same journey every other day,

he should be able to do it with his eyes closed.

At least, most of the time.

Like any commute, it can get a little congested.

And sometimes, it can be hard to remember where you parked your kids.

The mother is still waiting, the chicks are now desperate.

In the midst of all this deafening chorus, he can recognise her particular cry.

She is, literally, one in a million.

A head bob, is the penguin's way of saying, "Welcome home."

Both chicks will get a meal.

A happy end to the toughest commute on Earth.

Mid-afternoon in the rainforests of Ecuador.

The air steams in the heat.

Here, the Sun and plants conspire to create their own unique weather.

And is the same practically every day.

This afternoon, that's going to help one of its smallest and most beautiful inhabitants in a surprising way.

The racket-tailed hummingbird is about the size of your thumb.

It takes a lot of energy to look this graceful.

That means it's living in a perpetual state of near starvation.

In fact, its metabolism is so fast, it needs to fuel up on nectar, over a thousand times a day.

It can't stop feeding for a moment.

All day is a race against time.

The racket-tail isn't the only one hunting for nectar in the forest flowers.

Bees are too, and they don't like to share.

A single bee sting, close to the bird's heart, could be fatal.

But time, is on the racket-tail's side.

Rain is about to intervene.

The heat of the afternoon sun, has built massive thunder clouds.

And when they can no longer hold their burden, they break.

Above the canopy, the rain is torrential.

Under the shelter of layers of leaves, the deluge is reduced to drips.

A raindrop as big as its head, may not be much fun for a hummingbird.

But it's altogether too much, for a bee.

The race to eat, continues.

All over the world, tiny creatures are on a mission to stock up before night.

In a European meadow, there's a great deal of food hidden in the plants.

For those who can reach it.

As the day begins to fade, this tiny harvest mouse, must gather as much fuel as possible.

Her best chance for a good dinner, are the seeds and fruit, at the tips of the tallest stalks.

But, it's the most dangerous part, of her tiny world.

A barn owl, is a night-time hunter.

But this one has woken early.

And hungry.

The world at ground-level is bewildering for a mouse used to the high life.

But she can read the pattern of the stems overhead, like a map.

Which is just as well, because back home... she's needed.

The light is dying.

But new life is being born.

A mayfly emerges.

It will live for just this day.

Or less, if it doesn't move fast enough.

When life is as perilous as this...

nature finds safety in numbers.

This hatch, on the Tisza River in Hungary, is one of the world's great wildlife spectacles.

Having spent three years as nymphs in the river, up to five million of these remarkable insects emerge together, on just this stretch of water alone.

They'll never feed. They don't even have mouths.

Instead, as soon as they hatch, they begin a vast glittering mating dance.

Every day on Earth is amazing.

But surely the mayfly's day, is one of the most amazing of all.

By nightfall, they will have met, mated, laid their eggs, and died.

The future entrusted to the next generation.

Their entire adult life will be spent in just a few hours of a single day.

Day, is now spinning swiftly, towards night.

The Sun slips, ever lower in the sky.

It is a time of great beauty... and grave danger.

In the cool evening shadows, is the best time to be a predator, and the worst time to be prey.

For a zebra and her foal, this is the most dangerous time of the day.

A cheetah has his eye on the foal.

Sometimes a mother's love...

Can be a match for almost anything.

As the day fades, the shadow world is taking over.

In the Changzhou mountains, in Southwest China, the world is turning its face away from its nurturing star, towards the chilly emptiness of space.

Here, white-headed langurs are taking their last meal of the day.

They're amongst the rarest creatures on Earth.

Rarer, even than the giant panda.

But when daylight disappears, this is no place to linger.

They are obeying an ancient and overpowering instinct.

With the lengthening of the shadows, they scramble for height and refuge.

The route is precarious.

It's not unknown for a langur to fall, or baby be dropped.

Yet, despite the risks, the langurs never stay out after dark.

Even the babies feel it, and know to fear it.

Night is coming.

The world no longer belongs to them.

It belongs to another set of players.

The creatures of darkness.

The night can turn a friend into a deadly foe.

During the day, whitetip sharks are content to cruise gently around the reef alone.

But when night comes, they're transformed into hunters working in packs.

In the gloom, the shark's eyesight is poor.

But they can smell potential prey from far off.

And they have another advantage.

A sixth sense, that can pick up the tiny electrical signals from the heartbeat of a frightened fish.

And track it down.

Even the deepest shadow, is no hiding place.

Darkness is not just a time for nightmares.

But also for dreams and wonders.

Energy stored from the sunlight is recycled.

And the world lights up again.

Some creatures use their lights for love.

For this male click beetle, his glowing spots are designed to impress and attract a mate.

And seeing the glow from this fungus, he thinks he's found one... hidden inside.

But the fungus is playing a trick on him.

The glow comes from the fungus itself.

Puzzled, he searches everywhere.

And gets covered in fungal spores.

He'll spread them wherever he goes next.

Not reproducing himself, but helping reproduce the fungus instead.

A light in the dark, can also be a deadly trap.

In New Zealand, glow-worms cling to the roof of a cave.

They shine out their strange lights from within circles of hanging silk, sticky with mucus.

Tiny flies are drawn to the beautiful lights.

Only to become glued to the dangling strands and trapped.

Later, they'll be reeled in for supper.

And the night brings magic, on a much grander scale.

The sky seems to come alive.

Even when the sun is out of sight, it makes its presence felt.

Its electrical energy powers a firework display that lights up the planet.

The Aurora.

And there is another light show on Earth.

One powered by us.

We no longer have to wait for sunrise.

We no longer need to be afraid of the dark.

In our cities, we've created an endless electrical daylight of our own.

We've broken away from the rhythm of night and day.

As more and more of us live this way, it's easy for us to forget our connexion to the natural world.

Even, when it's on our doorstep.

These raccoons in Toronto seem just as home in the city, as we are.

Not all creatures can adapt so easily to our world.

But we humans can do something to help.

We have the ability to appreciate what no other animal on Earth can.

If we open our eyes, we can see the magic all around us.

The extraordinary in the everyday.

We can see the fragile web that connects us with all living things.

And understand that the future of all life... lies in our hands.

We have searched the far reaches of space for wonders.

But instead, we found the most wonderful things of all, back home.

Here, on our lucky planet.

Small and blue, spinning in an ocean of stars.

In the whole universe, as far as we know, there's nowhere else with life.

Nothing more extraordinary...

Than planet Earth.

Nothing more important to protect than our one and only home.

And nothing more amazing than what happens here, day after day.