tv Patagonia Life on the Edge of the World CNN August 13, 2022 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
shame. it goes into your heart and into your mind and it doesn't leave you. >> at the ends of the earth is a land of extremes. home to spectacular wildlife. for century, people and animals have battled for supremacy, but now enemies are becoming allies. together, they face new challenges. in a rapidly changing world. >> you are at the mercy of the elements. >> this is the story of what it takes to survive on the edge of the world.
♪ the land along patagonia's eastern coast is barren. [ seagulls ] >> but the sea is rich with life. ♪ >> the andes cut through patagonia, blocking moist air flowing from the pacific, creating the eighth largest desert in the world. but off the atlantic coast a cold southern current mixes with the warmer brazilian one, producing the perfect conditions for marine life.
♪ ♪ >> on land, a wild patchwork of desolate beaches, rocky outcrops and towering cliffs overlook one of the most important marine reserves on the planet. the top predator patrolling these waters -- orca. ♪ >> also known as killer whales. the largest members of the dolphin family. this pod of ten is a close-knit group that will stay together their entire lives. the leader of this family is
wise, old grandma known as maga. it's high tide and the 40-year-old matriarch leads her family towards shore. their target, unsuspecting seals and sea lion pups. but how to get to them on the beach? ♪ >> the family has perfected an ingenious way to hunt here. >> first, they swim sideways to hide their telltale dorsal fins. the seals have no idea that these six-ton killers are so close. then the orca do something extraordinary. they beach themselves. >> it's a remarkable technique.
♪ >> the beaches are death traps for whales and dolphins. it's too easy to get stranded, but not for this family. they've learned how to expertly maneuver back into the sea. maga and her pawn are one of only two orca families in the world known to pull off this dangerous feat. ever since she first laid eyes on them, orca expert maria leoni gaffet has been fascinated by these predators.
>> i was born here in patagonia, quite close to the peninsula of valdes. it was always quite a strong experience to see them for the first time especially hunting in this manner, and i guess that's when they started to exist for me. >> maria leoni was determined to understand their behavior. she decided to camp out along this desert coastline for three months a year when the orcas hunt most. for 20 years she's observed maga and her family and can identify individuals by their unique markings. >> you take photos of their fins, of their saddle patches.
the idea is to do observation of this population and of their behavior over long periods of time. >> maria leoni realized their hunting technique was not instinctive, but learned. >> they start teaching the calves when they're really tiny. you know, they start to bring them to the shore slowly and safely until eventually they can do it on their own. >> it's an incredible skill taught by one generation to the next. ♪ >> this morning maga's hunting class is in session. she's working with her grandchildren on their stranding technique. >> she's a great teacher. she's really proficient and professional. >> today's challenge, the young calves are to swim into the shallows grabbing clumps of seaweed. a practice run like this is
critical. if they master this skill they'll never go hungry. but one wrong move and they could beach themselves and die. ♪ >> maga leads her class up to the breakers daring them to grab some seaweed and one bold student goes for it, launching into the shallows. success. maria leoni has discovered that it takes four years for each new generation to master this behavior.
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>> each spring these migratory waddlers return from their feeding grounds up north to breed. under the watchful eye of conservationist papi garcia. >> the first time i heard of something call would a penguin it was through my grandmother. she used to tell me very, very warm and nice stories about penguins when i was a small boy. >> when papi finally saw them he was captivated. >> i was 19, 18 years old. i came to one of the colonies here in patagonia and that was an epiphany moment and i had a feeling that i had to dedicate my life to their conservation.
>> today the beach is busy, but it wasn't always like this. >> the first time i came there were only six pairs of nests. this place was a real mess. there were a lot of reckless people and careless fishermen coming here throwing garbage everywhere. we needed to protect this colony because otherwise they would leave and they would never come back. >> it took several years of clearing trash and getting local support to turn this polluted beach into a protected area. ♪ >> papi's efforts paid off.
and the penguins returned. >> the colony group from those six original pairs of penguins to over 3,000 pairs now. so that was a home run. >> papi now lives nearby with his wife laura. during breeding season they regularly monitor the penguins. >> when you work with them and you visit them very frequently you get to know them better, and one of the favorite penguins in this colony is called clarita. >> she is one of the original few that restarted the colony. [ speaking foreign language ] >> we know that she's about 16 years old. she was able to raise 14 chicks, and the last two chicks are hatching right now.
>> papi weighs and measures clarita's newborns to make sure they're in good health. >> clarita, for me, represents the hope for this planet. whatever we do in terms of conservation is really worthwhile because this colony is showing us that a small action that we decided to do a long time ago is having a big impact. >> the penguins are doing so well here they're running out of
nest sites leading to a real estate crunch. this male has decided to move in on another family's burrow. >> the resident female watches on concerned. she calls for her partner. [ penguin calling sounds ] >> his gutteral squawks are a show of dominance. but the intruder isn't taking the hint. the two square off, beak to beak. ♪
>> the resident on the left gets in some good jabs. >> finally, bloodied and battered, the home invader is sent packing. next time maybe he'll think twice about moving into someone else's burrow. >> 30 miles to the north on peninsula valdes, another colony's numbers are not doing so well. ♪ >> the small settlement of playa rebelde has a population of 200
people and shrinking. those that remain make a hard living from the ocean. >> one of them is lucas del rio. >> lucas forages for shell fish on the sea floor. he doesn't use expensive scuba gear. instead, air is pumped from a compressor through a rubber hose directly into his mouth. >> 65 feet below the surface, he
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>> lucas takes his haul back to dry land, avoiding whales as he goes. this bay is home to hundreds of them. it's one of the largest nurseries on the planet. for southern right whales. ♪ >> their name is a reminder of a darker past when these slow-moving whales were considered the right ones to hunt. they were driven to the brink of extinction. ♪ >> by the end of the whaling era
>> but getting one isn't easy. >> his crossbow fires a special dart designed to collect a small amount of skin. he needs to time his shot perfectly. ♪ >> this single sample will provide mariano with a wealth of data, the whale's genetics, age and exposure to pollution, information crucial to both understanding more about the
species and helping its survival. >> the southern right whales have bounced back, but their population has attracted unwanted attention. a mother and her calf are being tailed by a family of killers. orca. mom heads for the safety of the shallows. ♪ >> but the orca pod quickly catches up with them. ♪
>> the young orca is given the chance to hone its hunting skills. >> the right whale mom twists and turns putting herself between her baby and the attackers. ♪ >> in desperation she wedges her calf on the sea floor protecting its soft underbelly. her defensive maneuver works. the orca call off the attack. the calf is exhausted.
and comes in for a much needed feed. he can drink up to 150 gallons of milk a day. he'll rely on mom for food and protection for at least a year. >> but the right whales aren't the only species making a comeback here. this corridor from bahia creek to bahia san blas is a haven for the most misunderstood animals, sharks. ♪ >> blue sharks hunt along this coast.
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the signal is loud and clear . >> back on land, thousands of elephant seals have come ashore on the shores of peninsula valdes. these massive seals spend more than 80% of the year feeding out at sea. when they come back to land they've got one thing on their mind. breeding. this patch is the domain of one huge male.
he's mastered this beach and has a harem of two dozen females. he wants to mate with all of them. >> but a young hotshot is trying to sneak in on the action. the beach master keeps a watchful eye. this new male is taking a big risk, but it might be his only chance to breed this year. the beach master has seen enough. time to show this young pretender who's boss.
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the big male remains the master of the beach. for now, at least. when the breeding season is over the seals are hungry and return to the open ocean to feed. they swim east, heading hundred his of miles off the patagonian coast to their hunting grounds where there is an abundance of one of their favorite foods, squid. another worldly creature that spends daylight hours hiding in depths of more than 2,500 feet. at night millions of them rise from the deep looking for food guided by the light of the moon or so they think.
it's actually the light of a 420-foot fishing vessel, and it's not alone. around 150 ships work these waters. each one has 100 powerful lights. luring the squid up to the surface where they're snagged by a long line of hooks. desperately trying to wiggle free, the squid squirt jets of water. but it's no use. every day this fleet can catch 7,500 tons of squid to be sold in europe and asia.
>> behind the border, marine life is protected from this super fleet. >> the crew of the destroyer has their work cut out for them because this industrial-scale fishing is relentless. large support ships come to the fleet, refuelling and resupplying. the fishing boats rarely return to port and can spend years at sea.
>> the coast guard destroyer is not alone inside the protected zone. nearby are two endangered ocean giants, a pair of sei whales. and closer to shore, hundreds of duski dolphins. but it's not just patagonia's waters that are busy. the skies above these cliffs are some of the region's most crowded airspace. this cnn original series, "patagonia" is brought to you by dish. united health care.
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america. the burrowing parrot. after wintering up north, pairs return to the same nest every spring. it makes sense given how hard they've worked to dig out these homes. some stretch back ten feet into the cliff. ♪ >> mauricio is leading the charge to understand and conserve the parrots' last stronghold . [ speaking foreign language ]
>> mauricio first encountered these parrots while traveling around patagonia 20 years ago. he was smitten, and he has been here ever since. mauricio routinely encounters and counts the nests. . [ speaking foreign language ] >> inside most of these nests are hungry chicks. today it's this mom's turn to head out on the food run.
the native vegetation she depends on is disappearing as fast as the amazon rain forest. to stand any chance of feeding her family, she must fly three hours inland to find seeds and berries. but the long trip isn't the only thing our ma needs to worry about. as she returns, she must deal with a neighbor from hell. the fastest animal in the world, a peregrine falcon. swooping in at over 200 miles per hour, it terrorizes the colony.
at first this desert coast may seem a barren place. but its rich waters offer life to a vast number of incredible animals. and the continued protection of these threatened creatures is now more important than ever . next on "patagonia: life on the edge of the world," as summer arrive, animals are gathering in