Sea Monsters

"Sea Monsters" was a BBC television program which used computer-generated imagery to show past life in Earth's seas. It was made by Impossible Pictures, the creators of "Walking with Dinosaurs", "Walking With Beasts" and "Walking With Monsters".

In this series, British wildlife presenter Nigel Marven is shown travelling to seven past seas in Earth's history and scuba diving there, in order of dangerousness with the most dangerous last. He travels in a white sail/motor boat roughly 24 m (80 ft) long named "The Ancient Mariner". His time-travelling device is not mentioned or shown. He uses a scuba set with a fullface mask so he can talk underwater to produce the commentary. He performs some dives using a strong shark cage, which is spherical to make it harder for large sea creatures to bite it.

Episode list

Episode One

The Seventh Most Dangerous Sea

* "Name": The Ordovician
* "Time": 450 million years ago
* "Location": New York
* "Special Equipment Used": Chain mail suit, video camera
* "Filming Location": Egypt

*"Cameroceras" (identified as an orthocone,revealed in encyclopedia and book)
*"Megalograptus" (identified as a sea scorpion,revealed in website,encyclopedia,book and DVD fact files)
*"Astraspis" (shown dead,identified as an armour-plated fish,revealed in book)
*"Isotelus" (shown dead,identified as a trilobite,revealed in book)In the Ordovician, the day is only 21 hours long and there is more carbon dioxide than in the twenty-first century, forcing Nigel to don a medical-looking backpack filled with air tanks with a special oxygen mixture.

To attract a "Megalograptus", Nigel finds the corpse of a dead "Astraspis" washed up on the beach. Because there is no land life, there are no coastal scavengers to eat what the sea spits out.

Before long, Nigel wades into shallow water and the "Astraspis" attracts a large "Megalograptus". The "Megalograptus" devours the "Astraspis", before attacking Nigel's foot, cutting it badly.

Later on, Nigel attempts to go after a "Cameroceras", by removing the eye of a dead "Isotelus" and replacing it with a small video camera. He then uses the inflatable raft to venture out into the deeper waters, where he throws the trilobite/video camera combo overboard. A "Cameroceras" is quickly attracted to it, and Nigel and the cameraman plunge overboard to film the elusive "Cameroceras". On the dive, Nigel wears a chain mail suit, so that any marauding "Megalograptus" do not attack him.

The "Cameroceras" is more agile in the sea than Nigel, and as "Cameroceras" attempts to swim away, Nigel grabs onto its shell. When the "Cameroceras" starts to dive down into the depths, Nigel swims away to the surface.

When Nigel pilots the boat back to shore, he finds a surprise: there are large numbers of "Megalograptus" mating in the shallow waters. Nigel manages to make his way safely through the "Megalograptus", but a few clamber onto the inflatable boat and puncture it.

The Sixth Most Dangerous Sea

* "Name": The Triassic
* "Time": 230 million years ago
* "Location": Switzerland.
* "Special Equipment Used": Bangstick
* "Filming Locations": New Zealand and the Bahamas

*"Cymbospondylus"
*"Nothosaurus" (identified as a nothosaur,revealed in encyclopedia)
*"Tanystropheus"
*"Coelophysis" (identified as dinosaur)
*"Peteinosaurus" (identified as a pterosaur)
*Unidentified fish (live acted)
*"Prestosuchus" (in book)
*"Neuticosaurus" (in book)
*"Mastodonsaurus" (in book)
*cynodont (in book) As Nigel walks along the tropical coastlines of Triassic Switzerland, he explains that the reptiles are taking over the surface of the earth from the skies (e.g. "Peteinosaurus"), to the land (e.g. "Coelophysis"). But of course, he is here to see the earliest sea reptiles.

From the deck of the "Ancient Mariner", Nigel and crew watch as a "Nothosaurus" comes up for air. When he sees one, Nigel dives into the seas, pursuing the elusive sea reptile.

Before long, Nigel finds a pair of "Nothosaurus". The "Nothosaurus" circle him, and Nigel has his prod ready to put off any "Nothosaurus" that comes too close. One of the "Nothosaurus" prepares to move in closer, and Nigel prods it with the electric prod. The "Nothosaurus" move off, and Nigel discovers another bizarre sea reptile: a "Tanystropheus".

Nigel follows the "Tanystropheus", and attempts to get a closer look at it by grabbing onto its tail, impeding its movement. However, the "Tanystropheus" loses its tail, similar to the modern day leopard gecko. Nigel can hold onto the tail only with difficulty, because it is thrashing around (intended as a predator deterrent). Suddenly the tail is snatched up and then eaten by a "Cymbospondylus".

The "Cymbospondylus" begins to circle Nigel with glee, and he explains that its slow movement is designed to deceive prey, and it can move very quickly when it is needed to. After he pokes it with the prod, the "Cymbospondylus" swims away, and Nigel returns to the relative safety of the "Mariner".

The Fifth Most Dangerous Sea

* "Name": The Devonian
* "Time": 360 million years ago
* "Location": Ohio
* "Special Equipment Used": Shark cage (round)
* "Filming Location": New Zealand

*"Dunkleosteus"
*"Hyneria"
*"Hynerpeton"
*"Stethacanthus" (identified as an ironing-boarding shark, revealed in the website, book and in encyclopedia)
*"Bothriolepis" (shown dead, identified as a placoderm, revealed in the book and website)
*"Onychodus" (in book)
*"Cheirolepis" (in book)
*"Cladoselache" (in book)
*"Graptolite" (in book)

On a preliminary dive, another crew member of the "Mariner" (Mike) films a huge female "Dunkleosteus", swimming around the shallow reefs near the "Ancient Mariner". The crew springs into action, and Nigel goes fishing for "Bothriolepis". Nigel places a bet with one of the other crew members that the "Dunkleosteus" will be able to slice through the "Bothriolepis" wrapped in the chain mail suit he used in the Ordovician. When the round shark cage is fully assembled, Nigel descends into it. The smell of the dead "Bothriolepis" begins to attract a young "Stethacanthus". Eventually, the monstrous "Dunkleosteus" is sighted, and the enraged fish repeatedly bashes the cage with her thick head, and looks as though she is about to rip a hole in the cage...

Episode Two: Into the Jaws of Death

However, the enraged fish only slightly dents the cage.

Eventually, Nigel throws the "Bothriolepis" out of the cage, and the "Dunkleosteus" slices through the chainmail and the "Bothriolepis". Spying a male "Dunkleosteus", the female turns cannibal and kills him. She then regurgitates the indigestible parts of her meal (the armour plating and the chainmail).

As Nigel departs for the surface, he explains that the placoderms as a whole have a grim future ahead of them. In another twenty million years, the entire Class of Placoderms will disappear, much to the other Devonian fish's relief.

The Fourth Most Dangerous Sea

*"Name": The Eocene
*"Time": 36 million years ago
*"Location": Giza
*"Special Equipment Used": Undersea recording device
*"Filming Locations": Egypt

*"Basilosaurus"
*"Dorudon"
*"Arsinoitherium"
*"Sarkastodon" (in book)
*"Embolotherium" (in book)
*"Gigantophis" (in book)
*"Palaeomastodon" (in book)
*"Physogaleus" (in book)

While walking in the mangrove swamps of Giza, Nigel comes across some mysterious footprints and a mound of fresh dung. Following the footprints, Nigel comes across an "Arsinotherium" migrating overland. Nigel takes a calculated risk and offers the huge fruit-eater an apple, but apparently this upsets the "Arsinotherium" and it charges at Nigel. Only by making a break into the thicker forests does Nigel escape from the mammal. Nigel watches from the forest as the "Arsinotherium" plunges into the water, and follows it. In the water, Nigel watches as a trio of "Dorudon" pass by, but there is no sign of the "Basilosaurus".

The "Ancient Mariner" sails offshore, where the crew try a tactic to attract whales that has been used with mixed success: record a "Basilosaurus" call and play it back via a huge speaker that is lowered from the boat. After playing it for a while, an enraged "Basilosaurus" rams into the boat before diving again. Wasting no time, Nigel suits up and dives. However, the whale could attack from any direction, so Nigel stays close to the hull of the "Mariner", using the boat like a shield to ward off the "Basilosaurus". The "Basilosaurus" is evidently distressed by the calls, and attacks and disables the speaker (which is explained as a territorial response).

As the "Ancient Mariner" sails off forward through time, Nigel explains that the tropical Eocene is a world on the brink of great climatic change. As the Oligocene dawns, "Basilosaurus", "Arsinotherium", and "Dorudon" will all vanish, victims of the climatic shifts that ended the Eocene, changing the warm sea into a cold ocean.

The Third Most Dangerous Sea

*"Name": The Pliocene
*"Time": 4 million years ago
*"Location": Peru
*"Special Equipment Used": Shark cage, "shark camera"
*"Filming Locations": Egypt, New Zealand and the Bahamas

*"Megalodon"
*"Odobenocetops"
*Unidentified whale
*fish (live acted)
*"Thalassocnus" (in book)
*"Thylacosmilus" (in book)After several minutes of heated debate, the crew of the "Mariner" come to an agreement. Before diving in offshore waters with the adult "Megalodon", Nigel will dive in the coastal waters, with the juveniles.

Before very long, Nigel finds a small whale (an "Odobenocetops") foraging for oysters in the mud, and it is being hunted by a teenage "Megalodon" shark. Only by taking cover in the thick underwater foliage does Nigel manage to escape the huge shark.

On the next dive (with the adults), Nigel uses the round shark cage that he previously used in the Devonian era against "Dunkleosteus". This time, Nigel hopes to fire a small video camera into the dorsal fin of the shark from the relative safety of the cage.

However, Nigel panics, and never fires the camera. Later, he tries again, this time from the surface of the "Mariner". The shark is drawn to the boat via liberal amounts of chum. The shark grabs the chum but Nigel is nowhere to be seen.

Episode Three: To Hell, And Back?

Nigel has been knocked off the boat by the shark and swims back, he managed to land a hit with theshark-camera. In a few days, they find the camera floating in the sea, and when they load it into theon-board television, they watch the "Megalodon" in question attack a whale the same size as it.

When the crew of the "Ancient Mariner" head backwards in time, Nigel says that as the Ice Age begins, the whales that "Megalodon" preyed on migrated to colder waters, where "Megalodon" could not follow. "Megalodon" is doomed to extinction, by hunger.

The Second Most Dangerous Sea

*"Name": The Jurassic
*"Time": 155 million years ago
*"Location": England
*"Special Equipment Used": Smell suit, water scooter, undersea radar
*"Filming Location": The Bahamas

*"Liopleurodon"
*"Metriorhynchus"
*"Leedsichthys"
*"Hybodus"
*"Ophthalmosaurus" (in book)
*"Cryptoclidus" (in book)
*"Eustreptospondylus" (in book)

Set around England, which was then largely underwater. This is the second most dangerous sea. Hazards include "Liopleurodon", the largest carnivorous animal of all time. Nigel spies a school of migrating "Leedsichthys". One weaker one is lagging behind the school, and a native"Metriorhynchus" and a foreign "Hybodus" shark launch a joint attack. Using radar, Nigel discovers that a huge "Liopleurodon" is heading toward the dying individual.

Nigel equips his and the cameraman's diving suit with a chemical system that will spray a cloud of deterrent at the huge pliosaur should they get too close. The crew use huge waterproof lights when they descend to the corpse of the "Leedsichthys", because it is night. A pair of "Liopleurodon" are feasting on the carcass, and Nigel starts to move closer toward them. When one turns its head towards him, Nigel panics and ejects the chemical, which works on the huge predator.

The Most Dangerous Sea of All Time

*"Name": The Cretaceous
*"Time": 75 million years ago
*"Location": Kansas
*"Special Equipment Used": ROV, radar
* "Filming Location": New Zealand
*"Tylosaurus" (identified as a giant mosasaur, revealed in encyclopedia)
*"Hesperornis"
*"Halisaurus" (identified as a mosasaur, revealed in book, encyclopedia and on website)
*"Elasmosaurus"
*"Archelon"
*"Xiphactinus"
*"Pteranodon"
*"Didelphodon" (identified as a mammal, in book, revealed in encyclopedia)
*"Tyrannosaurus" (not identified)
*"Squalicorax" (identified as shark, revealed in book)
*Unidentified fish (live acted)
*Unidentified hadrosaur (in book)
*"Dromaeosaurus" (in book)
*Unidentified ankylosaur (in book)
*"Globidens" (in book)
*"Dolichorhynchops" (in book)
*"Hainosaurus" (in book)
*Giant Squid (in book)
*"Anatotitan" (not identified)

After viewing a colony of "Hesperornis" on the coastline, Nigel and another member of the "Mariner" pause for a second to view a huge underwater bloodbath.As far as Nigel (using a periscope) can figure out, an elderly "Hesperornis" was killed, and the resulting carnage has attracted many sea animals, such as "Squalicorax","Xiphactinus" and "Halisaurus". Nigel explains that this sea is far too dangerous to go diving in; huge carnivores like "Xiphactinus" and "Tylosaurus" are far too dangerous. Instead, the crew of the "Ancient Mariner" have rigged an ROV to dive for them, while they watch from the safety of the boat. Sending it down, the crew finds a small pod of "Elasmosaurus" riding their wake like 21st century dolphins.

In the morning, Nigel discovers that they have hit a dead "Archelon", which was mauled by some other predator before being hit by the boat. Having done the same thing with present-day leatherback turtles, Nigel forgoes his personal safety to track down an "Archelon" and ride it. He and the cameraman ride off in the small inflatable raft that they had used previously in the Ordovician.

Before long, Nigel finds his quarry, and dives, grabbing onto the huge turtle's shell before noticing the imminent danger: a "Xiphactinus" circling the "Archelon". Nigel quickly makes his escape back up to the raft, but disaster strikes. A family pod of "Tylosaurus" attack the raft, completely overturning it, plunging the crew into the sea. Fortunately for Nigel, the "Tylosaurus" seem more interested in the boat than the humans, and they quickly escape back to the Mariner.

During the credits, the radar onboard picks up a colossal mob of adult "Tylosaurus" moving in from all sides, preparing to attack the ship...

External links

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/tv_radio/wwseamonsters/


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