Concerns I raised earlier this year – see here and here – regarding the Sir David Attenborough’s Netflix walrus tragedy porn episode have been vindicated by a new Attenborough BBC TV special called Seven Worlds, One Planet (Asia). It shows film footage of polar bears – taken by drones – driving walrus off the same Siberian cliff that was shown in the Netflix documentary film released in April.
Few of the reporters who covered this story bothered to investigate further despite the evidence provided by myself and others that polar bears and drones were the likely triggers for these deaths: they simply took Attenborough and the film crew at their word.
Netflix director Sophie Lanfear and cameraman Jamie McPherson insisted there were no polar bears in the vicinity at the time they shot their film footage but this was clearly not the case. They knew that bears were involved because they filmed them menacing the walrus!
It is now evident that McPherson filmed the 20 or so polar bears stalking walrus at the top of the Ryrkaypiy cliff and driving them over the edge for the BBC episode only a few days prior to filming a few walrus falling with no bears present on the cliff top for the Netflix film in September 2017. The bears were close enough when the Netflix sequence was filmed to converge immediately on the rookery to feed on carcasses once the walrus herd left the beach.
Fat, healthy polar bears (not desperately hungry ones) were indeed involved in these walrus deaths and so were drones. Lack of sea ice was not a significant factor.
UPDATE 6 November 2019: See Paul Homewood’s take on this here. Additional video added at the end.
Press release from the Global Warming Policy Foundation: Falling Walruses: Attenborough Tacitly Admits Netflix Deception (4 November 2019).
London, 4 November: Sir David Attenborough finds himself at the centre of another scandal over deceptive filmmaking.
Back in the spring, he was accused of deceiving viewers when he claimed, in his Netflix show Our Planet, that walruses were falling off Siberian clifftops as a result of climate change.
This was shown to be untrue by Canadian biologist and mammal expert Dr Susan Crockford, who described the abundant scientific literature, dating back many decades, showing that walruses have always taken to the land, and even fallen from clifftops. She also pointed out that the footage Attenborough used to make his case seemed to have come from a well-documented incident when walruses had been driven over cliffs by polar bears.
Yesterday, in his new BBC documentary Seven Worlds, One Planet, Attenborough again showed falling walruses, but this time making it quite clear that polar bears were driving them off the cliff. Remarkably, however, the footage he used appears to be from the same incident and shot by the same cameraman as shown in his Netflix documentary, despite the producers’ claims at the time that no bears had been in the vicinity.
Attenborough therefore seems to be tacitly admitting that the claims he made in the Netflix film, and the denials issued by the show’s camera team and producers, were untrue.
GWPF director Dr Benny Peiser welcomed Attenborough’s climb-down.
“We can only be pleased that Sir David has stepped back from the deceptive claims he made in his Netflix show. He and the producers should apologise for the trick they pulled and withdraw the Netflix film that has badly misled and unnecessarily traumatised millions of people and news media around the world”.
“100,000 of them, almost the entire world’s population are here”
[well no, actually: the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that up to 283,213 Pacific walrus exist, see USFW Federal Register pg. 46643, 1st paragraph]
Walrus falling off cliffs are natural events: they are not caused by recent declines in summer sea ice.