Frozen Worlds

In this episode of Netflix's original documentary series: Our Planet, they explore wildlife affected by climate change in Antarctica, Artic, and on the North-eastern coast of Russia. Sea ice is crucial for lives living at both poles and for determining the climate of the whole planet. The white surface from the ice keeps the planet cool by reflecting sun energy back into space. However, with the ice melting at alarming rates, more and more heat are being absorbed in the dark sea.

Episode Summary


During spring, sea ice melts and and sea levels return to continental shores. As the sea ice breaks up, life returns to the frozen home as the harshest seas draw up riches from the deep. Algae under the sea ice means krill is also present for all animals to depend on; but with the sea ice melting, uncertainty hangs in the air.

The Gentoo Penguins may be the fastest penguins in the water, but they need to trek up to rocky nesting grounds, which consists of less than 1% of Antarctica. As the temperature rises, so do the numbers of penguins. Flocks of female penguins swim to hunt for the young chicks, diving together below 200m.

During feeding, Humpback Whales work together by creating air bubbles with their blowholes underwater to trap krill. As the krill are enclosed in a tight ring of air bubbles, each whale in the pod lunges together with mouths wide open to eat the krill.

The Albatross chicks sits on their nests the entire winter, and spends a year growing and developing before taking its first flight. During the winter, they rely on parents to bring back food to eat on a regular basis. If a parent returns and notices that the chick is smaller than it should be, they realize that their mate has not been feeding their chick; the mate may be one of many that are dead.

King Penguins face many difficulties to reach their nesting grounds from the waters: they need to avoid being eaten by Leopard Seals hiding in the kelp forests, move quietly through the sleeping Elephant Seals, and find their chick among thousands. Since Leopard Seals know it's harder to catch a penguin in a flurry of them, they attack the ones falling behind. As the penguins make it to shore, they still need to make their way through a herd of Elephant Seals. Even though Elephant Seals do not eat King Penguins, it's best to avoid waking up any of the sleeping giants. If any male Elephant Seals are fighting over a female, the King Penguins will try to avoid being pummeled and squashed by a 4-tonne mass of angry blubber. Once they reach the nesting ground, they make a call and listen carefully for their chicks' callback to find them.


In the Arctic, polar bears' survival are strongly affected by the effects of climate change. The flat ice has no place for them to hide and sneak up on prey during hunting; most seal hunts results in failure. This leaves them starving and weaker to continue hunting, since they need to eat at least two-thirds of their weight to survive the whole year. As they are adaptable predators that rely on sea ice to hunt, the disappearance of sea ice also means the disappearance of polar bears.

North-eastern coast of Russia

Walruses haul themselves out of the water onto a rocky beach out of desperation; the sea ice had melted and retreated away, leaving the beach as the closest place for them to rest. To get a good resting spot, they need to climb over others to get through the crowd, crushing younger ones in the process. The stampede dies down as they scale up to rest, but when they are hungry, they need to get back down to look for food in the water. However, due to lack of experience in getting down from a height they weren't even suppose to climb, most trip or stumble and fall to their deaths. Heaps of walruses are found almost every year.

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