David Attenborough with a black noddy on Heron Island.
David Attenborough with a black noddy on Heron Island. Photo Freddie Claire

Attenborough reef doco is excellent

IF ANYONE is qualified to speak first-hand about changes to the Great Barrier Reef then it's Sir David Attenborough.

Almost 60 years after his first visit to Australia's largest natural wonder, the naturalist has produced a new documentary series on the expansive ecosystem.

While plenty of other film crews have delved into Queensland's waters to explore the reef, no one does it like Mr Attenborough.

He's not just a famous voice. What he does so well is make nature, and the science and research that go into understanding it, accessible to all without dumbing down the material for the masses.

While 89-year-old Attenborough doesn't scuba dive anymore, as he did in 1957 on his first visit to the reef, he has the next best thing - an eight-tonne submarine - to explore the depths.

In his understated style he describes viewing the reef scapes from the comfort of the sub as "jolly nice".

As an avid scuba diver I've visited Osprey Reef, which features in tomorrow's visitors-themed second episode, three times over the past 12 years and I still learned new things from the doco about the remote seamount.

This week's episode features the reef's most charismatic creatures, from tiger sharks and green turtles to dwarf minke whales and cheeky seabirds.

One of the things I like most about this series are the behind the scenes "outtakes" at the end of each episode, which give viewers an insight into the work that goes into filming a landmark production such as this.

But Attenborough is also concerned about the future of the reef, and this new series is a timely reminder of the reef's importance and vulnerability.

"The resilience of the natural world gives you great hope really," Attenborough says.

"Give nature half a chance and it really takes it and works with it. But we are throwing huge problems at it."

David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef continues on Sunday at 7.40pm on ABC1.