By most accounts, Netflix‘s new David Attenborough-narrated documentary Our Planet has been a resounding success. Yet the climate change-focused series is not without its detractors, especially those who were unhappy with (if not traumatized) by a particular scene in the second episode, “Frozen Worlds.” While documenting hundreds of walruses climb onto and up a steep, rocky beach in Russia, episode director and producer Sophie Lanfear and her crew watch in horror as many of the animals fall to their deaths.
Many viewers were not happy about the scene and expressed themselves accordingly on Twitter.
As horrifying as the sequence is, however, it’s simply a sign of the times. “This is the sad reality of climate change,” Lanfear told The Atlantic. “They’d be on the ice if they could.” In another comment to People, the director explained that “the Arctic is now warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on the planet.” In other words, what viewers are watching in this scene — confused walruses plummeting to their deaths from the unstable rocky cliffs — is a direct result of human-caused climate change, which is a major point of the show.
Our Planet was released last week, but to drive home the importance of the series’s message, and especially the message implied by the walrus scene, Netflix released a special behind-the-scenes clip featuring Lanfear and her crew’s immediate reactions. “There’s probably two or three hundred dead walruses on a half-mile stretch of beach here,” cameraman Jamie McPherson says in the video. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever filmed.”