Controversy over horrific Netflix scene

 

From the moment Netflix aired the mass suicide of walruses in a David Attenborough documentary there has been controversy about the shocking scene.

The disturbing vision was filmed as part of the new nature series Our Planet and left many viewers horrified.

The scene shows dozens of walruses tumbling down a steep cliff in the Bering Strait, landing on the jagged rocks below.

The film crew were seen watching on in horror as the violent events played out before them.

There was immediate controversy about the graphic nature of the footage and whether or not it should have been included in the documentary.

The documentary showed multiple walruses tumbling down a cliff. Picture: Netflix
The documentary showed multiple walruses tumbling down a cliff. Picture: Netflix

 

The graphic nature of the scene left viewers in shock. Picture: Netflix
The graphic nature of the scene left viewers in shock. Picture: Netflix

Now the focus has turned to the cause of the mass death.

The documentary blamed the horrific event on climate change, with Atten­borough saying melting sea ice drove the animals to the edge of the cliff.

"Walruses' eyesight out of the water is poor, but they can sense the others down below; as they get hungry, they need to return to the sea," he said.

"In their desperation to do so, hundreds fall from heights they should never have scaled."

However, many people have since refuted that climate change was to blame, suggesting polar bears, drones or the crew could be responsible.

Zoologist Susan Crockford has claimed walruses dying from falling from cliffs is not an phenomenon and suggested polar bears likely caused the event.

 

Many have claimed the filmmakers lied about what actually caused the mass fall. Picture: Netflix
Many have claimed the filmmakers lied about what actually caused the mass fall. Picture: Netflix

"The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff," Ms Crockford wrote on her website.

"This is, of course, in addition to the bigger lie that lack of sea ice is to blame for walrus herds being onshore in the first place."

She claims the walruses were herded and chased over the cliff by polar bears and the crew used deceptive editing to leave that part out.

There was an incident in Russia in 2017 where polar bears were reported to have spooked a herd of walruses, causing them to fall off a cliff to their deaths.

The show’s producer has denied that polar bears were involved in the event. Picture: Netflix.
The show’s producer has denied that polar bears were involved in the event. Picture: Netflix.

Ms Crockford believes this is the event that was filmed by the documentary crew.

"The film crew have steadfastly refused to reveal precisely where and when they filmed the walrus deaths shown in this film in relation to the walrus deaths initiated by polar bears reported by The Siberian Times in the fall of 2017," she said.

The show's producer, Sophie Lanfear, refuted these claims on Twitter, saying "bears were not driving them off the cliffs" during the filming.

There have also been accusations that the film crew blocked the walruses exit and spooked the animals with their drones and other equipment.

A US Fisheries spokesman said walruses can flee en masse in response to "the sight, sound and especially odours from humans and machines", The Australian reported.

Ms Lanfear defended how the film crew acted around the animals.

"When approaching the walruses, we made sure we were downwind of them and that we could not be seen,'' she said.

"We only stood up when it was safe to do so and when we weren't at risk of scaring any walruses.''


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