Our Planet viewers are traumatised by the “horrific" walrus scene in the Netflix series

9 April 2019, 12:38 | Updated: 10 April 2019, 09:59

By Sam Prance

The walrus episode in Our Planet is upsetting viewers of the new Netflix show...

Our Planet viewers are heartbroken by the horrific walrus scene in the Netflix series.

Netflix may be best known for its hilarious comedies, hard-hitting dramas and heartwarming reality TV shows but the famous video streaming giant also hosts some incredible documentaries and docuseries. From Abducted In Plain Sight (terrifying) to Fyre (shocking), there's nothing that the service doesn't cover. Now Netflix is wowing audiences with its new nature documentary Our Planet. That being said there is one walrus episode that is upsetting viewers.

What is the walrus scene in Our Planet and why is it so distressing?

Our Planet: The walrus scene in the Netflix series explained
Our Planet: The walrus scene in the Netflix series explained. Picture: Netflix

Our Planet is a docuseries hosted by environmental king David Attenborough. In it, Attenborough explores the wildlife of our planet and the ways in which we're harming wildlife through climate change. At the end of episode 2 of the series, Frozen Worlds, David focuses on the walrus population of Russia and he reveals that they are dying because the ice, which they used to call home, has melted and the land, which they now live on, is severely overpopulated.

It gets even more heartbreaking, though. Not only are the walruses crushing each other by simply moving, they're also falling to their deaths. In an attempt to find space, many walruses climb the cliffs surrounding the land they live on. Not only is this a strain on their bodies but it also means that when they need to return to the sea for food they often try jumping from the cliffs and in doing so kill themselves. The scene is harrowing.

Speaking about the scene with the New York Times, Our Planet producer, Sophie Lanfear, said: “The walrus scenes were the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness or film in my career." She also went on to explain exactly why they were so difficult for her to film: "I was expecting that perhaps the walruses would tumble down, but at the end, they’d be okay. I really wasn’t prepared for the scale of death."

She then added: “What we think is going on is that the ones at the top can probably hear the ones in the water, and they can sense that there is water below. They teeter on the edge, and they just can’t work out how to get down there.“A small group of maybe six or seven would make it down safely, and we’d all celebrate. But the vast majority do not. They basically walk themselves off the cliff.”

Naturally, many viewers are traumatised.

However, there has been some backlash to the scene. While many viewers have commended Our Planet for exposing how we are destroying our planet and teaming up with WWF and real scientists, others are calling the series out for "emotional manipulation". According to zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, the seals were climbing cliffs to flee polar bears and not as a result of climate change.

Speaking to the Telegraph, she said that the scene is “contrived nonsense”. Environmentalist and Greenpeace co-founder, Patrick Moore also tweeted about the scene by writing: “This must be the most ridiculous thing ever ascribed to “climate change". As it stands, Netflix are yet to respond to the backlash surrounding the scene.

What did you think of the scene?