A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Very rich information about migrating species, though the focus rests mainly on fish. Scientific details abound -- like the magnetic pull that guides salmon traveling to their home streams, or the hammer head sharks that seek out mates in hidden reefs.
Nature is mysterious and powerful. Working together ensures survival. Even animal, reptile, and fish parents make sacrifices for the wellbeing of their offspring. It's important to reduce our human footprint in order to allow nature to take its course.
Positive Role Models
Families of orcas work together to feed each other. Female turtles travel many miles to lay eggs that will carry on their breed.
Violence & Scariness
A baby whale is killed by killer whales as the mother tries to protect it during migration. Birds eat fish, pecking their eyes out while they eat. Bears strip skin and muscle off of salmon while they feed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Instead of using words like breeding or mating, the narrator talks about the "sex life" of sharks. Female hammerhead sharks show bite marks as "testaments to mating." There is footage of turtles mating, while other male turtles try to "muscle in." When the females lay eggs, the "victor will mark his triumph by squirting sperm over the freshly laid eggs."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the movement of species across the globe is documented in Migrations: The Big Swim. Fact-rich information about migration patterns of ocean life (in particular) abounds. However, narration teeters from nature-documentary-normal into slightly mature territory when the sex lives of fish and turtles are examined. Hammerhead sharks are said to be shy, though when they hang about certain reefs, female sharks exhibit bitemarks as "testaments to mating." Male sockeye salmon are shown to be "pumped up" to "impress the girls," who are busy laying eggs. The "eager males" gather and fight to be "top of the line" to be the first in line to fertilize the eggs. Parents may need to be ready to explain a few things to younger viewers. Violence includes a baby whale killed by orcas, turning the waves red. Cranes pluck the eyes out of a fish, while bears strip salmon of their skin and muscle.
Is It Any Good?
As far as nature documentaries go, this one checks a lot of boxes, but it is quite heavy on the discussion of animal sexual habits. Talking about mating or breeding comes across as kinda creepy when it's referred to as a turtle's "sex life." Why is it that their fertilization process is outlined in graphic human terms? On one hand, it's "relatable," but on the other, it's a little much for younger kid viewers.
There are poetic moments, as in the opening scene when the narrator wonders if migrating animals "follow a map born of DNA." Also lovely is the detailing of the important role decaying salmon play in nourishing the fresh-water forests when they die, tying together a great circle of life. But the gaffes regarding the "sex life" of these creatures distract -- and ultimately disappoint.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.