One of the most powerful ways to increase awareness of our planet and inspire us to get involved in efforts to protect it is through nature documentaries. With the help of talented filmmakers and cutting-edge technology, we can witness parts of the world we may never see in person. From footage of polar bears roaming the arctic tundra to blue whales migrating across our vast oceans, these films inspire us, challenge us to think with compassion, respect our planet, and be an agent for change. Grab some popcorn, get comfy, and enjoy these eight amazing nature documentaries you can stream now.
"Our Planet" (2019)
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running Time: 8 Episodes (48–53 minutes each)
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, Salma Hayek, and Penélope Cruz, "Our Planet" was shot in Ultra HD in over 50 countries. It will open your eyes to see just how connected we all are. This series showcases how beautiful — but also how fragile — our natural world really is. The filmmakers worked closely with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness about climate change and conservation efforts to fix these issues before it’s too late.
"Planet Earth II" (2016)
Running Time: 6 episodes (50 minutes each)
If you enjoyed BBC’s "Planet Earth," its sequel will take you on an entirely new journey. Ten years after the award-winning original, "Planet Earth II" takes you to new places (and some familiar ones) to show you some of the most amazing survival stories ever witnessed. Filmed from the viewpoint of the animals, this series takes you closer to nature than ever before and offers an intimate look at the lives of some incredible species. "Planet Earth II" also examines how city-dwelling animals thrive on the margins of urban life. Learn about the leopards of Mumbai, India and the hyenas of Harar, Ethiopia as they try to coexist in the human world.
"Blue Planet II" (2017)
Running Time: 7 episodes (50 minutes each)
Iconic narrator Sir David Attenborough returns to the seas to take viewers on an unforgettable voyage into the seemingly endless depths of our oceans. "Blue Planet II" is the sequel to the award-winning series "Blue Planet" and takes a serious look at how humans have negatively impacted our oceans through pollution and climate change. Cutting-edge technology allows us to explore the largest ecosystem on the planet — the ocean. "Blue Planet II" also features a fantastic soundtrack developed by Hans Zimmer and Radiohead.
"Free Solo" (2018)
Running Time: 100 minutes
If you didn’t get a chance to see this thrilling documentary in theaters, you can now stream "Free Solo" on Hulu. "Free Solo" took home the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and has wowed audiences all over the planet. The film is a stunning and intimate look at solo climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream of climbing the face of the treacherous El Capitan at Yosemite National Park — without the help of a rope. While less nature-focused than some of the other entries on this list, "Free Solo" is a triumph of the human spirit set in some of the most fantastic landscapes on Earth.
"Night on Earth" (2020)
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running Time: 6 Episodes (41–53 minutes each)
Samira Wiley narrates "Night on Earth," a groundbreaking nature series that shines light on a world that was once hidden by the veil of night. Take an unprecedented peek into the hidden lives of nature’s nocturnal creatures. From lions on the hunt in Africa to the remarkable creatures and insects that call the jungle canopy home, remarkable video technology allows viewers see what animals are up to after hours. Each episode of "Night on Earth" explores a different habitat and shows us how surviving in the dark shapes animals in different ways.
"Ice on Fire" (2019)
Where to Watch: HBO
Running Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Produced and narrated by environmentalist and Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, "Ice on Fire" is a must-see documentary that sends an urgent warning to all of us on the consequences of climate change. The film explores the possibility of a catastrophic life-altering event caused by arctic methane release and warns us to follow proven, safe, and cutting-edge solutions designed to slow down our accelerating environmental crisis. "Ice on Fire" explores pioneering research behind today’s climate science and the innovations designed to reduce carbon in our atmosphere. These efforts will help pave the way for a decline in the rise of global temperatures and benefit all life on our planet.
"Seven Worlds, One Planet" (2019)
Running Time: 7 Episodes (60 minutes each)
Sir David Attenborough's "Seven Worlds, One Planet" is a sweeping documentary that focuses on the ecosystems on each of the seven continents and how they shape animal behavior and biodiversity. This eye-opening series will take you on a journey through a planet you thought you knew. Using drone footage and hidden cameras, you’ll get to explore 41 countries and witness diverse climates and animal life. From puma mothers prowling for prey in Patagonia to elusive monkeys roaming the mountain forests of China, "Seven Worlds, One Planet" will leave you with a whole new perspective on the world in which we share with our wildlife friends.
"The Ivory Game" (2016)
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running Time: 1 hour and 52 minutes
Executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio introduces a moving documentary that sheds light on the horrific practice of elephant tusk poaching. Ivory is a prized status symbol in some cultures and "The Ivory Game" uncovers the deep-rooted corruption at the heart of the global ivory trafficking crisis. Efforts to stop the madness are working. Since its release, some of the poachers from the documentary have been caught and sent to prison. However, as long as ivory is considered valuable, vulnerable wildlife and a fragile ecosystem are going to be at risk of extinction. "The Ivory Game" calls us to help save the beloved African elephant.
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