Dubbed as ‘The Most Important Documentary of the Year,’ David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet has earned rave reviews for how well it showed our planet’s diminishing biodiversity over this well-loved natural historian’s lifetime. It was informative as it was emotional to journey through the 93 years of Sir David’s life on Earth, having seen first-hand the scale of human’s impact on the environment.
Of course, the main goal of this documentary is to be able to open the eyes of viewers — like you and me — to the harsh cold realities of our natural world. If you were moved by this special, then you might want to keep the momentum going with other nature documentaries that are just as inspirational and informative.
Netflix certainly has a good selection of these modern-day docs and we’ve handpicked a couple of the best ones that you can add to your watch list.
1. My Octopus Teacher
The title might seem a little absurd but give this one a chance and you’ll find yourself completely moved and perhaps, even emotional. This Netflix Original Documentary follows filmmaker Craig Foster as he captures over 300 days that he spent with a wild common octopus.
It all began when Foster started free-diving in False Bay, near Cape Town in South Africa back in 2010. He met this young female octopus and ended up following her to her den and tracking her movements for months. The whole film shows their day to day interactions, from the octopus defending herself against sharks to her mating with another octopus, and her eventual death after that. Viewers are privy to how Craig ends up gaining the octopus’ trust and allows him inside her world and her life under water.
It’s a mesmerizing and spellbinding documentary that would definitely give you a whole new perspective on this intelligent species. It’s also heartwarming to see how Craig relates his connection to this octopus to his real-life relationships, particularly with his son. And don’t say we didn’t warn you, but you may shed a tear or two in the end.
2. Brave Blue World: Racing to Solve Our Water Crisis
While a lot of nature documentaries focus on the crisis of wildlife extinction, another issue worth giving our attention to is our imminent water crisis. This is exactly what the Brave Blue World: Racing to Solve Our Water Crisis is all about.
Narrated by Liam Neeson and featuring Matt Damon and Jaden Smith — both of whom are involved with non-profit sustainable water organizations — this documentary is an honesty yet hopeful insight into how humanity can adopt new technologies and innovations in order to re-think how we manage our water systems and supply. Viewers will get to see how various strategies across are utilized to build a more sustainable future for mankind’s water supply.
3. Mission Blue
Despite being released back in 2014, the same issues featured here in this documentary are still the very same issues we’re dealing with to this day: water pollution, overfishing, and of course, climate change.
Mission Blue follows the work of Dr. Sylvia Earle, a remarkable marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, and the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In this particular doco, she’s seen on a quest to protect the ocean from serious threats like toxic waste and overfishing. Not only are her efforts truly commendable, but they are just as awe-inspiring, especially for those who are not fully aware of the real threats that our oceans are facing each and every single day — and how we should all get involved in protecting it in whatever way we can.
4. A Plastic Ocean
On a related note, A Plastic Ocean also dives deep into the threat of human waste and garbage polluting our seas and zeroes in on plastic and its long-term adverse effects.
This documentary follows a team up between journalist Craig Leeson and diver Tanya Streeter, plus an international team of scientists and researchers as they travel around twenty locations around the world to investigate plastic pollution’s environmental impact. It’s an incredible eye-opening look into how our daily choices greatly and directly affect our environment. This is something that a lot of people tend to turn a blind eye to but watching this documentary can certainly persuade people into making better choices with even the most mundane part of our daily living.
5. Our Planet
Considered as one of the most groundbreaking nature documentaries ever made, Our Planet provides a raw look at our planet’s natural beauty and how climate change threatens each and every living creature within their own respective habitats. Also worth mentioning? It’s narrated by none other than Sir David Attenborough himself as well.
This series features eight episodes, each of which focuses on a specific habitat: One Planet, Frozen Worlds, Jungles, Coastal Seas, From Deserts to Grasslands, The High Seas, Fresh Water, and Forests. From the music, to the visuals, to the narration, Our Planet gives a holistic view of the world that we live in yet not know much about. From day to day activities and interactions of animals to seeing how impactful climate change can be, Our Planet is a true must-watch documentary for those who are keen on seeing more of the various parts of this world that we don’t get to see much of, if not ever. Fair warning though — some scenes may be hard to stomach, but are necessary in painting a real image of what it’s like right now.
It’s still not confirmed whether or not Netflix will confirm Our Planet for a second season. But regardless, even this one season is more than enough to show a beautiful yet grim image of our wildlife’s future in the coming near future — and what we can do as human beings to stop it.
6. Kiss the Ground
From the ocean and the seas, we now take a closer look at our land and how we can make it more sustainable for the future. Kiss the Ground features science experts, as well as celebrity activists like Woody Harrelson, as they unearth the ways through which creating a more sustainable soil can unlock the key in balancing the climate, replenishing water supplies, and basically feeding humankind.
This nature documentary features a global movement called “Regenerative Agriculture,” and asks the question: Is our soil the Earth’s climate change savior? According to the directors, Regenerative Agriculture “is a way to use the planet’s own natural systems to rebalance our climate while meaningfully supporting the farmers and ranchers we all rely on every day.” This documentary goes in depth in showing how adopting this system may as well be the answer in renewing our planet’s ecosystems and pretty much tell the world that the answer was just right under our feet all this time.
7. How to Change the World
Another moving documentary that’s worth watching to get people moving is How to Change the World. It gives a close look into the efforts of an eclectic group of young pioneers who set out to stop Richard Nixon’s nuclear bomb tests in Amchitka, Alaska, eventually capturing the whole world and giving birth to the famed Greenpeace environmental organization.
How to Change the World gives viewers a peek inside this group of friends’ determination in standing up for what they believe is worth fighting for. It shows the earliest days of the Greenpeace and how these guys ended up improvising their way into creating this massive global green movement. Grainy footage aside, this documentary is an inspiring look into how a movement is born and how even a small group’s vision can move the whole world.