In winter, the temperate seas are lashed by violent storms.
The turbulence stirs the water and draws nutrients up from the depths.
But nutrients alone cannot support life, the must also be sunlight.
In the spring, as the sun daily climbs higher in the sky, the algae start to grow.
Blooms the size of the Amazon rainforest turn the seas green.
Individually, the algae are tiny. but together they produce three quarters of all the oxygen in our atmosphere.
They're eaten by an array of bewildering creatures. Salps appear in the plankton soup.
Individuals link together to form chains which can stretch for 15 metres.
Pumping water through their bodies, they strain out algae and other edible particles.
comb jellies cruise through the water. They, too, flourish in this seasonal soup and for short periods they appear in astounding numbers.
Krill, shrimp-like creatures, by weight, they're the most abundant animals on the planet. a single swarm can contain two million tons of them, and that is a lot of fish food.
The shallow temperate seas support the greatest concentrations of fish on our planet. Huge shoals migrate from their overwintering grounds in the depths, to feed in these rich waters.
It's these shoals that support most of the world's sea mammals, sea lions have all the agility and speed needed to collect what they want and seemingly delight in doing so.
Dusky dolphin, often in pods 200 strong, work together to reap the harvest. They break up the shoals into smaller, more manageable balls and all the hunters benefit.
By midsummer, the surface nutrients have all been absorbed. The algae die and the food chain collapses, in a few special places, however, the temperate seas sustain these levels of life throughout the summer.
Along the coast of California, ocean currents carry a constant supply of nutrients up from the depths to the surface layers. These upwellings fertilise forests of giant kelp that thrive in the summer sunshine. The algal towers are as high as a three-storey house and they can grow by half a metre a day.
Life in the kelp is as full of drama as in any other forest, but the cast is less of familiar.
An army of sea urchins is mounting an attack, The urchin plague strikes at the kelps' holdfasts, their crucial attachments to the rock.
holdfasts are extremely tough, but each urchin has five teeth, which are self-sharpening and are replaced every few months.
urchins fell vast areas of kelp forest, creating clearings known as urchin barrens, yet "barren" is a poor description.
millions of invertebrates invade the seabed. The most fearsome predator here is a giant, the sunflower starfish is a metre across, with an appetite for brittle stars.
It used its feet to taste for prey. When its actions are speeded up, it becomes clear that the predator's fondness for the brittle stars , is almost matched by the brittle stars' ability to get out of the way.
Sand dollars, flat sea urchins, cluster together as a defence, but it doesn't seem to work against the sunflower starfish. The predator extrudes its stomach and wraps it around its victims, liquefying their soft parts, nothing is left of them except their white skeletons.