Caitlin White
Updated May 28, 2020 @ 5:13 pm
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Credit: NHFU/William Steel, National Geographic

Now that we’re all practicing social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s normal to get a little cabin fever. As today is Earth Day, it’s even harder not to be able to get out and celebrate Mother Nature. While it’s not the time to travel the world or visit aquariums and nature preserves, we have to get creative about how we can still explore our natural world. Thankfully, Disney+ has joined forces with National Geographic to give us nature documentaries that feel like a breath of fresh air.

We totally understand if you were too distracted by old-school Disney Channel original movies and reboots of your favorite classics to even see National Geographic's catalog. But trust us: It’s a treasure trove. You probably already know about Meghan Markle’s Elephant documentary for charity, but it’s a must-watch. (Find Elephant here.)Plus, in honor of Earth Day, Disney+ today released Jane Goodall: The Hope, a two-hour special following the famous activist on her travels.

That’s not all, though: Dive into the planet’s oceans to follow sharks and blue whales. Look into the sky for butterfly migrations and exotic birds. Travel to remote landscapes to see the badass animals who survive there. And, yes, squeal at the total adorableness of unlikely animal friendships. (We need these things now!)

Subscribe to Disney+ here. Then scroll through to see our picks for must-watch nature documentaries. Please report back on the most amazing things you saw.

Great Migrations

While we’re all busy staying put, we can watch animals across the planet on their migration journeys. This National Geographic docuseries follows different species through their often-harrowing, life-depends-on-it migrations, including penguins, desert elephants, crabs, sperm whales, wildebeests, and more. If you’re into a more zen, meditative moment, episode 6 is narration-free and full of gorgeous nature imagery.

One Strange Rock

This is no ordinary nature documentary. One Strange Rock is a 10-episode docuseries that tells the story of life on Earth from the perspective of the only people who have truly left it: astronauts. The visuals are straight-up stunning. Then again, of course they are. Darren Aronofsky, who directed Black Swan and Mother!, directs and the award-winning Jane Root produces. If you need any further reason to watch, Will Smith narrates and hosts.

America’s National Parks

Each episode of this six-episode nature docuseries centers on a different national park in America, so pick your fave or explore them all. (The above video of the firefly light show is from the “Great Smoky Mountains” episode.) If you want to go even deeper, five national parks are offering virtual tours while we all practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sea of Hope: America’s Underwater Treasures

Badass and beloved oceanographer Sylvia Earl sets out to educate and inspire people across the globe to protect Earth’s oceans in this short documentary movie. Sea of Hope helped inspire Barack Obama (who appears in the film) to create “blue parks” to safeguard the oceans and marine wildlife.

Journey to Shark Eden

Shark Week can be every week with Disney+ and National Geographic’s shark content. A standout is Journey to Shark Eden, a documentary that follows scientists studying sharks in the “pristine reefs” off of remote islands near Tahiti. If you, too, dream of being stranded on a remote island near Tahiti, spoiler alert: That actually happens to this researcher crew.

Unlikely Animal Friends

If adorable animal content is getting you through social distancing, you must watch National Geographic’s docuseries Unlikely Animal Friends. Just try to say you’re not here for learning about a sheep and rhinoceros who are BFF. Or are you more into the dog and wild fawn who are soulmates? This is the positive content we need in these times.

Wild Russia

You can head across the globe to explore the varied flora and fauna of Russia right from your home. The four-episode docuseries traverses some of the most extreme landscapes you could imagine and focuses on the animals who are strong enough to survive.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, HelloGiggles is committed to providing accurate and helpful coverage to our readers. As such, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.