Chasing Coral

The ocean only has to warm about two degrees for coral to die, and guess what? The ocean is warming and the coral is dying. Much of it is dead already. It’s not just sad because we’re losing a beautiful animal; coral is vital to our ocean’s ecosystems, and when coral dies, so do many other species in the ocean, and it’s only a matter of time before we ourselves feel dire repercussions. Coral are the trees of the ocean, and their extinction en masse cannot and will not go unnoticed. The question is: will we notice before it’s too late?

One diver, Richard Vevers, realizes the ocean has a bit of an advertising issue: it’s out of sight, and largely out of mind. But if he could find a way to show us at home what’s going on beneath the waves, might we pay attention? Inspired by the film Chasing Ice, which captured the receding glaciers through years of time-lapse, Richard thought the same MV5BODA5ODAyNjk5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ3NTE5MDI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,785_AL_technique could be applied to the reefs, so he called up director Jeff Orlowski, and an idea was born.

Underwater time lapse meant nothing short of a new invention was necessary. A whole team built special cameras that could exist in salt water for months a time, in the cold, under great depth and pressure, subject to storms, and needing not only to be wiped clean regularly, but to host a router that would send the images back. This is how they meet Zackery Rago, who’s part of the camera building team but also has a secret passion for coral. They position their cameras in the reefs of Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, but nature and technology conspire against them. In the end, it’s necessary for them to go down and record this massive bleaching event themselves.

Another lesson learned: watching a beautiful animal die is hard. Watching them practically go extinct is wrenching. 2016 was a bad year for coral. 29% of the Great Barrier Reef died in 2016 alone. In 30 years, we could lose it all. White coral is a shock, of course. The white is the coral’s exposed skeleton. Death is imminent. Dead coral is even sadder, devoid of any life or colour.  While the time lapse originally meant that they could observe this happening from a distance, the modified plan of divers capturing the footage themselves means they are confronted with this death and dying in person, and they find that quite devastating. I think you will too and I think you should watch anyway.

Kristen Bell recorded a song specifically for use in the film. She feels strongly about the film’s message, but I think the hope is that we all will, and feel galvanized into action. You can start with Vever’s The Ocean Agency and suggestions found at Chasing Coral. But I think just not turning away from this is the important thing.

 

 

 

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17 thoughts on “Chasing Coral

  1. Lorna Cunningham-Rushton

    I’m having to take less time on the computer, and I’m trying to clean up my daily and lifelong life, so I may not be reading you or responding but I do want to continue to be able to make the choice.

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  2. Divorce With Me

    Thank you SO much for recommending this! I actually sat with my 8 yr old daughter and we watched half today. We’re going to finish tomorrow.

    I just finished snorkeling over the weekend in the (FL) keys and found some amazing coral and sea life in an area many people don’t go. It’s such an incredible experience to see what goes on below our waters. I want to do my part to help preserve it. And I want to teach my children and students the same. Docs like this really help and get the message across in a much more effective way than just lecturing those around us. Now it’s time to figure out how to act! Can’t wait to finish it! Thanks again! 😘

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh how fantastic to sit with your kids to watch something like this. And I agree that showing versus telling is much more effecting, and it’s also great to end on a positive note and make people feel like there’s something smallt hey can do to help.

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  3. Christopher

    What’s most depressing about the loss of coral is that reefs like the Great Barrier Reef have been growing more or less interrupted for millions of years. Coral is vital, but it’s also very slow-growing.
    It’s also very slow to adapt, and that’s an even bigger problem, but the fact that the filmmakers here could invent a whole new kind of camera says a lot about how adaptable we humans are. And if we’re going to survive we’re going to have to adapt in ways that will at least halt, if not reverse, the damage we’ve already done.

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    1. Jay Post author

      It’s slow-growing but fast to die, shockingly fast! It’s home to so many species I really don’t think we can afford to let it go so we need to start preserving but yes, also looking ahead to how we can protect it in the future. We’ve already lost so much.

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