Chasing Coral: Documenting the Need for Change

image credit: Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Maybe you’ve heard of coral reef death or bleaching, but do you understand what coral reefs are or why this matters? If not, the documentary Chasing Coral is here to help. And even if you think you understand, you’re likely to find the film illuminating.

The film’s director, Jeff Orlowski, got the idea for this project when he noticed the extinction of his favorite ocean creature. With more research, he found out millions of sea creatures were disappearing due to coral reef collapse. As the severity of the situation dawned on him, he realized that many were unaware of this crisis. So he decided to bring this issue up from the depths of the ocean and onto our TV screens.

In the same style as Chasing Ice, which focuses on climate change’s impact on melting glaciers, Chasing Coral documents the effects of climate change by showing the rapid die-off of coral reefs. It also shows why we should care.

Coral reefs are like the forests of the ocean, providing homes to countless other organisms. But coral reefs cannot survive the ocean’s rising temperatures. Neither can the creatures who rely on them. To relate it to life on the land – it’s as if whole forests collapsed, all at once. Worse, the die-off of these vital marine ecosystems will result in cascading ecological collapse. This could make the world inhospitable not only for marine life, but the vast majority of life on earth, including us.

This movie, while devastating, is also a pleasure to watch. The filmmakers and researchers are passionate about what they do. Their love of coral is infectious, their concern for the world relatable. However, this movie shows that the old documentaries that bring the wonders of the world to your living room are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It is near impossible to watch a movie about the environment, without a reminder that much of what is beautiful and precious is disappearing.

But rather than mourn these losses, it’s up to us to fight for our planet’s future. The film ends by showing that the story is not over – we can save these creatures and our planet, if we make a real fight to end climate change. And with this, we agree wholeheartedly.