Chasing Coral is a profound documentary that has been a long time in the making. Made by the crew that brought us Chasing Ice, the team at Exposure Labs went to the ends of the earth to document the alarming rate of coral bleaching, using high technology and good old fashioned hard work.
If you’re reading this you already know about coral bleaching, but you might not know that the last couple years have been a few of the worst with mass die off of corals all over the world. Coincidentally, the Chasing Coral crew was doing their shooting at precisely the time when the Great Barrier Reef was experiencing some of its worst bleaching on record, and the footage they captured is deeply moving and borderline disturbing.
Chasing Coral dropped on Netflix last week and I procrastinated watching it right away because I knew there’d be a lot of dead and dying corals in the movie – the last thing I want to watch – but it was still important to see what the movie’s overall message turned out to be. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to overstate the alarming speed at which corals are dying, and corals reefs and becoming devoid of corals.
The real danger to corals, the predominant threat to coral reefs, is the high temperatures caused by climate change, which are only predicted to get worse, and warmer. Even if we somehow miraculously stopped emitting carbon into the atmosphere today, the climate would continue warming for at least a decade!
There is no silver lining to this story; the sad truth is that virtually all shallow water, reef-building corals that build the underwater cities where fish live are in danger, and models predict a near-complete wipeout by 2050. The only hope we have for coral reefs is to try to discover, identify and protect healthy reefs which have a chance at surviving through the generation-long heatwave coming our way.
Despite all the alarms, very few people care enough to get involved and there is only one initiative to try and form a last stand against the wipeout of coral reefs, the 50 Reefs initiative. Of all the oceans, 50 Reefs is trying to identify 50 most important reefs to put into intensive conservation status and try to hold on to some of the reef life which could reseed other locations in the distant future.