Review: What was missing from the film "Chasing Coral"

 A patch of Elkhorn Coral off of Key Largo. Now a rare sight. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

A patch of Elkhorn Coral off of Key Largo. Now a rare sight. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

I just recently watched the film Chasing Coral and was amazed by this visually stunning journey into the world of coral reefs and the challenges they are facing. This powerful, eye opening documentary was extremely effective in many ways, and yet, was lacking in one very important area which I'll get to shortly. 

First, a list of things the film did very, very well:

 The Blacktip Reef Shark relies on the coral reefs for its survival. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

The Blacktip Reef Shark relies on the coral reefs for its survival. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

-Jaw dropping visuals. It was loaded with incredible scenes of the reefs, corals, fish, landscapes, and people. The cinematography was beautiful and sometimes heart wrenching. People respond to visuals and this film delivered the goods. 

-Conveying the message. The makers were able to do something very difficult by illustrating highly complex concepts in a way that makes sense to the average viewer. From the biology of corals to the causes of global warming  and how it affects the reefs, they made it easy to understand. 

-Entertaining. The story had a good pace and the people in the film were interesting and engaging. This, combined with the visuals never left me feeling like I'd had enough. 

-Impactful. They really drove home the point of the film which is that the world's coral reefs are in trouble, that it is something that affects all life including humans, and that something MUST be done. 

But what?.....

 Coral reefs provide refuge for beautiful and unique animals like the Moray Eel. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

Coral reefs provide refuge for beautiful and unique animals like the Moray Eel. Photo: Curtis Whitwam

This is where I felt a bit let down by Chasing Coral. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing and I loved it, but I really felt that after watching it, people will want to know what they should do. To their credit, though not covered in depth in the film, the Chasing Coral website has an action guide to read over with some good suggestions. 

Below, I have compiled a short list of ways that we can all help to save coral reefs:

 Sea Turtles such as the Hawksbill not only rely on coral reefs, but actually help benefit the corals and other organisms by eating sponges. Original painting: Curtis Whitwam

Sea Turtles such as the Hawksbill not only rely on coral reefs, but actually help benefit the corals and other organisms by eating sponges. Original painting: Curtis Whitwam

In order for corals to survive, we must work to reverse the warming trends happening in the world's oceans. 

-Support clean energy solutions such as solar, wind, electric cars, and efficient energy use with your dollars and your votes. 

-Support coral repopulation efforts. There are currently several coral repopulation projects in locations throughout the world that are successfully growing, reproducing, and repopulating resilient corals. We need more of these farms in order to make a difference. 

-Buy less animal products. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. Eating more plants is not only healthier for you, but also healthier for the planet. 

-Reduce your need for single use plastics. Plastic consumption drives up demand for fossil fuels . Choose reusable bottles, bags, cutlery, cups, straws, and more.

-Maximize fuel efficiency when traveling by maintaining your vehicle well with properly inflated tires and regular oil changes. Also by carpooling, using mass transit, biking, and walking. 

-In the home, choose energy efficient appliances and lighting. Also run your thermostat slightly higher in summer and a little cooler in winter. A little goes a long way when we all participate. 

-Ask your leaders to support clean energy solutions. From your Mayor, Commissioners, and Governor all the way to your Senators, Representatives, and President, make your voice HEARD!

I'd like to express a huge thank you to the creators of Chasing Coral. Their dedication and hard work manifested into an extremely impactful piece of cinema. May their message be heeded. 

The reefs are depending on us! Will you do your part?

Stay inspired!

Curtis