Richard Vevers has travelled the world documenting the disintegration of coral reefs. The Netflix feature length documentary Chasing Coral explores the evidence collected from these journeys and what it could mean for the future of our planet.
Long fascinated by the wonders and mysteries of the underwater kingdom, Vevers became troubled by the diminishing quantities of sea life he would witness over the course of his multiple underwater excursions. Once vibrant coral reefs – the structures that aid immeasurably in protecting biodiversity and survival both on land and sea – were becoming bleached and withered. He enlisted the assistance of scientists, marine biologists, divers and other oceanic enthusiasts. He tapped the creative team behind the similarly themed Chasing Ice – the 2012 documentary that focused on the melting of the world’s glaciers – and set out to pinpoint the progression of this destruction. A series of complicated camera rigs were devised in order to capture photographic evidence of this phenomenon.
Their findings are harrowing. Up to 80% of coral reef structures across the Florida Keys have eroded, a trend that is being echoed in ocean masses all over the world. The signs of their demise are apparent with the appearance of bleaching, a process that was first discovered in the 1980s and began to reach global prominence during the late 90’s. This is the result of rising sea temperatures. Just a degree or two of sustained warming can destroy the coral reef’s ability to survive and serve its crucial functions. In another 25 years, if these temperatures continue to rise unabated, an entire ecosystem might become a thing of the past.
The film features a wealth of jaw-dropping underwater photography. The interview subjects describe the intricacies of coral reefs with great acuity and illustrate the connection we should all feel with the natural world that serves us.
But above all else, Chasing Coral is designed to serve as a call to activism. The filmmakers and their extended team have used their underwater imagery to educate others on the crisis. In the process, they’ve built a global coalition which is devoted to combatting the ill effects of climate change. The film is an invitation to join this worthy movement.
Directed by: Jeff Orlowski