Corals are colorful and beautiful to look at
Corals are colorful and beautiful to look at but, who thought they are also amazing, small, living creatures. If your watch “Chasing Coral on Netflix” and you will get a whole new view on the world of Coral Reefs. In watching many movies and documentaries about diving and the marine environment, I have rarely seen a documentary that shows how we, as humans, with our behavior and treatment of our environment are destroying the oceans. Since we are all divers, we are interested in diving, marine life and the oceans; but, little did I realize that Corals in their full beauty and diversity in colors and forms, are not just beautiful and eye candy along with being decorative, but they also provide a vital function for the reefs.
We all know they play an important role for the Marine Ecosystem. But, it hasn’t been too long since scientists and activists have started to warn about the so-called “coral bleaching” – and about the disastrous impact this could have on the whole Earth.
The documentary “Chasing Coral”, which is offered on Netflix for streaming, tells the story about causes, the extent of the damage as well as impact this could have on the world.
Coral Bleaching: Global Warming kills corals.
Coral Bleaching is a step in the process of the dying animals, yes, corals are animals. Corals live in symbiosis with various forms of algae. In a bleaching event, the rid themselves of the algae to lessen the strain on the animal which results in the color loss or “bleaching.”What remains is a white skeleton. While corals can recover from a short-term event, the longer it lasts or the more frequent it occurs inflicts permanent damage to the coral colony. The main cause for is event is increased water temperature and/or strong sun radiation.
“Coral bleaching itself is a stress response, much like a fever in humans is a stress response. If the temperature spikes just a little bit above the normal range corals will start to bleach.” Dr. Ruth Gates, head of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at the University of Hawaii explains, Coral Bleaching is a stress reaction by the corals, sort of like a fever in a human body. Just a little rise in temperature is enough for the corals to start bleaching.
Over the past two decades, we have already seen two major coral bleaching events that were both caused by the weather phenomena El Niño. The current bleaching event however is the longest and most wide-spread so far. According to scientists the world has lost about half of all corals within the past 30 years we are told in “Chasing Coral”
What does all this have to do with us?
No matter what you believe about the Global Warming argument, we are all affected by the Earth’s warming trend. The rise of the oceans is a concern for islanders who see their land disappearing below the waves, and for others there are the severe weather disasters, hurricanes and floods. These are all impacts of global warming. The oceans play an important role in our lives because they absorb 93% of the heat in the atmosphere; and, because they are helping to moderate temperatures by absorbing the heat, the water temperatures in our seas have increased dramatically during the past couple of years.
Richard Vevers, founder and CEO of the NGO “The Ocean Agency” comments, “We look at climate change as if it is an issue in the air. And you go: one or two degrees Celsius, does that really matter? But when you talk about the ocean, it’s like your body temperature changing. And imagine your body temperature rises one degree centigrade or two degrees centigrade. Over a period of time that would be fatal. And that’s the seriousness of the issue when you look at it in terms of the ocean.”
In essence, the man-made climate change is essentially heating up the oceans which then leads to the dying of corals and a whole ecosystem. Raising awareness among all people was the driving force behind the documentary “Chasing Coral.”
Why we cannot afford to not to care!
Corals create reefs; these reefs are the home, food source and nursery for countless fish and other marine life. If corals die, whole habitats disappear. This does not just “mess up” the fragile balance within the oceans, a large portion of the world population depends on fish and other marine life as source of protein. A mass dying of fish could follow a mass coral dying which would dramatically affect the lives of millions of people.
But the health of a reef does not only affect the security of food sources, they break waves, calming down the ocean before it gets to the coastline. If these fringing reef die or disappear the sea conditions will change becoming more unpredictable and dangerous for people living and working along the shores. This is on top of the rising sea levels which we are already experiencing.
All of the places, we as divers enjoy traveling to, like Indonesia, Philippines, Palau, Maldives, Mexico, Caribbean islands, Samoa, French Polynesia and many more these coral reefs are a major source of income from tourism – without the corals and without the fish these places would lose tourism resulting in starvation and lowering an already low standard of living.
In the documentary, divers, scientists, filmmakers and coral nerds try to document the current worldwide coral bleaching events and coral deaths for those who otherwise would never see what’s happening underneath the surface of our oceans. The documentary took over 3 years to film and edit and included more than 500 hours under water and footage from more than thirty countries. Despite the technical as well as whether challenges the photographers were able to catch breath-taking footage of reefs before and after they died. Shockingly depressive are shots of whole reef ecosystems that are completely dead, where no life is left. It is incredibly disturbing to see that once the corals are dead the vibrant fish populations disappear as well.
There couldn’t have been a more perfect night to watch this movie!
We were watching this movie in the safety of our home with family and friends while the Hurricane Harvey flood aftermath was unfolding just right out at our doorstep. We were just experiencing one if not the most severe natural disaster the US has ever experienced, we were experiencing the sheer force of the effects of what is at least to some degree caused by the human impact on our environment. As I am writing this we are on day three of the disaster, many people have lost their homes, their belongings, their memories, some even their live or loved ones. This was day three of which they say is a five to seven-day stretch. Mother earth is teaching us a lesson those days what happens if we keep being careless.
I urge everyone to watch “Chasing Corals” unfortunately it is only available on Netflix there is no DVD. I invite everyone who does not have access to Netflix to come to Oceanic Ventures. Inc. and use our Netflix account to watch it in the classroom.