For 75 minutes directors Justin Smith and David Baker educate you about coral reefs and how their loss would negatively affect the planet and humans. They filmed it in different locations – Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Red Sea, and the Caribbean.
Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, the documentary focuses on the severe loss of coral reef ecosystems which has already happened in different parts of the world. Scientists have been working on the causes and trying to come up with solutions before it is too late. Tied in with climate change, it is one of the more important issues of our time.
What I learned as I got deeper into Saving Atlantis was how much the loss of coral reefs would affect humans. Entire communities depend on them for such things as food, tourism and shore protection. An estimated half a billion people rely on the coral systems. Millions of people around the world depend on coral reefs as their only source of protein. Medicines come from reefs.
Actually, I learned plenty about coral watching this. Before I was rather ignorant just knowing it was beautiful and important to the planet’s ecosystem. Now I know that coral is actually an animal. It is made up of polyps which allows single cell algae to live inside it. They reproduce by spawning. To anchor themselves they affix to the sea floor through calcium carbonate. It is the algae which gives the coral its colour. Different types of life flocks to these systems. Coral reefs are typically teeming with life when healthy. It is the equivalent of trees in a forest in that they allow other species to exist. Often called the rain forests of the oceans – that is how important they are. Biodiversity is the name of the game in this environment.
Over the past 50 yeas over half of the world’s coral has disappeared. Most of the loss can be attributed to human activity. The famous Great Barrier Reef near Australia has undergone mass bleaching. Bleaching happens when the water is too warm – climate change related. If our apathy to this continues most coral will be gone in the next generation. The pace which change is happening has not been allowing the corals to adapt as it has in the past.
Scientists are doing what they can by mapping coral microbes. They have even begun to study a coral reef in Columbia that has withstood over 500 years of human pressures. There is even thought of humans starting to breed coral.
The very human implications of these different stories are intertwined with the science involved. Science which is made extremely easy to understand. Plenty of conversations happen with the scientists working in this field. Their words and warnings carry plenty of weight. We see how hard they are working to preserve these wonders for future generations.
The documentary is now available on iTunes, Prime Video, Google Play, Vimeo, and other VOD platforms.