As an avid scuba diver, I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the destruction underwater, the damage human conduct is causing to the oceans. At one dive trip I felt I saw more plastics than fishes – a scenario that’s predicted to become a reality by 2050. The good news is that corals are highly endurable and prone to survive, if given the tiniest of chance. Which means, we can still change the faith of our oceans, we can still save the underwater world.
Yesterday I watched the award winning film “Chasing Coral“, a truly eye-opening documentary made in collaboration with WWF. The film shows the beauty of the underwater world, and its destruction. In other words, the reality. The team spent 3 years shooting the film, including support from underwater videographers and scientists around the world, and the outcome is stunning. Both in good and bad, as the shooting shows the true beauty of the coral reefs. The film explains their function and importance, and features the reality and feared future that the changing climate is causing.
Coral reefs don’t need to be saved for their beauty, for our recreational purposes. They need to be saved because the life in oceans, and lives of many people depend on them. That’s right, coral reefs are not just important for the marine life. People receive many benefits from coral reefs as well. It’s an ecosystem that protects coastlines from storms and erosion; provide jobs for local communities and are a source of food and even new medicines (yes, in addition to the recreational value which further brings economic benefits to many). Income, food, physical protection, cultural and recreational values – coral reefs are invaluable for so many reasons.
Coral reefs contain the most diverse ecosystem on the planet, and they are vulnerable to human action causing global warming. Ironically, coral reefs are also protecting humans from some of the impacts of global warming, as they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of waves and tropical storms.
I have a new mission for my next dive excursion. I will continue shooting the beautiful scenery and vibrant underwater life, but I will add to that the other side of the reality. I will no longer choose the best angles to feature the beauty, but the best angles to feature the reality. And that reality often includes plastics, bleached corals and little marine life. From now on, I will start showing the underwater world as it is, not as I would wish it to be.
Watch the Chasing Coral film and you’ll understand, too. And care.