News

    Film Explores Decline of Coral Reefs

    Pollution, overfishing destroy 20 percent of world’s reefs

    Jelly Fish Lake is an ancient marine habitat containing millions of jellyfish on the island nation of Palau.
    Jelly Fish Lake is an ancient marine habitat containing millions of jellyfish on the island nation of Palau.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    By focusing its lens on coral reefs, “The Last Reef 3D: Cities Beneath the Sea,” turns the ocean’s tiniest creatures into movie stars.

    The new film explores how this habitat, which shelters nearly a quarter of Earth’s marine life and provides food for billions of people, is under siege from overfishing, urban and industrial pollution and rising ocean temperatures.

    The movie captures the drama of daily life from  Palau, French Polynesia to the Bahamas and Mexico. Filmmakers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas didn’t just want to make a beautiful film; they also wanted to make a responsible one.


    “If you want to protect something you have to first appreciate it,” says Cresswell.  

    McNicholas adds, “What we wanted to do was show the range and breadth and diversity of life and how all these things interconnect and how losing one element will have a domino effect for that whole ecosystem.”

    We take a dip into a marine lake with millions of jellyfish on the Island nation of Palau in the South Pacific. Elsewhere we watch large ocean predators and tiny denizens of the sea like the strangely alien nudibranch and Christmas tree worms.

    Shooting the film in 3-D using special macro, or close-up lenses, adds a powerful visual impact on the giant screens found in many science museums.

    “The Last Reef” also shows that reefs are in serious decline.

    Reefs are suffering “from impacts related to climate change, the warming sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification and land-based sources of pollution and overfishing,” according to John Christensen, director of the Coral Reef Conservation program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    These threats have destroyed 20 percent of the world’s reefs and another 20 percent are likely to decline significantly by 2030, he says. “So not only do we see more dead coral in places that are in serious decline, we see a reduction in biodiversity at large.”

    McNicholas and Cresswell hope their film both educates audiences and motivates them to get involved in efforts to save the reefs. A recurring theme is the connection between the cities we live in and those under the sea on which we depend.

    Making of "The Last Reef"


    “I think that if you’re using time lapses and aerials in a city, it makes you look at the city in a different way," Cresswell says. "You look at the collection of people and you look at the collection of buildings and that helps you look at the reefs.”

    These two worlds join in an undersea park in Mexico filled with hundreds of life-sized sculptures cast from real people and objects. The sculptures become the base for a new marine habitat. As children dive in to swim among the art works, the film ends with the message that preserving the coral reefs is “a responsibility we cannot ignore.”

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Molly
    April 21, 2012 7:46 AM
    What an amazing film...saw at The Smithsonian last month. It was beautifully done!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora