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Review: Chasing Coral

photos courtesy: The Ocean Agency – XL Catlin Seaview Survey (Richard Vevers)

Captivating characters explain their love for the ocean
and the life within it.

Chasing Coral (Netflix)
Jeff Orlowski
Producer: Larissa Rhodes
Co-Producer: Stacey Piculell
Cast: Richard Vevers, Zackery Rago, Dr. John “Charlie” Veron, Trevor Mendelow, Andrew Ackerman, Dr. Ruth Gates

Chasing Coral follows divers as they explore the recent environmental impact of global warming on coral reefs. With a large focus on the documentation of ‘bleaching,’ Richard Vevers explains the scientific reasoning behind the destruction of coral reefs worldwide. In the film, bleaching is explained as a process that living corals take to protect themselves against increased temperatures. To protect themselves from temperature rises as small as 1⁰C, corals will expel the living algae in their tissues. The stress on the corals is shown externally as the once brightly coloured corals quickly change to white. Director Jeff Orlowski wanted to document the changes of coral bleaching around the world so that the information could be presented to the public in a powerful way.

The crew faced months of major setbacks and minor successes.

Documentation of the bleaching was more challenging than expected. The crew faced months of major setbacks and minor successes as they developed the film equipment required to record the reef’s degradation. As the film follows the crew, they run into numerous seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and find themselves losing hope. However, the crew’s dedication and devotion only grows.

Orlowski and his film crew worked for over three years and captured over 500 hours of footage that was trimmed and edited to produce the 93-minute Netflix original documentary. The film itself displays stunning graphic images of a world unseen. Captivating characters explain their love for the ocean and the life within it. One particularly intriguing character was Zackery Rago. Zackery was a self-proclaimed “coral nerd” who spent the majority of his life studying the unique bioform. To feed his interest in corals, he had a fish tank with no fish.


While Zackery and the rest of the crew explain their interest in the ocean, the audience begins to realize the ocean’s significance in our daily lives. This is when the film takes a dark turn. We follow the cast through vast sections of coral reefs that have been bleached and are now dying. This is when the cast explains the importance of documenting the rapid and unpredictable changes, so that society can relate to the urgency of the situation. Is there still enough time to reduce our environmental impact before every reef in the world dies?

Perhaps you need convincing that a 1⁰C increase in average temperature is significant enough to count as “global warming,” or maybe you need a reminder about why it’s important to recycle your coffee cups, or you simply just need a new show to help you procrastinate from your final assignments. In any case, Chasing Coral is your solution! The carefully crafted, Netflix documentary has stunning images of the ocean that you’ve never seen and contains enough educational information to help you ignore that guilty feeling you get when procrastinating from your work.