A visually stunning and emotionally arresting film that warns us of the dangers of remaining oblivious to the impact we have on our coral reefs. 

Chasing Coral is not an easy watch. Directed by Jeff Orlowski and featuring a cast of marine biologists, cameramen, an ex ad-man turned environmentalist, and a ‘coral nerd’, the film follows they team’s efforts as they attempt to invent the first time-lapse camera to record the diabolical reef bleaching destroying our underwater ecosystems.

The film represents the first venture for Exposure Labs, formed by Orlowski to maximise the impact of the film which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2017, following the success of his previous venture, Chasing Ice. Now streaming on Netflix, Chasing Coral has a far greater platform through which to illuminate the shocking destruction of the underwater world caused by climate change at the hands of the ignorance of human population.

It’s hard not to be taken aback by the effervescence of the underwater world we have ignored, driven home with powerful and mystical imagery that positively bounces off the screen with fluorescence more suited to the planet Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar than our own planet Earth.

Most arresting is how oblivious we are to the destruction of the reefs. So often we hear about the felling of the rainforests and the on-land impact of global warming; soon to be once again drilled into the public consciousness through the formidable and singular impetus of Al Gore in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. But it’s underwater that the devastation of our addiction to plastic dumping and fossil fuel pollution is having its most un-acknowledged impact; within the next thirty years, most of the world’s corals will be bleached.

And what does that mean exactly? Due to rising temperatures caused by global warming, the corals are quite literally rotting. In one of the most powerful scenes, sliding images reveal the shocking before and after results of rising sea temperatures on the reefs. Once bright and living, the organisms are reduced to limp, white carcasses.

The sheer emotionality of coral science geek, Zackery Rago at the sight of fluorescent reefs in their final throws of life is difficult to watch, whilst just metres above the waves is a floating restaurant full to the brim of people blissfully unaware of the tragic transformation of life just moments beneath their feet. The fervent campaigning of Richard Vevers, once in advertising until a change of heart led him to establish The Ocean Agency, is a joy to watch.

To accompany the breathtaking images captured by the cameramen, embattled at every turn by technical glitches and the brute force of mother nature, is an imposing score from Dan Romer and Saul Simon MacWilliams which underlines the visual power of the film with aplomb.

Chasing Coral offers both a depressing reflection of our own misdeeds and their impact on the ecosystem which has lent us so much, from its startling beauty to its cancer-curing benefits, and an  eye opening exploration of an underwater world that so many of us (and even the experts themselves admit the same) know so little about.

At the same time, it retains the positivity of spirit that we can reverse the chain of degradation we have set in motion, and urges us to reflect on the death of an ecosystem which plays a vital part of the whole. Without action, it reminds us, an ecological disaster is unavoidable and we will lose one of the most beautiful, if hidden, ecosystems on our planet.

Chasing Coral is out now on Netflix.