Frequently asked questions


You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

We’ve compiled some of our most commonly asked questions below, covering everything from the filmmaking process, the future of our coral friends, and climate science, to our impact campaign, and how to host a screening.

What inspired the story of Chasing Coral?

This story really came to us through Richard Vevers. After seeing Chasing Ice, Richard reached out to our team about the dramatic changes happening below the waves. This is a visual story that the world needs to see, so we started following him, as well as meeting and interviewing scientists. We discovered for ourselves how quickly reef ecosystems are changing and knew this was a story that needed to be told.

What were some of the challenges faced while making this film?

When you are working on documenting something that has never been done before, there are inherent challenges. It was a grueling production involving new technology issues, working in an ocean environment with currents, storms, underwater filming, communication challenges, time-limitations with oxygen tanks, and so much more. We were lucky to have a skillful and talented team to help keep us afloat (literally)!

How much time was spent under water?

During the production the team as a whole logged around 700 hours underwater!

How long did it take to make the film?

The production of Chasing Coral took three and a half years to shoot including many months in the field!

What next?

Our newest production, The Social Dilemma, is streaming now on Netflix!

Has bleaching like this happened before?

Our first records of global bleaching really begin in the early 80s. Before then there were infrequent reports of local bleaching. It is the frequency we’ve been seeing in the last 15 years that is worrisome for scientists. Corals can bounce back quickly, but only if we give them the opportunity and right now, the waters are just getting warmer and warmer.

What is actually causing corals to turn white?

Corals may seem simple but the are secretly very sophisticated and have symbiotic relationships that are essential to their existence. One of these relationships is with their zooxanthellae, small algal cells that photosynthesize and provide food for the corals. These algae are also what gives corals their spectacular colors! The scientific explanation starts with these algae. When a coral’s environment becomes abnormally warm, these algae begin to misbehave. They essentially go into overdrive and instead of producing food they produce detrimental molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS). These molecules cause havoc inside the coral cells. The coral has no choice but to expel the algae before these molecules ultimately kill the coral, leaving behind their transparent tissue and stark white skeletons. Check out this wonderful video to learn a bit more here.

What is causing the fluorescing?

Fluorescing is the corals last chance at protecting themselves before they die. They secrete a natural chemical “sunscreen” to help protect themselves from the excess UV radiation that is associated with a bleaching event.

What is the current outlook for coral reefs?

Even if we reach the Paris agreement, our modeling shows that about 90% of global coral reefs will be lost in the coming decades. Recent publications are indicating that by the year 2043 most coral reefs around the world will bleach on an annual basis. This is, again, the reason why the research done by scientists such as those in the Gates Coral Lab and initiatives such as 50 Reefs are going to be instrumental in our preservation for coral reefs around the world.

What hope are coral researchers finding?

We’ve just been scratching the surface on the impact corals have on the planet. From the potential corals hold for medicines, to their ability to cope with changing environments scientists are constantly learning more amazing things about coral. Some of the most hopeful research is looking at coral resilience. During any event where large percentages of corals die there are always survivors. Current research is exploring what makes those corals special!

What work is being done to see which corals are surviving bleaching and why?

A team of scientists in Hawaii, founded by Dr. Ruth Gates, who we see in the film, is researching this idea of super corals. They’re researching how to speed up the evolutionary process to give corals a boost. And they are not the only ones! Research looking at super corals, coral resilience, and thermal tolerance is at the forefront of coral reef science.

How quickly can coral come back?

Corals can bounce back quickly, but only if we give them the opportunity. If the waters keep warming, we aren’t giving them a chance to recover. We saw 500 year old corals deteriorate, so obviously it’s going to take some time to grow these corals back. Given 5-10 years a coral reef can regenerate. However, it will take much longer for the biodiversity and ecological function to return to where they once were!

How could / does this impact tourism?

This will absolutely impact tourism, and tourism absolutely impacts the reefs. (examples include some sunscreens, boating, pollution, etc.). It’s a responsibility for tour operators to educate the public on what their guests are seeing. Tourism is a major driver for economic growth in countries around the world, but this will be at risk if we don’t educate and protect these habitats. There are examples of local communities who have fished turtles as part of their cultural heritage completely switching to protecting turtles as a way to make more money through “conservation tourism”. The same could be done for coral. How cool would it be to plant your own coral at a coral restoration facility?

Can coral migrate to colder climates?

Unlike mobile and migratory animals, corals require very precise environmental characteristics. As seen in the film, when any of these factors differ from the norm corals can die very quickly. When it comes to migrating north or south to colder waters there are a few factors that disallow this to happen. Corals are photosynthetic organisms and if they moved toward the poles they simply don’t have the light they need to survive the winter months! Our best option is to protect and save what we can. Many of the scientists featured in the film as well as Richard’s new initiative 50 Reefs are doing just that.

Are there some coral that are more resistant to warm waters / bleaching than others? Are some acclimating to the heat?

In short: yes and no. Some coral are more resistant to warm waters. The Red Sea has corals that are regularly under warm conditions. The real discussion is how to maintain the biodiversity of coral. Loss of biodiversity in corals leads to a lack biodiversity of the living things that rely on them. Like Justin Marshall says in the film, the little fish start to be threatened or disappear, then the bigger fish lose their food source and they become threatened, all the way up to us humans who rely on food and products from the ocean. The best thing we can do right now is protect those reefs that are resilient (scientists like those at the Gates Lab are working on this) so that when we stabilize the climate, we can replant these reefs. Richard’s 50 Reefs Initiative is trying to do just this!

What do you think about restoration?

Some great science is happening around restoration, especially at a local level,  but it is not a practical long-term solution. It’s like saying we should replant all the forests that have been lost, but continue to cut them down.  With planting corals, you lose the natural biodiversity, and to scale this up is logistically challenging and expensive. We can use restoration as an education tool, and get local communities more invested in protecting and monitoring their reefs, but to really save them we need to stop the climate from changing any more.

How long have corals been around?

The first corals on record date back to over 500 million years ago. However, those corals are much, much different than the corals of today. While modern corals have been around for millions of years, they have not faced stressors with the same rapid pace that they do today.

Isn’t this just part of a normal cycle?

There have been cycles of warming and cooling in our Earth’s history, but not at the frequency we’re experiencing these days. Mass coral bleaching can be tied to El Nino events, which are natural, but the heat content in our oceans are now exacerbating that and we are now seeing these events happen without the assistance of a natural El Nino.

Why don’t you talk about agriculture / animal methane release?

While we chose to make a documentary about coral bleaching and therefore kept our focus beneath the waves, current agricultural practices are a big part of the problem, too. It’s hard for everyone to cut out meat entirely, and for some it’s simply not possible, but having one less meal with meat per week, or eating smaller animals that take up less resources, like chicken, is a great way to start. Up until now, the environmentalist mentality has been about sacrifice. Sacrificing eating meat, sacrificing driving a car, etc. People are less likely to sacrifice, and some just aren’t able to. While our personal actions have significant impact, we must call for systemic change in order to save what we have left.

What impact do you hope Chasing Coral will have?

We believe in the power of film to activate individuals, mobilize communities and build bridges. We are working on making sure that this film gets out into the world in a powerful way, and that the passion we hope to spark in others maintains momentum all these years later. Since we premiered on Netflix in 2017, our goal has been to support screenings globally through resources that empower audiences to mobilize locally. We worked with diverse partners to spark local movements around sustainability, and we seek to engage leaders to help us accelerate what Richard calls the “great transformation.”

Where is the Coral Bus?

We’re sad to report the coral bus is currently out of commission. But, we’ve designed a virtual suite of educational resources to help take Zack’s coral bus on the road in spirit! Check out our education page for more info.

Will you be showing it in schools?

We are delighted to be able to offer free educational screening licenses, a VR experience, as well as materials we’ve crafted to help engage students in the classroom. Check out our education page for more info on how you can bring Chasing Coral to a school near you.

How do I host a screening?

Choose a date, time, and place to host your Chasing Coral screening. It can be as big or small as you want. Register your screening to share more details about your event. Our team will follow-up to confirm your event details and logistics and you’ll receive additional screening resources and calls-to-action to help unify our efforts.

Can anyone host a screening?

Yes! We’re helping hundreds of individuals, schools, community centers, clubs, churches, non-profits, museums, corporate offices and more share the film! Check out our Planning Guide for ideas on how to set up your screening or if you’re ready for next steps, fill out the Registration Form to register your event with us and ensure you have access to all our great tools!

How much does it cost to screen the film?

There is no cost to share the film. We’re excited to offer FREE screening licenses to anyone interested in organizing an event, big or small.

What types of venues can screenings take place in?

Check out our Planning Guide for ideas on where and when to book your screening! Depending on the size of your event, you can host screenings anywhere from your living room or backyard, to classrooms and school auditoriums, office meeting rooms, aquariums, museums, and more.

Do you help book the venue for my screening?

No, booking the venue is up to you. Depending on the size of your event, you can host screenings anywhere from your living room or backyard, to classrooms and school auditoriums, office meeting rooms, aquariums, museums, and more.

What if I want to keep my screening private?

No problem, if you indicate your event is private in the Registration Form, we’ll be sure to keep the event address private!

How long is the film?

The film is 93 minutes.

What format(s) is the film available in?

Chasing Coral can be streamed or downloaded via iPad from Netflix.

What if I don’t have a Netflix account?

If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial! Give it a shot, Netflix is awesome! Visit to get started.

My location has poor internet, is there any other way to see and share the film besides Netflix streaming?

If you have access to an iPad you can download the film to your iPad from Netflix. Once downloaded, you can connect your iPad to either a TV or projector using an HDMI cable, which will allow you to share the film without internet connection or worry of streaming interruptions.

How is the quality of the film when downloaded to an iPad?

When downloading to an iPad, you can select to download the film at higher quality to ensure best results for your screening.

Can you send me a file of the film for my screening?

In an effort to safeguard the film from piracy, Chasing Coral can only be shared through Netflix streaming and/or iPad download for non-commercial events.

I’m screening the film as part of a festival or film series and require a theatrical DCP or Bluray. Is this possible?

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, in an effort to be as safe as possible, we are not shipping any DCPs or BluRays at this time.

Festival and film series screenings are handled a bit differently. Please contact us to be connected with a member of our team to chat further about your event and screening options.

Are subtitles be available?

Yes, Netflix offers up several language options for subtitles, including: English, Spanish (Neutral), French, German, Italian, Malaysian, Indonesian, and more. If needed, we are happy to provide a transcript if your desired subtitles are not available.

Are dubbed options available?

Yes, Netflix offers subtitled and dubbed versions in English, Spanish (Neutral), French, German, and Italian.

Can I add VR to my screening?

Yes! We’d love to share our VR experience with anyone who’s interested. You will need to provide your own VR equipment though. To learn more about our VR offering, check out our VR page.

Can my screening be a fundraiser?

While a requirement to share the film is that all screenings be free to the public, suggested donations are acceptable.

Will you help promote my screening?

Yes! Upon completion of the Registration Form, our team will provide you with promotional materials to help you spread the word!

Can someone from the film attend my screening?

While we’d love to be at every screening, we have a Discussion Guide we’ve designed to help communities continue the conversation even when our team can’t be there in person. If you’re interested in discussing further, please contact us to chat further about your event.

How do I book Chasing Coral to play at my theater?

At the moment, we’re focused on our community screening program, with a very limited theatrical release. If you have additional questions,  please contact us to be connected with a member of our team to chat further.

How do I book Chasing Coral to play at my festival or conference?

Festival and conference screenings are handled a bit differently. Please contact us to be connected with a member of our team to chat further about your event.

What materials do you have available for school screenings?

Chasing Coral has worked with educators to develop a set of lessons to engage 6-12th grade students before and after the film and a longer-term exhibition project. We’re also pleased to offer VR to any schools with access to VR equipment. Check out our education page for more info.

How can I bring the coral bus to my event?

We’re sad to report the coral bus is currently out of commission. But, we’ve designed a virtual suite of educational resources to help take Zack’s coral bus on the road in spirit! Check out our education page for more info.