frequently asked questions
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. We saw first hand just how quickly reef ecosystems were changing and knew this was a story that needed to be told and visualized for the world to see.
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 working in an extreme environment that is the ocean, with storms, underwater filming and technology issues, 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!
Has bleaching like this ever 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 warming too fast for recovery.
What is actually causing corals to turn white?
Corals may seem simple but they 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.
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 2034 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?
The Gates Lab in Hawaii, founded by Dr. Ruth Gates who we meet 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 they need to recover. We’ve seen 500 year old corals deteriorate, so it’s going to take some time for these ecosystems to rebuild. Given 5-10 years, a coral reef can regenerate, however, it will take much longer for the biodiversity and ecological function to return to the way they once were!
How could/does this impact tourism?
This will absolutely impact tourism, and in turn the local communities that relay on it. Tourism is a major driver for economic growth in countries around the world and this will be at risk if we don’t educate ourselves and protect these habitats. Now, there are some cool examples of local communities making a shift from extractive tourism to “conservation tourism.” The same could be done for coral. Imagine planting 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 wouldn’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?
Yes and no. Some coral are more resistant to warm waters. The Red Sea for instance, 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 so that when we stabilize the climate, we can replant these reefs.
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 swift climate action.
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 Niño 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 Niño.
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 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.
Hosting a screening
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, anyone can host a screening! 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.
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, we do not share any event details publicly unless otherwise discussed.
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! Visit Netflix.com to get started. The film is also available temporarily on YouTube.
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?
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 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. Contact us to learn more about our VR offering.
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?
While we don’t publicly promote individual screenings, 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 wish we could be at every screening, we have a Discussion Guide to help communities continue the conversation without us.
How do I book Chasing Coral to play at my theater?
At the moment, we’re focused on our community screening program. 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 schools?
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.