Those of you who, like us, are currently staying home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, might have more time on your hands than usual. What’s more, you’re probably missing your time underwater (we definitely are). So, with social distancing keeping us land-bound, the Reef-World Foundation has compiled the next best thing: a list of epic TV shows and ocean conservation movies that let you virtually jump back into the ocean and learn about the threats it faces, as well as sharing ways you can help.
BBC’s Blue Planet and Blue Planet II
You won’t be surprised to see us kicking off this roundup with the legend that is David Attenborough. Despite the ocean covering two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, we know very little about it. Yet, the spectacular Blue Planet series will give you fascinating insight into the mysteries of the deep we do know. Prepare to be transported to a range of magical and mysterious underwater ecosystems — and witness some events never before seen by human eyes — through the documentary’s magnificent footage
“No ocean, no life. No ocean, no us.” — Sylvia Earle
From one legend to another, we couldn’t do an ocean-movie roundup without mentioning “Her Deepness” — the inimitable marine biologist, oceanographer, diver and explorer Sylvia Earle. Mission Blue is a Netflix original documentary that follows Earle’s journey in trying to raise awareness of the dire threats our oceans face. Learn how and why she’s made it her life’s purpose to speak for the ocean, calling for us to protect the ocean through a global network of marine protected areas.
Directed by Jeff Orlowski, this Netflix documentary details a global campaign to research and record the disappearance of coral reefs around the world. It was an ambitious production: with more than 500 hours spent underwater, footage captured in over 30 different countries and over 500 people, including scientists, divers and photographers, coming together to support this film and capture the state of coral reefs and the threats they face.
This documentary, which recorded how some corals glow in vibrant colors in a last, desperate effort to survive increasing ocean heat waves, inspired the UN Environment Programme’s Glowing campaign. Glowing aims to make the world take notice of glowing corals and the warning they represent.
Love sharks? Want to watch footage of more than 30 different species? Then you’ll love BBC One’s Shark series (only available in the UK). This wildlife series introduces scientists from around the world who are studying the ocean’s apex predators to find out more about their social interactions, courtships, hunting behaviors (they even use analysis of hunting behavior to predict the most likely time of day for a shark attack) and the things that threaten their survival.
A Plastic Ocean
Today, most people are well aware of the problem plastic poses for our ocean. But back in 2016, when this documentary was made, we knew less about the threat of plastic pollution. What started out as a mission to film blue whales — the world’s largest living animal — changed course when the documentary-maker found plastic waste choking the oceans. Plastic Ocean investigates the scale of the plastic problem and tries to find solutions to save our polluted seas.
“The animal we fear the most is the one we can’t live without.” — Rob Stewart
Humans are killing up to 150 million sharks a year. As a result, shark populations have decreased a staggering 90 percent. Join the late filmmaker Rob Stewart in Sharkwater, his thrilling quest to find out why people are killing the ocean’s top predator and what he can do to stop them before it’s too late.
The illegal wildlife trade is believed to be one of the world’s most profitable forms of trafficking, after drugs, guns and humans. In Racing Extinction, a team of undercover documentary-makers go on a daring mission to raise awareness of mankind’s role in the extinction of many species and prevent the world’s sixth major extinction.
Queen of Mantas
If you love manta rays and want to find out more about conservation efforts for this enigmatic species, check out Queen of Mantas. Travel to the stunning Mozambican coastline to learn how marine biologist Dr. Andrea Marshall — aka the “Queen of Mantas” — came to the country to study them. Dr. Marshall was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on manta rays; she now works tirelessly to spearhead conservation efforts for the species. The documentary’s breathtaking underwater footage will transport you to another world. There, you’ll learn about these huge, intelligent and graceful animals through incredible close-up encounters.
OK so this Disney flick isn’t technically an ocean conservation movie — but its depiction of a bustling coral reefs is pretty perfect. AND it’s a great way to teach children (and, perhaps, some adults) never to take marine life, dead or alive.