About the Movie and This Discussion
Welcome to the Chasing Coral assignment!
Chasing Coral was released in 2017 and is an excellent movie with phenomenal underwater ocean footage chronicling the real-time decline of coral reefs around the globe. It is available on Netflix or on the Youtube link below. If possible, watch with a fellow student, friend, or family (which will help to spread the word)!
Coral is one of the most complex “animals” on the planet. Each coral is formed from a colony of coral polyps. The collection of corals in shallow, warm tropical waters form coral reefs which provide the structural home for >25% of ocean species at some point in their life cycle. As such, corals are considered the “Rain-forests of the Sea” and are central to ocean ecosystems. At the current rate of ocean warming and ocean acidification, we are expected to lose 99% of all coral reefs on Earth by about 2050 – within our lifetime! It is important to learn as much as possible about coral reefs, so perhaps we can find a way to save them.
Ocean warming and ocean acidification impact corals in two different ways.
Ocean warming: In addition to warming the atmosphere, the buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere also warms the oceans. The warmer water kills the mutualistic algae that live in association with the coral, thereby turning the coral white – a process called coral bleaching. The algae provide food for the coral (called photosynthate) in exchange for the coral structure they live in, so the absence of the algae starves the corals.
Ocean Acidification: About 25% of the CO2 we add to the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean and causes ocean acidification. Ocean waters have become 30% more acidic since the beginning of the industrial revolution, which makes it difficult for corals to build their calcium carbonate structures. As the ocean acidifies even further, this will lead to the breakdown of calcium carbonate structures that have already been formed – an impact that is not discussed in this movie.
Note: Do not attempt the assignment unless you watch the movie.
- Read all of the guidance and discussion prompts below.
Before watching the movie, review the questions provided below and create an outline for yourself (essentially a Word document with the questions). Use your outline while watching the movie, so you only need to watch it once.
- While watching, it may be helpful to write down the time stamp when each question is discussed in case you need to hear those parts again.
Use the links and credentials provided below to access the movie at no cost.
Fully respond to each question, composing your answers in a Word document.
Note: Use your own words. All Discussion posts and Lab submissions must be written in your own words, even if you work through the course or lab material with someone else in the class. Also do not copy from subtitles. See Plagiarizing Definitions and Consequences (Start Here module) for more information.
Part I. Discussions Questions
Prepare a written response to the following in a Word document. Tip: It will help to describe specific items from the movie in your responses as this helps to show what you learned from watching the movie.
- 1. Introduction (2 pts)
- How much did you know about coral before the movie? Have you been able to see and experience coral in the ocean, if so describe your experiences!
- 2. The Dying Coral (2 pts)
- Describe the stages of what happens to coral as the oceans warm. Try to put this into words like you are describing this to a friend.
- 3. Impacts to the World (4 pts)
Current studies show that greater than 99% of the coral is expected to be lost if we reach 2 degree C global temperature rise. (See IPCC reference linked below and note they use “very high confidence” for this statement.) Describe the different ways it would impact the world if we lost the coral. (50-100 words minimum)
“B.4.2 – Global warming of 1.5°C is projected to shift the ranges of many marine species to higher latitudes as well as increase the amount of damage to many ecosystems. It is also expected to drive the loss of coastal resources and reduce the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture (especially at low latitudes). The risks of climate-induced impacts are projected to be higher at 2°C than those at global warming of 1.5°C (high confidence). Coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by a further 70–90% at 1.5°C (high confidence) with larger losses (>99%) at 2°C (very high confidence). The risk of irreversible loss of many marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially at 2°C or more (high confidence).”
4. Discussion with Others (4 pts each)
Discuss what you have learned about the dying coral reefs as result of the warmer oceans with a friend or family member. This is such an important issue, it is good for everybody to be familiar with it. You might also explain that the CO2 that we are emitting to the atmosphere not only warms the oceans and land but it also causes ocean acidification (????????) which has a large impact on the shellfish industry (more details here: Ocean Acidification impacts in the Pacific Northwest (????????)). How did the conversation go?! (50-100 words)
5. There Is Hope (4 pts)
Describe some possible ways how we might help save coral reefs. (50-100 words)
PART 2: DISCUSSION BOARD (4 PTS)
Get involved and provide substantive responses that add to the discussion to at least two other students’ posts on the Discussion board! (50-100 words each)
HOW TO WATCH THE MOVIE (ALSO ON NETFLIX)
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