A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
I must admit it was difficult to see what I witnessed.
Dr. Austin Bowden-Kerby summoned me to the island nation of Kiribati because he felt that I should document the situation. You see, the beaching lasted there for 14 MONTHS! This was unprecedented and much longer than any other beaching event. He estimated that the loss of corals on the once thriving massive Coral Atoll (The largest on the planet) was between 95-99%.
And I filmed it.
Kerby described to me the lagoon which once was a massive field of stag horn type corals, now barren. I felt a Sinking Feeling when he surfaced after jumping into the water, dutifully checking the murky shallows for any sign of living corals, holding a dead piece of coral. "This is what used to cover this entire area", he yelled to us back on the boat.
I watched as he searched and searched, the rest of us too tired or cold and unwilling to join him. Pulling himself onto the boat, his mask still in place, he spit out his snorkel, "it's all dead. Nothing here."
Two weeks of this.
But I also filmed something that gave a glimmer of hope. Austin Bowden-Kerby is a generous soul. He literally befriends every person he meets, and he instinctively tries to help them in any way he can. I've never seen anything like it.
I watched as he led a team of locals, dark skinned islanders who spoke little English, patiently instructing them on how to garden corals. Kerby invented coral gardening in the 90's, he was the first. Brilliant minds took it up and made major breakthroughs like Dr. David Vaughn in Florida and Lisa Carne down in Belize.
I filmed the local team working diligently, as Kerby led them, guiding them, showing them how they might salvage corals that are all but extinct in their waters.
As I sat in the airport in Honolulu reflecting on what I'd witnessed I realized something. There is only one hope for our coral reefs, over 50% of which are already dead. And that hope lies with you. You the reader, reading this now.
I realized that the only chance the coral reefs have, is if hundreds, no, thousands of people take up coral gardening or support it in a direct way. Divers, Resort owners, Beach Communities, Governments, People with money who can finance projects all must come together or witness the certain demise of the first entire eco-system on our planet.
It's important to realize that such a collapse would start a chain reaction, one eco-system collapsing after another. The 150-200 species that go extinct EVERY DAY will speed up as the SIXTH GREAT EXTINCTION EVENT reaches closer and closer to humanity.
The film I'm making is important. I didn't mean for it to be. Honestly. I just wanted to make a slick doc that would put me on the best reefs remaining. But it became important when I saw that Dr. Kerby needed our help, the help of the entire world. Dr. David Vaughan and Lisa Carne and all of the brilliant minds on the front line need us to lift them up and spread their work around the world.
I can make a film to spread the word about Coral Gardening... But as I sit aboard this airplane flying over the vast Pacific Ocean I wonder; Will humanity be able to overcome their apathy and save themselves, or are they like a cancer, that will eat away at the very body that supports it until its habitat collapses and there is nothing but a corpse left?
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April 18th, 2018