March/April 2019  (Volume 34, Issue 2)

Saving Atlantis

(2018) 75 min. DVD: $50 ($125 w/PPR): public libraries; $295 w/PPR: colleges & universities. DRA. Collective Eye Films. Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmakers David Baker and Justin Smith’s documentary examines the disturbing decline of the world’s coral reefs (and their associated aquatic ecosystems, which hold 25 percent of marine life) due to global warming. The crisis is exemplified in a most alarming manner by the epidemic “bleaching” of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, where even subtle rises in temperatures have wreaked havoc on sensitive algae that coexists in symbiosis with coral-building animals. Pollution and overfishing also endanger reef communities, although some of the economic victims of reef die-offs cited here are the tribal fishermen of the tropics, who have lived for generations off the bounties of reefs that are now deserted by fish. Among the solutions suggested are training indigenous shoreline people in ecology and healthy sustainable practices, and propagating corals from special reefs (there are a few) that have somehow naturally evolved resistance to all the toxins that humanity produces. Still, despite these few glimmers of optimism, a melancholy sense hangs over this film that a jewel of the oceans is being lost, perhaps irrevocably. Offering a powerful environmental wake-up call, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (C. Cassady)