Saving the Ocean: Shark Reef & The Sacred Island
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Two thirds of the globe is ocean. And while most people are just starting to hear about problems with overfishing, pollution, coral reef troubles, and the like, marine biologists, fisheries scientists, and conservationists worldwide are already hard at work inventing, devising, and implementing solutions. By focusing on those solutions, we’ll help our viewers understand both what the problems are and the vision forward.
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Carl Safina is the marine biologist who runs The Blue Ocean Institute and has authored Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas and The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World [Hardcover]. This series is produced by John Angier and hosted by Safina, and is currently airing on PBS.
Safina gets viewers close to some of the most economically and climatically vulnerable marine populations around our planet, and he gives us a look at marine conservation successes there.
This DVD contains the series premiere. "Shark Reef" looks at the self-imposed fishery limitations agreed upon around the Glover's Reef sanctuary in Belize. These voluntary limitations are helping the reef shark population of this uninhabited atoll recover after Asian shark fin demand dealt a dramatic blow to it.
The second episode is also on this DVD, called "The Sacred Island." This one illuminates a much less well documented success around tiny Misali Island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. A long, drawn-out donor protest against a government lease of the island to an Italian developer helped give impetus to an Islamic community association called the Misali Island Conservation Association. Not long ago, the government's leasing plan was successfully scuttled, and now MICA assesses fees on tourist divers to support both economic and enforcement activities around the reef. Local fishermen have collaborated to move local fishermen to use more sustainable techniques -- like large-mesh cotton nets that limit bycatches, a ban on spearguns, a requirement to buy operator licenses, and so on -- all of which help to ensure the resilience of the reef's fish populations and corals. Local imams are not only supportive, but fully engaged in propounding the value of ocean stewardship across both Misali and the parent economy of nearby Pemba Island.
Safina is the most effective host I've seen at making conservation intelligible. The series foregoes flashy animation and highlight-reel setup shots. Instead, Safina enmeshes his camera team in simple, illustrative interactions with members of communities and with marine biologists. Yes, he's only your average gringo working through a translator when he's on a boat skippered by Swahili fishermen and pulling up a line alongside the crew; yet above all he is attentive to their grit and to the hardscrabble challenges they face in ekeing out a very meager livelihood. A major NGO could not have produced a more convincing PR pitch for marine conservation projects so clearly worthy of study and replication.
You'll find more episodes in this series, that tackle whaling, shrimping, cod, swordfish, dolphins, and sea turtles. Look them up on PBS or Chedd-Angier.com.
This is solid show, beautifully filmed, and full of interesting information. Carl Safina is an interesting host and he obviously has a deep and abiding passion for the subject matter. His presentation is straightforward and he adeptly transmits his enthusiasm for marine biology. If you have any interest in ocean related shows, check this out. It's well done.
The DVD is lean. Shows look slick in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the 2.0 stereo mix is standard-issue, and no extras.
-Full review at dvdverdict.com