Coral Reefs

December 17, 2018

I recently watched the award-winning Netflix documentary “Chasing Coral.” The film covers a team of divers and scientists on a quest to document why, in their opinion, coral reefs are “vanishing at an unprecedented rate.”  As a scuba diver, I have enjoyed diving on coral reefs numerous times. You can’t help but be impressed by the dazzling colors and variety of life found on a healthy coral reef and seeing a dead reef will stir your emotions.
Overall I enjoyed much of the film especially the underwater scenes. It’s a well-made “documentary.” However, the bias of the producers is rather evident.
So this is the script:
  • Many coral reefs are dying worldwide.
  • This is due to water temperatures rising.
  • This has never been seen before (based on coral reef cores).
  • Coral reefs will all die off. No chance of recovery.
  • Climate change is the cause of this.
  • Mankind is responsible for climate change.
This unfortunate attempt to go down the familiar “manmade global warming route” needs to be challenged, as I believe it detracts from what is a serious issue, the health of our oceans, which is something we can address.
So here are the problems with the incorrect simplified conclusion of Chasing Coral:
  • Yes, large portions of coral reefs did die off during 2016 (the time the film was made) and this remains an ongoing issue.
  • Yes, climate change can cause sea temperatures to rise. However, rising water temperature is only one of the causes of coral die-offs, not the only one as portrayed in the film.
  • Other causes for the coral reef die-offs and damage include pollution and poor quality water. From litter to waste oil, pollution is damaging reefs worldwide. Pollution from human activity inland can damage coral reefs when transported by rivers into coastal waters, and hotels and resorts often discharge untreated sewage and wastewater into the ocean.
  • Disease of corals is a growing problem. [i]
  • Overfishing of herbivorous fish can lead to high levels of algal growth.
  • Destructive fishing practices such as using dynamite and poisons to kill and catch fish.
  • Coral bleaching is not a new problem. Studies show it's been going on for at least 400 years.[ii]
  • Coral reefs can recover if environmental conditions improve[iii]. And labs are growing coral and replanting it.
However, the biggest lie, repeated as if it were a fact, is the case that humans are solely responsible for climate change. This has been debunked numerous times. It’s understood but conveniently ignored in this case, that solar heat from increased sunspot activity is the largest contributor to affect the earth’s temperature. There is an abundance of evidence that shows a correlation between sunspot activity and an increase in global temperatures.[iv]
The earth’s seas are polluted and yes, mankind is responsible for that. The three biggest causes of pollution are single-use plastic, sewage (no good reason to ever pump this into the sea), and environmental run-off of agricultural products (a big problem here in Florida where I live).
All three of these are areas which can be addressed. However, getting most developing nations to actually do something is easier said than done. So perhaps our efforts should be focused there.
Coral reefs should be protected from being damaged by commercial fishing. Of course, this needs to take into consideration smaller fishing communities who have fished local waters for generations. Their livelihoods need to be protected, as well.
Coral reefs can and are being regrown. Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida accidentally discovered the science of “micro-fragmenting” corals and growing them rapidly - in as little as 3 years vs. 25 – 75 years in the wild. This has led to teams being able to replant dead reefs with new living corals - again, a vital area of research that “Chasing Coral” totally ignored. Could this be because it did not fit the film's agenda?
We all need to be more critical when it comes to Hollywood, Netflix, and “science documentaries.” Understanding their extreme bias and commitment to “saving the planet” helps put the film's comments into context. Yes, many times those involved are well-meaning people who do great work in highlighting environmental issues. But they selectively report facts to make their point in line with their naturalistic worldview.
We are called by God to be stewards of the earth (Genesis 1:26, 28) so responsible conservation is important. However, we should never think we are called to “save the earth.” We are called to take the saving grace of Jesus Christ to all people of the earth. The creation (the earth) is corrupted due to mankind’s sin. Jesus will recreate a new heaven and earth when he returns. (Revelation 21:1)

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John is an author, writer, and speaker. A former atheist, he is now an ordained minister and Bible teacher.
Early in his career, John worked as a professional herpetologist in venom labs in South Africa and Europe. He then switched career paths moving into the software world where he has worked for and with some of the largest software firms in the world. He is currently working on his 3rd technology start-up.
His writing reflects his beliefs, career path and interests and includes cultural issues, creation & evolution, genetics, climate change, blockchain, and cybersecurity.
John has lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States. He and his family currently reside in South Florida.
Visit John Berry's website at