Featured Image Credit: Mission Blue via Netflix
By Eva Gruber
Oceans are the largest habitat on our planet, and yet few people encounter or think about the ocean on a daily basis. For many, the ocean is simply a far-away place and since so much of the action is below the surface – out of sight, out of mind. Documentary film-making plays an incredibly important role in raising awareness to marine conservation, as well as inspiring viewers through its beauty to care. Here are some of the best, most beautiful, and most moving ocean documentaries, all of which can be streamed directly from Netflix.
- Mission Blue
This excellent documentary outlines the life and work of one of the best oceanographers and marine biologists on the planet – Dr. Sylvia Earl. Inspirational and moving, it takes viewers on a journey from Dr. Earl’s childhood home on the Gulf Coast, to a lifetime of dedicated work on waters around the globe. Dr. Earl has lived a fascinating life, breaking through the glass ceiling all her life: studying marine algae for her doctorate, working as a researcher at the California Academy of Sciences, UC Berkeley, and Harvard, living underwater as the lead aquanaut in TEKTITE II in the Caribbean, working as a biologist on multiple research cruises, and co-founding a company that built some of the most innovative submersibles. She has logged thousands of hours underwater, scuba diving as well as descending to shocking depths in submersibles. She was also the first female Chief Scientist of NOAA. Since 1998, she has been a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Adoring fans address her as “Her Deepness”, in honor of her incredible life dedicated to ocean exploration.
- End of the Line
Released in 2009, this documentary was the first to focus on the impacts and consequences of industrial fishing. End of the Line has opened the eyes of many people to what was once a poorly-known subject (that affects us all). Combining scientific data with moving visuals, the documentary is one of the best to gain a strong foundation to understand what happens on our planet, beneath the surface, through unchecked and unregulated fishing. The film presents data from many fisheries biologists that all global fishing stock will be depleted by 2048 if it continues at the present rate. It is a film documenting what has happened through overfishing, as well as what might continue to happen if laws concerning industrial fishing do not change. Rousing viewers who care deeply about our blue planet.
- The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans
Produced by the BBC, one of the best documentary production companies in our time, this award-winning eight-part series is narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Epic in proportion, and filmed over the course of several years by a huge team of the best wildlife cinematographers with the most advanced filming technology, it reveals stunning, beautiful, and never-before-seen ocean footage. Equally a series devoted to nature and conservation as well as an artistic statement, Blue Planet is one of the reasons so many of us have fallen in love with the oceans and pursued careers in marine biology.
- Sushi: the Global Catch
A documentary about sushi that ties together history, culture, and the ecological impacts of this infamous (and irresistible) Japanese food. The issues of fisheries management and conservation at first glance sounds incredibly esoteric and boring, but they are issues that affect the entire planet and may strike the balance between the health and demise of our planet.
- Turtle: The Incredible Journey
One of the first documentaries of its kind, this film follows the life history of an individual sea turtle from hatching to adulthood when she returns to her natal beach to breed. Beating incredible odds (only about 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survive to adulthood), the film documents the natural threats that sea turtles face throughout their lives, made much harder in large part now due to all the unnatural anthropogenic threats in the ocean. A moving story of a single sea turtle that will melt hearts of all, especially adoring sea turtle fans.