Your end-of-summer watchlist: nature edition

© Jeff Yonover

As the halcyon days of summer wind down, Conservation International staff are catching up on the latest TV shows and movies about a favorite topic: nature. Here’s what they can’t stop watching. 

1. “A Plastic Ocean” directed by Craig Leeson  

“’A Plastic Ocean’ poignantly shows how we as humans are directly contributing to the pollution of the ocean — and to the deaths of numerous beloved marine species. Imagine wanting to go in search of the animal you have loved since you were a child and instead discovering something far worse: an ocean clogged with trash. This describes the journey that journalist Craig Leeson takes you on in his search for his first love: the elusive blue whale. Featuring interviews and commentary from scientists, film-makers, social entrepreneurs, scholars, environmentalists and journalists, ‘A Plastic Ocean’ uncovers the truths — and consequences — surrounding our disposable lifestyles, along with the innovative solutions we need to create together for a better future for our oceans.”

- Lindsey Messenger, marketing campaign senior coordinator

2. “Ghost Fleet” directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron

“Ghost Fleet is an eye-opening documentary condemning the modern-day slave labor that fuels the world's insatiable appetite for seafood. You get to meet a small group of activists who are risking their lives to find freedom for the men who have been trafficked into the Thai fishing industry. It should be a mandatory watch for everyone this summer."

- Katie Bryden, visual storytelling producer

*SPECIAL REPORT: Slavery in the seafood industry

3. “Our Planet” directed by Alastair Fothergill

“Whenever David Attenborough is involved, it's going to be good. The famous British naturalist has narrated the most visually impactful nature storytelling of this era, including but not limited to ‘Life of Birds,’ ‘Life of Mammals,’ ‘Life in the Undergrowth,"’ ‘Blue Planet,’ ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Life,’ with each installment marking significant milestones in what natural phenomena was captured as well as the technology used to capture it. ‘Our Planet’ — available on Netflix — is no exception. From the start, I was struck by the smooth camera pans deployed to bring a new perspective to already compelling visuals. This new treatment turned the opening cheetah hunting sequence — normally a visual cliché for those who watch nature programming — into a gripping drama. In each of the eight episodes that were broken down by habitat, the series makes an effort to emphasize the dire situations faced by many of these important species. The ‘walrus sequence’ (which requires no further explanation for those who've seen it) and how it conveys the impact of the climate crisis on the species we hold dear, is heartbreaking.”

- Adam Sedgley, director of web strategy

4. “Chasing Coral” directed by Jeff Orlowski

"Chasing Coral" shows the beautiful coral reef ecosystems around the world, while emphasizing how quickly we could lose them if climate change continues at its current rate. You get to hear from scientists why coral is dying and follow research teams on some of their dives to famous reefs. There is an optimistic end to the film explaining that coral life can be restored, but only if we change the way we act toward the environment — fast." 

- Kiley Price, staff writer 

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International.

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Cover image: Colorful reef and snorkelers in Papua New Guinea. (© Jeff Yonover)

Further reading:

  • Demystifying the seafood label: Where your seafood actually comes from
  • ‘Alarming’ study: Oceans heating at a rapid pace