The Reel: Fathoms Deep

OWOO’s ocean video of the week.

 

This new mini-documentary from our partners at Oceana, Fathoms Deep: Protecting the Seafloor, brings to life a full, top-to-bottom chain of connections in the Monterey Bay marine food web. It shows that the seafloor, commonly thought a barren mud bog, is anything but, in 11 captivating minutes.

 

Shrimp emerge out of the darkness as the ROV’s lights scan the ocean floor. A troupe of brittle stars eerily flop their way across the sand. Octopi shapeshift as their arms plumb the narrow rock-cracks for tasty tidbits. Sea lions take underwater flight amid shimmering schools of small fish. Tiny krill dance in full screen macro shots as we learn they are the food source for the largest of all creatures, the blue whale. And all the while Alexandra Cousteau’s narration reminds us of her grandfather’s legacy without a hint of the pedantic.

 

The sequence on bottom trawling was attention-getting in a way that environmental destruction sequences rarely are, perhaps because of it’s novelty (rarely do we actually see the heavy equipment that clear cuts the ocean floor in action ) and it’s realism (the gritty, low-res footage gave it the feel of a hidden camera operation).

 

In communicating the abundance and importance of the marine ecosystem off California’s central coast, and the threat to it, Fathoms Deep is perhaps successful because it adheres to an old principle of writing: show the audience, don’t tell them, the message.

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