Clemson University's coral restoration team includes (from left) Kara Noonan, Sara Rolfe, Kylie Smith, Michael Childress, Sydney Whitaker and Randi Sims.

Clemson University’s coral restoration team includes (from left) Kara Noonan, Sara Rolfe, Kylie Smith, Michael Childress, Sydney Whitaker and Randi Sims.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

CLEMSON – Clemson University is hosting a free showing of the Netflix documentary film “Chasing Coral,” which features divers, photographers and scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of why coral reefs are in dramatic decline throughout the world.

Coral reefs, which are considered one of the ocean’s most endangered and invaluable species, have been diminishing at an alarming rate for the past three decades. Marine biologists believe the chief culprit is the multiple stresses associated with climate change. “Chasing Coral” examines this and other issues in intimate detail.

The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 in the McKissick Theatre inside the Hendrix Student Center. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not necessary.

Following the film, Clemson associate professor and marine biologist Michael Childress will moderate a panel discussion that will include Ph.D. candidate Kylie Smith, graduate student Kara Noonan and the Conservation of Marine Resources Creative Inquiry team.

Under Childress’ guidance, Smith and more than three dozen students and volunteers have been conducting coral restoration research for the past six years. Smith’s adventures and travails are documented in an article titled “Coral Crusader” that appeared in the January 2018 issue of Clemson World magazine. About 50 free copies of the magazine will be given out to attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.

“As a scientist who works on coral reefs, I believe that the photographers and scientists involved with ‘Chasing Coral’ did an amazing job illustrating our similar observations in the field,” Smith said. “They capture the emotional toll the loss of coral reefs takes on the people that study and love these ecosystems. They also bring an understanding of the importance of coral reefs to the public.”

Dozens of Clemson University student scientists have conducted coral restoration research in the Florida Keys.

Dozens of Clemson University student scientists have conducted coral restoration research in the Florida Keys.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

The event is sponsored by the Conservation of Marine Resources Creative Inquiry Team, the Marine Ecology Creative Inquiry Team and the Clemson University SCUBA Club.

“We believe the challenges coral reefs are currently facing should be brought to the attention of the public and that anyone can make a difference in conservation efforts,” Smith said. “This documentary does a phenomenal job capturing the reality of what is occurring on coral reefs. Our research also shows impacts of climate change on coral. In our experience, if you can get someone to fall in love with a place or form an appreciation for an ecosystem, they will make changes in their own lives that will impact the future.”

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