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Zack Rago is Chasing Coral

Community Environmental Council

In the last three decades, the Earth has lost half of its coral reefs. In 2016, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef lost nearly 30 percent of its coral. In 2017, this number rose to 50 percent.

While there are a number of different factors at play, it's increasingly clear that the warming of the world's oceans are a major contributor to this loss.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with filmmaker Zack Rago about the threats facing coral and his hope for the future. The new documentary Chasing Coral captures the death of a coral reef on film in an effort to show what’s happening beneath the waves.

“It’s a huge perspective shift for people to be able to gather these month-long or multi-year-long events and see it in a very short digestible period of time,” Rago says. “We’re not talking about one little coral colony here bleaching and dying, we’re talking about an ecosystem-wide devastation.”

However, Rago remains hopeful about the future of the world’s coral.

“I know 50 percent sounds like this incredibly large number—and it is, but there’s still so much beauty and so much magic on the Great Barrier Reef and on reefs worldwide,” Rago says. “There’s so much interesting science going on because of these events that do give me a great deal of hope.”

“We’re positioned right now in a really unique way to really cause a big splash. And I do think that starts with the next generation, it starts with our youth right now, it starts here at the University of Iowa. These are the people that are going to be making a change in the next five years and in the next coming decades.”

Chasing Coral is available now on Netflix.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dennis Reese is the mid-day host for Iowa Public Radio