Coral: Glimmer of Hope, a film by Gaelin Rosenwaks

A new film by explorer, marine scientist, photographer and filmmaker Gaelin Rosenwaks highlights progress in coral restoration and resilience in Palau, one of the best preserved ocean environments on the planet

Photo by Gaelin Rosenwaks, Palau.

Amongst the many gloom-and-doom stories about coral and our warming oceans, Gaelin Rosenwaks embarks to tell a positive story about the world’s largest living organism in her new film, Coral: Glimmer of Hope, released today in this article (below). We sat down and chatted with her about the film before its premiere and are excited that it is now available online!


WOF: First, tell us a little bit about the film.


Gaelin Rosenwaks: Absolutely! First and foremost, corals are amazing. They create huge structures that become home to an incredible amount of biodiversity, from invertebrates to many species of fish. For this film, I was lucky enough to travel to Palau in Micronesia to work with an amazing team of scientists from University of Alabama-Birmingham, Penn State University and University of Delaware who are unraveling the secrets of corals that are thriving in a warm and acidic environment, analogous to what we will see in the future if warming of our oceans continues. The corals of Palau, fortunately, are still doing well while we are seeing widespread loss of corals in other parts of the world.


WOF: Why Palau and where is it?


GR: The Republic of Palau is a country in the Western Pacific Ocean comprising hundreds of islands and forms the western chain of the Caroline Islands of Micronesia.


Why Palau? In addition to it being one of the most beautiful corners of the planet, Palau is also home to two unique coral habitats, an inshore habitat that is warm and acidic, more analogous to what we think the ocean will look like in the future with warming, and an offshore habitat, that is cooler and has more water flow. Without giving too much of the film away, the scientists are working on looking at the differences in the corals from the inshore versus the offshore reefs and more specifically, their symbiotic algae.

Photo by Gaelin Rosenwaks, Palau.

How did you find this story?


GR: I was very fortunate because this story actually found me. A couple of years ago, a good friend and colleague, Dr. Dusty Kemp—one of the principal investigators of the study—approached me about the cutting-edge work he was doing in Palau. I remember the first time we spoke about it, I was in Seychelles filming another project.  Our Skype connection was not so great and it was the middle of the night for me, but after the first three minutes of the conversation, I knew immediately it was a story I wanted to tell. I was also excited to work with Dusty because I had been following his research for years and was anxious to learn more.


The goal of all of my work is to tell stories about what scientists are doing to understand our planet and, now more than ever, what they are doing to understand the widespread changes we are seeing. But most importantly, I like to tell positive stories; stories that have some hope. We are seeing so much devastation in our natural world. I jumped at the opportunity to tell a good story, especially about corals!


WOF: When and where can we see this film (besides this page)?


GR: The film premiered last week at the International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco. It was awesome to see it on the big screen and to share it with that audience. The film will be screened at various other film festivals in the coming months if you would like to see it on the big screen, but most importantly, today, we are releasing it online via YouTube! I’m very excited to have this film out to the world and to share a “glimmer of hope” about corals.

And now, enjoy Coral: Glimmer of Hope!

Capt. Gaelin Rosenwaks in Belize's Blue Hole. Photo by Fabien Cousteau

Gaelin is a marine scientist, explorer, photographer and filmmaker who left the academic world and founded her company, Global Ocean Exploration, Inc to tell stories about cutting-edge research around the globe and to share her passion for ocean conservation. To see more of Gaelin’s work, you can check out her website and follow her on Instagram @gaelinGOExplore.


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© World Ocean Observatory 2019