You may recognise Zack from the Netflix documentary, ‘Chasing Coral.’ The film documented first-hand the mass coral bleaching event of 2017 in the Great Barrier Reef, using innovative filming techniques.
Zack’s passion for corals began at a young age and has developed into an obsession. He built his first aquarium housing coral specimens, aged just 12, and hasn’t looked back. He is now doing a PhD and working hard to make more people aware of the plight of coral reefs.
A coral reef is a spectacular ocean ecosystem. Millions of small organisms live together and make up the colourful and vibrant reefs we have all looked at in wonder.
Bleaching occurs when the bacteria that give coral its exciting colours leave the reef, which is a living organism. The result is a white landscape, and the corals eventually die.
Corals need the bacteria in order to survive, and the bacteria need the corals to house them.
Bleaching happens when the environment changes, for example when the ocean warms, or becomes too saline. Coral can recover, but only if conditions are right.
As you can imagine, with the climate warming, bleaching events are occurring with increasing regularity.
Coral reefs are also breeding grounds for thousands of species, and home to fish, turtles, sharks, rays and many more iconic ocean species. If we don’t protect them now, we risk losing the very air that we breathe and these beautiful underwater landscapes.
‘Chasing Coral’ opened the floodgates for people to have an interest in
coral, and to motivate people to try to address their own impacts on a warming planet.
“I think activism is critical. I certainly consider myself an activist for the ocean. We can all make a difference in our own lives, ” Zack says. “We all have people around that love and care for us, and they’re going to be open to listening to what you have to say. We can all share our thoughts and ideas amongst family and friends on how to better protect the ocean.”