Michael Lake

Aug 10, 2018 • 4 min read

What if there were more in the Oceans than what we see when we go diving? We have selected five documentaries involving the greatest oceanographers, marine enthusiasts, and journalists of our planet.

From unexpected behaviors of marine species to ocean threats, these documentaries took years to make and artfully craft their messages. You can stream these ocean documentaries on either Netflix or the BBC.


🎥 Sharkwater (2007)

Rob Stewart reveals an eye-opening (and sometimes eye-watering) reality of the threats shark face as populations are being decimated around the globe. At the age of twenty-two, while on an assignment to the Galapagos Islands, Rob discovered illegal longline fishing that was capturing and killing many sharks. He takes the audience on a powerful journey that leads to uncovering massive, illegal shark fining industry while also bringing perspective on misconceptions of sharks themselves.

Sharkwater went on to win more than 40 awards at top film festivals. It was one of the first documentaries to reveal the importance of sharks for the marine ecosystem, and how little is being done to protect them.

Rob traveled through 12 countries and took four years to make this documentary. This film, along with help from the Sea Shepherd and Paul Watson led to actual change in affected countries. We’re saddened that Rob lost his life to drowning in 2017 - his final film, Sharkwater Extinction, will be in theaters on October 5th this year.


🎥 Mission Blue (2014)

Legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, teacher and National Geographic Explorer, Sylvia Earle dedicated her life to protect the ocean. Beginning her research on marine life in 1953, the movie biographies her life and her courageous quest to preserve the oceans amid challenging eras of social attitudes towards women.

“I wish for a global network of Marine Protected Areas to save and restore the ocean”

-Sylvia Earle

Shot during a three-year period around the world, Mission Blue exposes jaw-dropping environmental atrocities and the handful of for which hope remains.


🎥 Plastic Ocean (2016)

While searching for the elusive blue whale, journalist Craig Leeson discovered plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. He teamed up with former BBC Blue Planet producer Jo Ruxton and World Champion free-diver Tanya Streeter to show to the world this alarming phenomenon.

“Every year, eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our ocean”

-Plastic Ocean

During four years, they traveled over twenty locations and witnessed many issues associated with plastic: micro-plastics ending up in the food-chain, chemicals causing hormonal-imbalances and the lack of recycling facilities of many developing countries.

Plastic Ocean also looks at solutions and especially at consumer behavior, as change can be immediate and have great impact.


🎥 Chasing Coral (2017)

This heavily-awarded documentary follows the story of a successful corporate marketer, Richard Vevers, who discovers his most worthwhile marketing-mission: raising awareness to the effect of climate change and its effect on Earth’s coral reef system.

In this heart-breaking documentary, a team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on an mission to Australia, where record oceans temperatures of 2016 and 2017 have led to widespread coral bleaching. The team attempts to use specialized time-lapse photography cameras to show how massive areas of the Great Barrier Reef are dying.

Chasing Coral does a great job at “telling a story” that keeps viewers interested but also explains much of the fascinating biology of coral itself and why it’s so important.


🎥 Blue Planet II (2017)

Presented and narrated by the legendary David Attenborough, these series relate multiple facets of life in the ocean.

From tropical corals reefs and atolls to life at high depth (660 to 3,300 ft), you will witness never seen on screen marine life behavior: battle between a shark and an octopus, bottlenose dolphins introducing their young calves underwater skincare, or even Asian sheepshead wrasse undergoing a months-long metamorphosis that sees them change sex.

Screened on BBC, Blue Planet series has won the public’s heart and raised concern on one of the least studied but most crucial element of life for our planet, the Ocean.

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