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5 Ocean Documentaries with a Positive Impact

Isabelle Barbier
Isabelle Barbier
3 min read

Incredible ocean documentaries that explore global threats to marine life while also conveying messages of hope for the future. These films have inspired real change across industry, consumerism, and government protection plans.

"The Cove" and "The End of the Line" have been instrumental to raise awareness on overfishing and marine life hunting while the BBC documentaries "South Pacific" and "Shark" showcase far-flung territories and unique shark behavior. Finally, "Shiver" follows the story of Macuacua, the first Mozambican dive instructor who then became an advocate for sharks.

You can stream these documentaries on Netflix, the BBC, Dailymotion or Vimeo.

🎥 The End of the Line (2009, 90 minutes)

The End of the Line is a powerful documentary about overfishing. At the rate most species are caught, they do not have enough time to reproduce and survive. It's expected that massively consumed species, such as bluefin tuna or cod will be extinct by 2048. The documentary examines not only the causes of overfishing, but also what can be done to solve it. This film was key to raise awareness of this problem among a wide audience, especially in the UK where 4.7 million adults were aware of it. As a result, supermarkets, chefs and consumers started to buy more sustainably.


🎥 The Cove (2010, 92 minutes)

Each year from September to March, a large-scale hunt of dolphins takes place in the small village of Taiji, Japan. They are either killed for meat or caught for aquariums and marine parks around the world. According to the Oceanic Preservation Society, just one live dolphin can fetch upwards of $200,000. The documentary was key to raise global awareness on these brutal practices. Even though the number of dolphins captured has decreased over the years, there were still about 600 dolphins killed and 100 captured between 2017 and 2018.


🎥 Planet Earth: South Pacific (2009, six 50-minute episodes)

Also known as "Wild Pacific", this six-part documentary series from the BBC takes us on a journey to some of the most remote islands in the world. The coral atolls of the South Pacific are home to some of the richest marine life of the planet. A paradise that can also witness violent tropical storms and massive waves. The documentary also explores the unique culture and rituals that still remain today. One of them is Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, where every year the men jump headfirst from towers made of timber with vines around their ankles to guarantee a good yam harvest.


🎥 Shiver (2010, 54 minutes)

The documentary highlights how sharks conservation spreads out in Mozambique. You'll follow the steps of Carlos Macuacua, Mozambique’s first native dive instructor who was originally afraid of sharks until he learnt to dive and got to understand them. Carlos became an advocate for sharks and founded Bitonga Divers where he trains other Mozambican divers. Bitonga Divers has also contributed establishing nine marine protected areas.


🎥 Shark (2015, 49 minutes)

Another fantastic documentary from the BCC, exploring sharks complex behavior. From the Arctic to the Tropics, this documentary follows more than thirty shark species. A must-see for whoever wants to learn more about sharks. You'll get to discover fascinating facts on their social lives, their courtship rituals and parenting methods, hunting habits, and of course their amazing navigational abilities.

More Documentaries About the Ocean?

Have a look at our list of documentaries every scuba divers should see

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