High­light­ing the im­pend­ing cri­sis that looms over our ma­rine life, Blue chal­lenges us all to change our aware­ness be­fore it’s too late

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS - SEANNA CRONIN

The ocean may seem deep and vast — even lim­it­less — but it’s not im­mune from our in­flu­ence. A new doc­u­men­tary aims to raise aware­ness about the dire state of af­fairs just off our shores be­fore it’s too late.

Blue is the Aus­tralian equiv­a­lent of Al Gore’s An In­con­ve­nient Truth, high­light­ing the im­mense changes and de­cline in health of the world’s ocean ecosys­tems.

Film­maker Ka­rina Holden and her pas­sion­ate ocean guardians ar­gue that now is a crit­i­cal time for the con­ser­va­tion of a rapidly de­clin­ing re­source.

Stud­ies show half of all ma­rine life has been lost in the past 40 years, and re­searchers project that at cur­rent rates of pol­lu­tion there will be more plas­tic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Lu­cas Han­d­ley is one of the faces of Blue, cov­er­ing is­sues in­clud­ing fish­eries man­age­ment, coral bleach­ing and key­stone species pro­tec­tion.

“I give a gen­eral per­spec­tive of the ocean as a free­d­iver and ma­rine sci­en­tist, hav­ing spent my life ex­plor­ing the most re­mote places in the world I can get to,” he says.

Grow­ing up in Byron Bay, Lu­cas fell in love with the ocean and learned how to ex­plore it for min­utes at a time on just one breath of air.

“One of the great­est things about Byron was that we were pushed to have an open mind about dif­fer­ent things,” he says. “When I grew up there it wasn’t a ma­rine park (at Cape Byron) and we were able to fish there.

“When the ma­rine park came in there was a lot of re­sis­tance to change, but as those things changed peo­ple re­alised that there were many ben­e­fits to hav­ing a ma­rine park.

“The great­est thing that came out of the park was not nec­es­sar­ily the blan­ket con­ser­va­tion in terms of num­bers of fish; it was the men­tal­ity shift ... now we’re see­ing peo­ple take pride in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

From surf­ing the waves of Bells Beach to hand feed­ing wild sharks over an ac­tive un­der­wa­ter vol­cano, es­cap­ing whirlpools in the Malaka Straight and hunt­ing with his in­dige­nous friends to free div­ing deep sea pin­na­cles in the An­daman Sea, Lu­cas spends as much time un­der­wa­ter as on land.

“I’ve spent a long time liv­ing with an in­dige­nous com­mu­nity in the Solomon Is­lands, where we need to hunt our food ev­ery day,” he says.

“I don’t want to be one of those peo­ple who says we have to lock ev­ery­thing up to con­serve it.”

He be­lieves the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion has been given a false sense of the seem­ingly lim­it­less pro­duc­tiv­ity of the oceans thanks to doc­u­men­taries, tourism cam­paigns and travel sto­ries.

“Even though we see these im­ages of in­cred­i­ble abun­dance, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily like that,” he says.

“When peo­ple see beau­ti­ful im­ages of huge schools of fish they think ‘wow, they must be ev­ery­where’ but the sci­ence is show­ing it’s a false per­cep­tion of abun­dance.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Blue pro­poses a range of small and large-scale changes that can help ma­rine ecosys­tems re­cover. Lu­cas be­lieves Blue should ap­peal to a wide range of view­ers and hopes it’s not dis­missed as a “gree­nie” film.

“One of the im­por­tant things here is we’re not push­ing an ex­treme, change your en­tire life to save the planet agenda,” he says.

“We’re say­ing there are all these is­sues and you can do your own small thing, from the way you eat to what you choose to con­sume and the throw­away plas­tics you’re us­ing.

“It doesn’t mean you have to go quit your job and be­come an ac­tivist. What the film hopes to do is em­power peo­ple to make one small change in their life.” Blue screens in se­lect cin­e­mas from to­day

Ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Lu­cas Han­d­ley is one of the faces of Blue, cov­er­ing is­sues in­clud­ing fish­eries man­age­ment and coral bleach­ing.

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