Narrated by Andie MacDowell.
Born from the ocean and living on the land, we are all connected to the waters that surround us. Both large and small efforts must be developed to care for the vast oceans. Our mutual survival depends on it.
To the merry little island of Key West come the world's snorkelers, scuba-divers, swimmers, and ocean- lovers, in eager anticipation of their first look at the fabled coral reefs of Florida. But instead of an undersea kingdom of mystery and delight, they find green ooze choking the fragile arms of the living reef, a reef that flourished not long ago. This climax ecosystem, the product of a half billion years of evolution, is as richly varied and colorful as the tropical rainforests of the Amazon... and it is dying.
Canary of the Ocean, a one-hour documentary, begins with a celebration of the mainland's only coral reefs. Stories of the old days, with its adventurers, eccentrics, pirates, and characters like Ernest Hemingway and Anita Bryant, are told by the first-person narrator, a Keys native. But the idyllic memories of the past collide with the realities of the present when the devastation of the reefs becomes too shocking to ignore. Nobody is quite sure what the source of the problem is: it may be pollution, or overdevelopment, or over-fishing, or too many visitors. Worried about losing the reefs upon which their very livelihood depends, local citizens have banded together to try to protect this unique ecosystem before it vanishes forever.
In Key West, we meet Craig and DeeVon Quirolo, charter boat operators. They have formed Reef Relief, a grass roots organization dedicated to finding active means to defend the reef against human carelessness. We also talk to Dr. Harold Hudson, marine biologist and the "granddaddy" of reef protection. His tireless efforts to understand and combat the water-borne killers of certain corals are both inspirational and poignant. Despite the valiant efforts of the community, the destruction continues, and what was once seen as a local problem is now viewed from a global perspective. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, the coral reefs are warning us that the very oceans are in trouble.
Both lyrical and disturbing, Canary of the Ocean is a celebration of coral's beauty and mystery. It is also a prayer for our planet.