A Sea Change


boat on the water

Credit: Australian Marine Conservation Society

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Product name: A Sea Change

Reviewer: Sara Phillips

Author: Director Barbara Ettinger

Publisher: Australian Marine Conservation Society

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This documentary, directed by Barbara Ettinger, covers a consequence of calamitous climate change that, until now, has received very little attention: the acidification of our oceans.

Carbon dioxide, one of the gases responsible for our changing climate, dissolves in the vastness of our oceans, and unfortunately when it does so, it makes the ocean ever-so-slightly acidic.

This is a problem because many sea creatures have shells which dissolve in acidic conditions. The film highlights a little winged sea-bug called a pteropod, which is about the size of a child's fingernail, and is an important food source for salmon. Pteropods are so sensitive to acidity levels, that a researcher accidentally dissolved a whole jar of them when she put in too many of them and they respired carbon dioxide - as all living things do.

The film follows the journey of retired teacher Sven Huseby as he teaches himself about ocean acidification. In letters and conversations, he passes the information on to his seven-year-old grandson, in the hope that Elias will be encouraged to environmental activism.

It's a useful tool for structuring the documentary, but at times it had the air of Sven's last words to humanity, and therefore left a rather grim taste in the mouth.

The film also got lost about halfway through, moving from a documentary on ocean acidification to one more generally about climate change. In my view, it would have been more powerful if it had stayed on topic.
This is an interesting film, but because it doesn't conclude with tools to fight ocean acidification, I simply came away feeling depressed about how badly humans are ruining the planet.

A Sea Change is screening August 13 at the University of Queensland with proceeds going to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

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