6 Must-Watch Marine Conservation Documentaries

Steel yourself: These powerful trailers for top documentaries will make you rethink the way humankind is treating our oceans and their inhabitants. One or two of these films may even have you reaching for a tissue

The Cove

Starring Ric O’Barry and directed by Louie Psihoyos, this controversial documentary got its title from an isolated cove in the small village of Taiji, Japan, where dolphin drive hunting takes place with the support of government officials, and unbeknownst to the townsfolk. Using microphones and cameras disguised as rocks, O’Barry and crew attempted to film what was really going on in The Cove.



Rob Stewart originally planned simply to film sharks underwater, but after a run-in with an illegal fishing boat, his documentary took a vastly different – and life-threatening – course. Filmed in 15 countries, Sharkwater is an incredibly stunning, high-definition documentary unmasking a vast network of shark finning and poaching.


The End Of The Line

Based on the eponymous book by Charles Clover, this documentary examines modern (over)fishing and how it is wiping out fish populations so fast, there may not be any seafood on any menu by 2048. The End Of The Line argued that consumers and politicians alike have a responsibility, alongside the global fishing industry, to ensure we don’t exhaust the ocean’s fish stocks.



After reading about Dawn Brancheau’s death at the hands – fins? – of Tilikum, a notorious SeaWorld orca who had killed others, Gabriela Cowperthwaite decided there was more to the story. She compiled footage and interviews to produce an emotional, shocking documentary about the cruelty that killer whales suffer in captivity.


The Last Ocean

The documentary is a call to save Antartica’s Ross Sea, the last untouched marine ecosystem on earth. It won’t remain that way for long – an international fishing fleet has made its way to the ‘last ocean’, and the abundant toothfish (also called Chilean sea bass) are a particular target. In an interview, director Peter Young said he wanted humankind to know ‘that if we were going to destroy this last pristine place … this is the cost, the real cost of eating that fish.’


Planet Ocean

Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Planet Ocean beautifully illustrates the ocean’s role in the ecosystem that is our entire planet – and therefore its importance to human existence. Although it doesn’t focus on one specific call to action, the documentary imparts the message that humanity is currently the biggest threat to the planet’s oceans, and that by saving the oceans, we essentially save ourselves.



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