The 2012 Festival was held in conjunction with the 41st Benthic Ecology Meeting, hosted by Old Dominion University, and there were a number of mini-festivals across the U.S. as well as internationally. In 2012 we received the most entries yet, many of which were unique and engaging.
2012 festival winners were:
Best Conservation Message:
“Time Will Tell”
I was raised in the oceans and this came with the honor of also being raised with top predators. I left school at the age of 14 to become home-schooled so I could spend more time in the ocean. My home reef is the Great Barrier Reef, a place that has always drawn my attention and given me my most memorable shark encounters yet. I am now 18 years old. In my lifetime, I have seen a change in the oceans and feel obligated to expose the injustices to our waters through this film. Filmed throughout the Great Barrier Reef, Caribbean, and Palau, the film gets its name because time is an important factor for the survival of sharks worldwide.
Best Student Film:
“Trophic Cascades of the Purple Marsh Crab”
Trophic cascades exist in a number of ecosystems and occur when food web dynamics are altered due to the change of one more organisms’ populations. This short animated film features the cascade that has caused the rampant die-off of chord grass in Cape Cod salt marshes. It follows the story of the Purple Marsh Crab, whose numbers have skyrocketed due to the removal of their predators. Along the way, we are reminded that our actions can have amplified and unforeseen consequences on ecosystems and organisms that we may have never encountered.
Gaby Bastyra & Joe Churchman
Gloop is a dark fairytale that follows the meteoric rise of plastic from its inception in Leo’s gloomy laboratory 100 years ago. Told like a Brother’s Grimm fable, Gloop offers a poignant and lasting message about the price our oceans may play for the convenience of plastic.
Other films that were screened:
A snapshot of the beauty of our oceans, a portrayal of the blue world, a call to action. Azul shows us the intricate balance between the natural world an our human presence within it.
The work of three scientists, Ad Reniers, Jamie MacMahan, and Rob Brander is depicted in this short film. Shot during a field experiment in Shelly Beach, New South Wales Australia in December 2011, the film aims to educate the audience about fundamental rip current dynamics and safety. The longstanding advice for swimmers caught in a rip current is for them to swim parallel to shore. Although this is true for rip current channels that flow offshore, it is not appropriate for the larger scale circulation patterns that characterize most rip current systems. Empirical evidence from numerous near-shore field efforts leads to the following recommendations: swimmers should not try to swim out of the rip. They should tread water, conserve their energy, and focus on properly duck-diving the waves while also signaling for help. In most cases the rip current will recirculate them back to a shallow shoal. In the rarer case that they get transported outside the surf zone, they should wait until a lull in the waves and then swim back towards shore directly.
“Plastic Future: the Midway story”
Claire M. Fieseler
Filming for this work was confined to 2.4 square miles of ocean, reef, and rock. IN January 2010 the small pacific atoll of Midway served as a learning laboratory for a group of Duke University graduate students. The island, they found, was drowning in plastic. NOAA, NFWF, and the state of Hawaii struggle to conserve Midway’s coral reefs, monk seals, albatross, and rare endemic ducks. Yet the plastic problem overshadows every species’ struggle and every conservation decision. Some say marine debris is a global problem. But in Midway’s 2.4 square miles, plastic pervades undeniably so.
An online dating parody, Sea Harmony, adds an aquatic flavor to your love life. Like Monika LaPlante’s other digital shorts, this brief and comedic piece gives a humorous piece to marine science. And besides, other dating sites are just so species-specific.
“Are Some Weddell Seal Pups Couch Potatoes?”
Mary Lynn Price
Weddell Seal project researchers based at Montana State University are investigating whether Weddell Seal pups that spend time in the water learning to swim with their mothers have a higher probability of survival. Weddell moms spend a lot of time with their pups coaxing them into cold Antarctic water and helping them get out of the water. During this critical time, the pups are also nursing and gaining significant weight from their mother’s rich milk. In this video, shot on location in Antarctica, Montana State University ecology professors describe Weddell seal pup swimming behavior and the competing hypotheses they are investigating.
“Life Beneath the Mangroves”
Mangroves are cool, threatened and really important. For example, they provide critical habitat for young fishes. IN this film, we take a voyage into the secret channels and grottos beneath a red mangrove forest on a pristine island off southern Cuba.
“Trouble in Paradise”
Shot on location in Bali, Indonesia, this film explores the intricate balance between ecotourism and natural behaviors of the Giant Ocean Sunfish. Sunfish frequent certain cleaning stations, but divers are perhaps too curious. This film serves as an important reminder to limit our impacts while experiencing nature.
“Watermelon for Aquanauts”
The underwater research lab “Aquarius” is an intriguing locale for divers worldwide. This film documents the rarely-seen, and often humorous, interactions between the surface crew and aquanauts that remain at depth for weeks on end.
“Discovering the Abyss”
On our deep sea expeditions we collect meiofauna, one millimeter sized animals that live within the sediments of the sea. The geographic distributions of many already described deep sea species, especially those of meiofauna size, are unknown. New records of species of the benthic copepod families show geographic distributions that extend over thousands of kilometers. Submarine ridges and canyons do not appear to be barriers to dispersal of those species. Follow us on our long journey from sampling in the sea bed to working in the lab to describing a new species.
“Survival of the Stillest: Embryonic Bamboo Sharks”
Ryan M. Kempster
As humans, we are lucky that during development we have our mother there to care for and protect us until we are strong enough to emerge. Unfortunately for bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium punctatum), they don’t benefit from any maternal protection and so as a result they have evolved to protect themselves, using electroreception to identify potential dangers around them. By taking what we have learnt about the electrosensory system of bamboo sharks we can start to improve our understanding of how sharks may respond to electric repellent devices, like those used to protect
scuba divers and surfers.
In an effort to educate the virgin island community about our expansive and diverse marine environment, Lionfish Invasion features the beautiful Indo-Pacific lionfish. An adept hunter and prolific egg-bearer, the lionfish is an invasive species in the Caribbean and threatens the existence of our native fishes and reefs.
A dynamic team of talented young animators have breathed life into the unique and delightful character Wilson in this thought-provoking and highly entertaining short that aims to put shark bites into perspective.
“Manta Ray of Hope”
Manta ray of hope takes the viewer on a breathtaking journey through some of the most remote and exotic places on earth to personally experience the beauty of manta rays. Through the eyes of naturalists and researchers, we unravel the mysteries of this charismatic species. We also experience their pain, watching mantas being fished illegally in front of our very eyes. We go deep under cover from remote fishing villages to bustling cities to better understand and expose the trade that is threatening their very future.
Our blue is the world’s first marine conservation record. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a song about the blue and why we love her. It is a song that shows the world the way it is and what we have done to it. This music video shows the beauty of our ocean realm and provides inspiration for the future.
There has been some controversy surrounding the recently discovered aggregation in Oslob, Philippines because the feeding of the sharks accompanies tourism. Shark ecotourism is a booming and growing global industry that has both socioeconomic and conservation benefits. The saying, “seek first to understand, then to be understood” comes to mind in this story. It is in this spirit that the story of Oslob’s whale sharks is told.
“Eggs on the Beach”
John F. Williams
The sites, sounds, and textures of the beach have been attracting beach-goers for millennia. This video focuses on scientists visiting beaches to find invisible things – eggs, the size of grains of sand. Follow along as a variety of tools, from garden hoses to microscopes, are used to coax the eggs out of their surroundings in order to unlock their mysteries.
“Pinto Abalone Restoration”
Pinto Abalone is a species of concern on the Pacific coast, and efforts are underway to restore its population. This short film documents a recent outplanting effort in March 2011 during which over 2000 abalone were released into the Puget Sound.
“Now, More than Ever, Sharks Count”
A combination of interviews with some of the earliest SCUBA divers in Florida, archival and historical photographs, and present-day underwater footage, this documentary presents a unique historical perspective on the issue of shark declines. This story also portrays a new generation of divers that seek to log and track their own shark sightings in Florida and create a new citizen science baseline.
“Maine’s Underwater Rockweed Forest”
Robin Hadlock Seeley & David Brown
Burgeoning global demand for products derived from seaweeds is driving the increased removal of wild coastal seaweed biomass, an emerging low-trophic level industry. These products are marketed as organic and sustainable. The brown macroalga Ascophyllum nodosum (rockweed) is a foundational species that forms an underwater forest and supports a diverse community of invertebrates and vertebrates. Until sustainable levels of cutting and appropriate regulations are identified, commercial sale rockweed cutting presents a risk to coastal rockweed ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them.
“Stef: Lover of Ice in the Land of Lobster”
Meet Stef! The only harp seal pup known to ever have been born on the shores of Maine – hundreds of miles from harp seal birthing grounds in Canada. Watch as this charismatic day-old seal grows up within the walls of the Maine Rehabilitation Center at the University of New England. Lucky to have been born within US Borders, Stef is protected from the Canadian seal hunt for her first few months of life.
Angelo Villagomez and Rob Stewart
The commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands enacted the world’s second shark-fin ban on January 27, 2011. This short film tells the story of Kathy Pagapular’s sixth grade class at San Vicente Elementary School on the island of Saipan, and how a class project led to the world’s second shark fin ban.
“Isla Coronado Ghost Net”
Showing the discovery and removal of a ghost net and lobster traps from the Coronado Island just south of San Diego, CA. Filled with exploration, a team of technical divers are assembled to remove this massive net.
“Sink or Swim Tokyo”
In the spirit of ocean conservation the Japan-based non-profit organization, PangeaSeed, is ramping up it's summer activities in Tokyo and abroad with events tailored to address one the biggest threats facing the health of world's oceans today -- the rapid mass depletion of sharks. “Sink or Swim Tokyo” documents the efforts of this organization to promote awareness of shark killing through mediums such as art, music, and film.
“Seeding the Keys”
Seeding the Keys documents local coral enthusiast Ken Nedimyer’s efforts to bring back staghorn coral to the Florida Keys, a species that has all but disappeared since the late 1980s.
Winter fades, spring dawns, and the season inevitably move towards midsummer, where an encounter with one of nature’s true giants awaits. This film documents the awe-inspiring experiences and diverse marine communities in the temperate waters of the United Kingdom.
In 2012 we also hosted 10 mini-screenings across the United States as well as internationally. For more information on these, please see the "Mini-Festivals" section of our page.
2011 saw the festival heading south—Mobile, Alabama. Riding on the hype generated from our first year, it was a difficult task to choose the top 20 films to be screened at the event. As the lights dimmed and the introduction video began, the excitement in the room was palatable. From documenting the surfing of giant waves, to research on spotted eagle rays, to algal forests and ice expeditions in the Arctic, Alabama marked a year of tremendous growth. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we can only hope that the 2012 festival will be even better.
Best of Festival
“Once Upon A Tide,” Harvard Medical School
Best Conservation Film
“Sink Your Shucks,” Harte Research Institute
Best Student Film
“Under the Boat,” by Alexandra Warneke
“Shark Culture,” by Joe Romeiro 333 Productions
March 2010 marked our first ever festival, held at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a well-known surfing town on the mid-Atlantic coastline of the US. Through grassroots PR, we showcased 20 diverse films for the competition—with submissions coming from students, scientists, conservationists, nature lovers, and industry professionals. Over two nights, we drew in over 400 audience members who were treated to a wide array of films depicting stories such as: the shocking truths of shark finning in South Africa, a humorous take on the debate over seabird conservation and land use in the Outer Banks, a scientist’s rap song about invertebrate zoology, a dive into Pacific coast kelp forests and marine protected areas, and a story about an explosion of squid populations in southern California. The inaugural event was judged by a panel of researchers and well known nature filmmakers.
Best Of Festival
“Sharks in Deep Trouble,” by Lesley Rochat
Best Student Film
“Shifting Sands: The Fight for the Outer Banks,” Ashwin Bhandiwad
Best Conservation Film
“Squidilicious,” by Gary Hawkins
Most Original Piece
“What Invert You Like,” by Dr. Jeremy Long