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10 Best Documentaries About Oceans

These documentaries about oceans, which cover over 70% of the planet’s surface, are a realm of breathtaking beauty and profound mystery.

These vast bodies of water play a crucial role in shaping the climate, supporting an incredible diversity of life, and providing a source of fascination for humans across the ages.

Documentaries about oceans offer a unique window into this underwater world, shedding light on the wonders and challenges of our marine environments.


Documentaries About Oceans

From the vibrant coral reefs teeming with colourful creatures to the deep, dark abysses where mysterious creatures dwell, these documentaries about oceans transport you to another realm.

Explore the beauty, mysteries, and environmental importance of the world’s oceans.


Blue Planet II (2017)

Blue Planet II is a nature documentary series produced by the BBC. It is the sequel to the original “The Blue Planet” series, which was released in 2001 (see further down the article).

This documentary about oceans consists of seven episodes, each focusing on different aspects of marine life and the world’s oceans.

The series is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, a renowned natural historian and broadcaster. “Blue Planet II” features breathtaking underwater footage, showcasing the beauty and diversity of marine ecosystems.

The series explores a wide range of topics, from the behavior of marine animals to the challenges they face in the changing environment.

Some of the notable episodes and topics covered in “Blue Planet II” include coral reefs, deep-sea ecosystems, the mysterious world of the open ocean, and the impact of human activities on the oceans, such as plastic pollution and climate change.

Blue Planet II received critical acclaim for its stunning cinematography and its efforts to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the world’s oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.

It also contributed to the ongoing global conversation about marine conservation and environmental sustainability.

Out of this list of documentaries about oceans, if you just had one to choose from to watch then make it this series.

Our Planet (2019)

Our Planet is a nature documentary series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Earth’s natural world, including a wide range of habitats and the incredible animals that inhabit them.

The series consists of eight episodes, each focusing on a different type of habitat, such as forests, grasslands, deserts, and oceans. In this case, it will be the “Deep Seas” episode that will interest you for a documentary about oceans.

It combines breathtaking cinematography with Sir David Attenborough’s narration to provide you with an in-depth look at the planet’s ecosystems and the challenges they face due to climate change and human activities.

Our Planet not only highlights the wonders of the natural world but also emphasizes the urgency of conservation and the need to protect these ecosystems.

It includes powerful and often distressing scenes that show the impact of human activities on wildlife and their habitats.

You can watch the whole episode of Deep Seas for free on YouTube:

The Blue Planet (2001)

This predecessor to Blue Planet II (mentioned above) is also narrated by Sir David Attenborough and showcases the wonders of the oceans, including the creatures that inhabit them and the challenges they face.

The series consists of eight episodes, each of which delves into a different aspect of marine ecosystems. Some of the notable topics and episodes covered in The Blue Planet include the open ocean, coral reefs, deep-sea creatures, and the polar seas.

The series showcases the incredible diversity of marine life, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales, and it highlights various aspects of their behavior, adaptation, and survival in challenging underwater environments.

The Blue Planet was a groundbreaking documentary at the time of its release, thanks to its use of advanced filming techniques and technology that allowed for unprecedented underwater footage.

It played a significant role in raising awareness about the importance of ocean conservation and environmental sustainability.

The series received critical acclaim at the time for its breathtaking visuals and engaging storytelling, and it remains a classic in the genre of documentaries about oceans.

Mission Blue (2014)

Mission Blue is a biographical documentary that focuses on the life and work of Sylvia Earle, an American marine biologist, oceanographer, and explorer who is often referred to as “Her Deepness.”

Sylvia Earle is a pioneering figure in the field of oceanography and marine conservation.

The documentary tells the story of Sylvia Earle’s lifelong dedication to exploring and studying the world’s oceans. It also highlights her advocacy for marine conservation and her efforts to raise awareness about the critical issues facing the world’s oceans, such as overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

Mission Blue takes you on a journey through Sylvia Earle’s remarkable career and features stunning underwater footage, showcasing the beauty and biodiversity of the world’s oceans.

The film not only celebrates Earle’s contributions to science and conservation but also emphasizes the urgent need to protect and preserve the marine environment.

The title “Mission Blue” refers to Sylvia Earle’s initiative to establish “Hope Spots,” which are areas of the ocean identified as critically important for conservation due to their unique ecosystems and biodiversity.

The film underscores the idea that the health of the ocean is essential for the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Chasing Coral (2017)

Chasing Coral focuses on the impact of climate change on coral reefs and the efforts of a team of divers, scientists, and photographers to document and raise awareness about coral bleaching.

The documentary features stunning underwater footage and follows a team of coral reef enthusiasts and scientists as they embark on a mission to capture the process of coral bleaching, which is a consequence of rising sea temperatures.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae that give them their vibrant colors, turning them white and leaving them vulnerable to disease and death.

Chasing Coral showcases the devastating effects of climate change and ocean warming on coral reefs around the world. It also highlights the rapid rate at which coral bleaching events have been occurring in recent years.

The film not only documents this ecological crisis but also serves as a call to action, encouraging you to take steps to mitigate climate change and protect the oceans.

Oceans (2009)

“Oceans” is a 2009 nature documentary film directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. The film is part of a series of nature documentaries produced by the Disneynature label and is known as “Océans” in its original French title.

The documentary focuses on the world’s oceans, exploring the marine life and ecosystems that inhabit the vast, interconnected waterways of our planet. Oceans features stunning underwater footage showcasing a wide range of marine creatures, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales.

The film takes you on a visually captivating journey through the world’s oceans, highlighting the incredible diversity of life beneath the waves.

It also delves into the challenges and threats facing marine life, such as overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

The documentary seeks to raise awareness about the importance of ocean conservation and the need to protect these vital ecosystems, like many of these other documentaries about oceans.

A Plastic Ocean (2016)

A Plastic Ocean is centered on the issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and the profound environmental and ecological consequences of this pollution.

The film follows Craig Leeson, an Australian journalist and filmmaker, as he teams up with Tanya Streeter, a world-champion free diver, to explore and document the extent of plastic pollution in the oceans.

They embark on a global journey, investigating the impact of plastic waste on marine life, ecosystems, and human health.

A Plastic Ocean presents alarming and eye-opening footage of the vast amounts of plastic debris that have accumulated in the world’s seas and oceans.

The documentary highlights how plastic waste not only harms marine life through ingestion and entanglement but also has far-reaching effects on the entire food chain and, ultimately, human health.

The film combines compelling storytelling with scientific information and serves as a call to action, urging you to reduce plastic consumption and take steps to address the issue of plastic pollution.

It emphasizes the importance of responsible waste management and recycling to protect the oceans and the environment.

A Plastic Ocean has played a significant role in raising awareness about plastic pollution and its environmental impact, as well as encouraging individuals, businesses, and governments to take action to reduce plastic waste and its adverse effects on the world’s oceans.

The Cove (2009)

The Cove primarily focuses on the controversial practice of dolphin hunting and captures the efforts of activists and filmmakers to expose the annual slaughter of dolphins in the town of Taiji, Japan.

The documentary follows a team of activists, including former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, as they work to uncover the secretive and brutal dolphin hunting industry in Taiji.

The film reveals how dolphins are herded into a hidden cove and brutally slaughtered, with some of the captured dolphins being sold to marine parks and aquariums around the world.

It combines investigative journalism with covert operations to document the events in Taiji.

The film not only exposes the cruelty of the dolphin hunting industry but also raises ethical questions about the captivity of dolphins in marine parks and the potential health risks associated with consuming dolphin meat.

It also highlights the environmental impact of these activities on marine ecosystems, like other documentaries about oceans.

The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010 and played a significant role in galvanizing public opinion and activism against the dolphin hunting practices in Taiji and the captivity of dolphins in the marine entertainment industry.

Atlantic (2016)

Atlantic explores the complex relationship between the people of Ireland, Norway, and Newfoundland and their shared connection to the North Atlantic Ocean.

It delves into the challenges faced by communities that rely on fishing and other marine resources for their livelihoods.

The film examines the impact of corporate and government policies on small fishing communities, exploring issues such as overfishing, industrial fishing, and the struggle for sustainability in the face of changing environmental and economic conditions.

The documentary showcases the resilience and determination of the people living along the North Atlantic coastlines as they fight to protect their traditional way of life and the marine ecosystems they depend on.

It also highlights the broader global issues related to overfishing, the depletion of fish stocks, and the consequences of these actions on both local communities and the environment.

Atlantic is a thought-provoking look at the challenges facing small-scale fishermen and coastal communities and the need for sustainable practices in the fishing industry and is one of the best documentaries about oceans that covers these topics.

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

My Octopus Teacher is a nature and wildlife documentary that tells the story of Craig Foster, a South African filmmaker and free diver, and his remarkable and deeply personal relationship with an octopus.

The film is set in the kelp forests of False Bay in South Africa and follows Craig Foster as he embarks on a year-long journey to document the life of a wild common octopus.

Over the course of this year, Foster develops a unique and intimate connection with the octopus, observing its behavior, intelligence, and survival strategies up close.

My Octopus Teacher explores themes of connection to nature, the profound impact of human interaction with the natural world, and the intelligence and resilience of marine life.

It also delves into the challenges and threats faced by marine ecosystems, including the kelp forests.

The film received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards.

It’s not just one of my favourite documentaries about oceans, but also one of my favourite documentaries of all time.


Oceans

These documentaries about oceans offer valuable insights into the oceans’ ecological significance and the environmental challenges they face.

There are plenty of other documentaries about oceans to watch, but these ar 10 of the best to choose from.

For more water-based activities take a look at cage diving with great white sharks near Cape Town.


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