Looking for the best ocean-themed documentaries on the planet? For World Ocean Day, we’ve fished up these hard-hitting, inspiring and beautiful portrayals of the deep blue sea.
Oceans make up 96.5 percent of the world’s water
A habitat vital for human survival as much as for the life that calls the sea home, humanity is fast waking up to the need to protect the deep blue. If you can’t get outside to enjoy the sight of the deep blue this World Ocean Day, do the next best thing and see these top ocean-themed documentaries.
About ocean preservation
Directed by Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon
Get to know the ground-breaking work of oceanographer and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr Sylvia Earle, whose water work in Mission Blue will make you well up.
About coral reefs
Directed by Jeff Orlowski
“Under the sea” sang Sebastian the crab among animated friends and coral reefs. Fast forward to today and he and his friends might not be so impressed at the rapid disappearance of coral from across the globe. In Chasing Coral, divers, photographers and scientists start an epic adventure to reveal the reasons for coral depletion.
Blue Planet II
About ocean biodiversity
On Amazon Prime
Directed by Various, on behalf of BBC
No documentary list would be complete without the legend Sir David Attenborough. Dive into an endless stream of arresting, awe-inspiring ocean footage, emperor penguins and unusual species.
About shark finning
On Amazon Prime
Directed by Rob Stewart
Shark finning might not be as notorious as plastic pollution or biodiversity loss, but it’s gravely damaging the ocean. Explore the billion-dollar shark fin industry in this exposé of political corruption at sea.
About dolphin preservation
Directed by Louie Psihoyos
What happens when an activist and filmmaker team up with a preservation society to expose one of Japan’s most gruesome secrets? The Cove won a Best Documentary Oscar.
Directed by Ali Tabrizi
You’ll have heard talk of this documentary during the pandemic. Seaspiracy will change the way you look at the ocean, its inhabitants and everything it produces. Not for the faint-hearted.
A Plastic Ocean
About plastic pollution
Directed by Craig Leeson
Winning dozen awards, A Plastic Ocean raised the alarm about the growing threat of plastic polluting the oceans. Shot in 20 locations over four years, this is a hard-hitting exploration of plastic’s impact on the seas.
About orca captivity
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Following the story of captive orca Tilikum who killed three people, Blackfish is the shocking story of the devastation caused by keeping wild animals for entertainment.
My Octopus Teacher (above)
Directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed
The result of a human-octopus friendship, this heart-warming documentary looks at cross-species connection below the surface. Tissues at the ready.
Did we miss any great ocean-themed documentaries?