The Blog

2012 Festival

When: Friday March 23, 2012, 6:30-8:30 PM

Where: Norfolk Virginia, Nauticus Museum. The Festival is held in conjunction with the 41st Benthic Ecology Meeting, hosted by Old Dominion University.

This year we received the most entries yet, many of which were unique and engaging. As such, we have a library of films for exhibition in 2012, including the main even in March 2012 as well as the film festival tour, the “Shore Dive Series.” Below is the official list of 28 films to be screened in Norfolk:

Beneath the Waves Film Festival: 2012 Intro Video from Triakis Films on Vimeo.

Joe Romeiro
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.

Patrick Rynne
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.

“Sea Harmony”
Monika LaPlante
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 Weddell Seal Pups Couch Potatoes?”
Mary Lynne 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”
John Bruno
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”
Chris Paporakis
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.

“Trophic Cascades of the Purple Marsh Crab”
Stephanie Yin
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.

“Watermelon for Aquanauts”
Joe Pawlik
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.

Gaby Bastyra
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.

“Discovering the Abyss”
Gritta Veit-Kohler
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.

“Lionfish Invasion”
Ziggy Livnat

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.

“Meet Wilson”
Lesley Rochat
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”
Shawn Heinrichs
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”
Nick Stec
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.

“Befriending Giants”
Shawn Heinrichs
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”
Paul Hillman
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”
Samantha Whitcraft
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”
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”
Shannon Prendivlle
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.

“Sharkwater Saipan”
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”
Walter Marti
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”
Tre Packard
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”
Seth Greenspan
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.

Simon Spear
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.

“Time Will Tell”
Madison Stewart
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.

Filmmaking Workshop

On March 24, a free 3-hour conservation filmmaking workshop will take place for conference attendees. This all-new hands-on workshop will provide insights and success stories on how to integrate research and film, while teaching participants the fundamentals of filmmaking and the tools currently available for crafting your own message. The workshop will be led by Ali Habashi, a well-known filmmaker, as well as the Beneath the Waves Team.

Ali Habashi is an award winning documentary film-maker, the director of Arnold Center Confluent Media Studies and an adjunct faculty member for the Motion Picture Program at the University of Miami. Filming stories in more than 30 countries, his documentary work has been aired on international Cable and Public TV channels such as Discovery (US and India), Canal+(France), CZTV (Czech Republic), LAPTV (Latin America) and CNN Türk. His last work as the Co-Director and Editor of “One Water”, a global documentary film about our changing relationship to potable water was premiered at the Miami International Film Festival to critical acclaim in 2008 and won numerous international awards including Best Environmental Feature Award at the Artivist Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Golder Associates Award for Best Film on Sustainable Development at Cineambiente in Turin, Italy as well as Best Documentary at the Foyle Film Festival in Derry, Ireland. A TV version of this film, narrated by Martin Sheen had its TV premiere on the Discovery Network’s Planet Green in 2010 and found its way to international Cable and Public TV channels in France, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Poland and Turkey.
Mr. Habashi has been invited as the guest presenter in several conferences and international events including Patagonia Agua (Viedma, 2011), the Global Business Forum, “The Business of Health Care” (Miami, 2011), UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, 2009), World Bank Headquarters (Washington D.C., 2009), 5th World Water Forum (Istanbul, 2009), Baka Forum (Basel, 2009), Sea Secrets Lecture Series (Florida, 2008), TECDO (Santo Domingo, 2008), INFOBAE (Buenos Aires, 2008).

During the banquet on the evening of March 24, the film festival winners will be announced. Three prizes will be given: “People’s Choice,” “Best Conservation Film,” and “Best Student Film.”


2012 will also mark the start of a new touring film festival called the Beneath the Waves “Shore Dive Series.” These mini-film festivals give filmmakers another venue to tell their stories at various community theaters, exhibit halls, galleries, and universities across the United States as well as internationally. Many of the films that were submitted have been selected for the Shore Dive Series. We have 3 locations confirmed at this moment and are working on details. Dates and locations to be announced. Stay tuned!