Get Glowing with Coral Reef Conservation
By Richard Vevers
Richard Vevers is the Founder and CEO of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that uses creativity, technology and powerful partnerships to accelerate ocean conservation and climate action. The Ocean Agency is the team featured in the Netflix Original Documentary Chasing Coral, and the team that took Google Street View Underwater.
Corals rank as one of the most important animals on the planet. The “underwater cities” they build — coral reefs — dwarf the cities that humans have built. In fact, they support a quarter of all ocean life and an estimated million individual species, not to mention supporting a billion people with food and income.
Half a billion years of evolution have given corals near magical powers, such as the ability to clone and not age, grow their own food in their flesh, create clouds to cool themselves down and turn water into stone. However, corals live at a speed and scale we find almost impossible to appreciate, so when people consider conservation, corals get virtually no attention compared with bigger creatures we know and love like whales and turtles. Corals, despite their global importance, are left with little support and protection.
With the constant negative reports coming out about the state of the world’s reefs, and the lack of action, it’s easy to get lost in the doom and gloom. Traditional approaches to conservation communication simply don’t work for saving corals and coral reefs. Instead, we need to be far more creative to inspire public support and action.
To do just that, The Ocean Agency joined forces with UN Environment, Adobe and Pantone and launched a campaign called Glowing Glowing Gone, which takes a more creative, refreshing approach to coral reef conservation. Together, we are aiming to unlock the potential of the global creative community and, in so doing, rapidly grow mainstream support for coral reef conservation, creating enough attention and excitement around the issue that it quickly becomes a high priority for ambitious policy and funding support. This strategy worked for ocean plastics, and it can work for even bigger issues such as saving coral reefs.
The creative inspiration for the Glowing campaign came from the corals themselves. Some corals create an incredibly bright chemical sunscreen to protect themselves from ocean heat waves and excessive sunlight. This phenomenon, called coral fluorescing, happens during the coral bleaching process and makes the corals appear to “glow.” It’s nature’s most vibrant warning signal — a signal that we’ve reached a tipping point for the planet — but it’s a warning that is going completely unnoticed.
Using new technology, Adobe and Pantone teamed up and directly sampled the colours of these Glowing corals (uniquely captured during the filming of the Emmy-winning Netflix Original Documentary Chasing Coral to create an official Pantone range of colours — the Colours of Ocean and Climate Action. The Glowing campaign launched in June with a challenge for the creative community to use these colours to amplify coral’s warning signal and show support for urgent action. The initial phase of the campaign was a big success with well over 1,000 creatives getting involved.
They inspired major brands like the World Surf League to get on board, too. The world’s best surfers competed in Glowing jerseys at a Glowing-themed pro-tour event in Tahiti, broadcasting support for coral reef conservation to the world. For the next phase, we are looking to get more brands and celebrities involved and working with PADI to urge the diving community to “get Glowing.” To follow along and get involved, visit glowing.org
A ‘Thank You Footnote’ to Fourth Element from The Ocean Agency and our Glowing campaign:
Fourth Element is the longest-running sponsor of The Ocean Agency, providing us and our partners with the best possible diving equipment at every stage of our journey. They have kitted us out to take Google Street View underwater, reveal the 3rd global bleaching event, film Chasing Coral and have supported all our conservation projects since. We couldn’t be prouder to wearing the Fourth Element lines and thank them enough!