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Filming in Australia and islands in the South Pacific was really hard work….
Yea-right! Who wouldn’t want to film in those locations?! You call that work?

In fact, MacGillivray Freeman Films chose the South Pacific to film Coral Reef Adventure for the very reason you might suspect. The islands of the South Pacific hold, especially for those of us who have never been there, a special romance. A place where it’s always summertime, endless beaches stretch lazily beneath swaying palm trees. The colorful coral reefs, home to exotic-looking creatures, lie just beneath the sparkling sea. Many of us dream of going to places like these. In Coral Reef Adventure, you can!

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef in the world, in fact is the largest structure on Earth built by living things: corals. Almost 3000 individual reefs stretching approximately 1300 miles along the northeast coast of Australia comprise the Great Barrier Reef. An amazing variety of marine life and reef habitat reside here: more than 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of mollusks, and of course dolphins, turtles and gentle dugongs, a relative of the manatees.

Our crew filmed on and near Lizard Island, more than 50 miles off the Australian coast. Lizard Island is a National Park with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon. There’s a place called Cod Hole where you can find bigger fish than you (up to 6 feet long!) called Potato Cod, named for the big potato-looking splotches on their skin. These friendly fish are safe here because this is a special marine protected area. No one can catch or harm them.

The Great Barrier Reef has been a protected marine park since 1975. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough marine parks in the world yet, only one percent of the entire ocean is within protected areas. Marine parks are a good idea because the people who manage them make rules for fishing and boating, monitor the water quality and help preserve the animals, fish and plants that live there. There are many wonderful islands and reefs to see and visit at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In fact, two million people visit and dive there each year. Maybe someday you’ll be one!



Bula (pronounced Boo-la)! This word means “hello” in Fiji. In the film you meet Rusi Vulakoro, a Fijian man who is concerned about the coral reefs in his country. Rusi was born on one of the 300 islands of Fiji, only half of which are actually populated by people. On a map, you’ll find Fiji is almost 2000 miles northeast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. Almost four percent of all of the world’s coral reefs are found here and many have said that Fiji’s reefs are among the most beautiful in the world. When diving here you see many colorful fishes and corals of all shapes and sizes. Sea cucumbers, sponges and colorful Christmas-tree worms are amazing to see in the crystal-clear waters.

Fiji is known as the “soft coral capital of the world.” Soft corals don’t build reefs like hard corals do; they don’t secrete calcium carbonate to create the reef structure. Most of them do, however, contain helper algae and rely somewhat on the algae for their nutrition. Just like hard corals, soft corals can bleach and starve if the helper algae don’t return. Fiji, like many places in the oceans of the world, has suffered from coral bleaching in recent years. Learn more about bleaching on our website so you can see how your actions many miles away might help or hurt the reefs of the Pacific.



When people think about tropical islands they often imagine white sandy beaches, but on Tahiti most of the beaches are black sand. That’s because the sand is the remains of volcanic rock. Two extinct volcanoes meet to form the island of Tahiti. The coastline rises sharply from the ocean and the tall peaks are covered with dense tropical forests. Mt. Orohena is the tallest volcano, measuring almost 7200 feet. Tahiti is just one of about 100 islands that comprise French Polynesia, a territory governed by France.

Perhaps more than any other island on Earth, Tahiti stirs up pictures in the mind of a tropical south sea paradise. Artists, adventurers and writers flocked here in years past, and now 200,000 tourists vacation in Tahiti each year. (There are as many tourists as there are residents!) Like many popular South Pacific islands, Tahiti relies on tourism to help sustain its economy. Many of today’s tourists are divers and snorkelers who care very much about conserving the coral reefs that surround these popular places. Now more than ever, places like Tahiti are working to conserve and preserve their reefs for the residents and visitors who love this beautiful island paradise.



Not many people live in Rangiroa or visit this more remote place, which is also part of French Polynesia and located about 200 miles east of Tahiti. Whereas Tahiti is an example of a younger volcanic island whose coral reefs are close to shore, Rangiroa is a place where the volcano has subsided back into the ocean, leaving just a ring of coral that now comprises the island. This is called an atoll, and Rangiroa is the second largest atoll in the world (45 miles long and 15 miles wide).

Rangiroa’s atoll (coral island) surrounds a body of water called a lagoon. Rangiroa’s lagoon is deep and teaming with life: sharks of all kinds, manta rays, dolphins, jacks, tuna, sturgeonfish, and many, many more kinds of fish reside here. The lagoon is connected to the ocean through two channels that cut through the surrounding coral island. During tide changes, the water rushes in and out of the lagoon. In the film you see our team cruising at great speed through the channel (about eight miles per hour, which is fast for underwater!). But it isn’t just water that rushes back and forth between the lagoon and the ocean, the fishes do too!

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