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Silent Sentinels

Silent Sentinels

Coral reefs are the jewels of the ocean. Communities of organisms as rich and diverse as any above or below the surface of the planet, they encircle the tropics like an azure necklace.

1998 was designated 'International Year of the Oceans'. It turned out to be the year that coral reefs around the world began to die. Unprecedented mass bleaching swept the world's tropical oceans, in places leaving hundreds of miles of coral coastline - the fringes of entire countries in places - severely damaged. Following a number of similar but lesser events since the 1980s, this latest bleaching event is being touted as unequivocal proof that global warming has begun, and that it will have a greater impact than many think.

This program reveals disturbing evidence that even if coral can survive continually rising temperatures, they won't be able to escape the chemical effects of high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Experiments in Arizona's Biosphere II show that as the ocean is becoming more acidic, corals will grow more slowly and with weaker skeletons.

SILENT SENTINELS examines these claims and takes a step back to take a broader look at the coral organism and how it has coped with climate change over time. How coral both defines its environment and is created by it. It is a story of a polyp and a plant - one of the most successful biological relationships in the history of the earth.

SILENT SENTINELS was filmed in three oceans; on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the remote Scott Reef in the Indian Ocean; in the Maldives, the Red Sea, the USA and the Caribbean.

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