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A Sea Change
Imagine A World Without Fish

Ocean acidification threatens over one million species with extinction--and with them, our entire way of life.

A printer-friendly version of this page 83 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Barbara Ettinger
Produced by Barbara Ettinger, Sven Huseby, Susan Cohn Rockefeller
Associate Producer: Ben Kalina
Director of Photography: Claudia Rashke-Robinson
Editor: Toby Shimin
Music by Joel Goodman
A Production of Niijii Films

"Sounds the alarm about ocean acidification while offering hope for the future." Chuleenan Svetvilas, San Francisco International Film Festival Program
A Sea Change documents how the pH balance of the oceans has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: a 30% increase in acidification. With near unanimity, scientists now agree that the burning of fossil fuels is fundamentally reshaping ocean chemistry. Experts predict that over the next century, steady increases in carbon dioxide emissions and the continued rise in the acidity of the oceans will cause most of the world's fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse--a state that could last for millions of years.

A Sea Change broadens the discussion about the dramatic changes we are seeing in the chemistry of the oceans, and conveys the urgent threat those changes pose to our survival, while surveying the steps we can take to reduce the severity of climate change. The film's protagonist Sven Huseby asks how will he explain to his oldest grandchild, Elias, what is happening to the oceans and their ecosystems.

A Sea Change is both a personal journey and a scientifically rigorous, sometimes humorous, unflinchingly honest look at reality. It offers positive examples of new technologies and effective changes in human behavior that we all must choose before the oceans are lost.

Note: A 60-minute version of the film, complete with chapters and SDH captions, is available here.

Grade Level: 5-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2009     Copyright Date: 2009
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-892-9

"The feeling that we have stolen something from our children falls heavy on the old, who wonder whether they have done right by themselves, their family, and their society. Sven Huseby feels this deeply as he discovers that his generation has profoundly changed the atmosphere by adding carbon dioxide...Instead of a starring personality who sucks the air from all around him, we see a thoughtful person who thinks and moves carefully, and never makes you feel sorry for him or the planet. When he asks questions, you feel that you want to help him and talk with him...Mr. Huseby wants you to test the roots of your idealism, your resolve, and your hope for the future and its children."
Jeffrey Levinton, Director, Marine Biology Web Page; Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University

"Ocean acidification is a significant part of the climate change story. A Sea Change does a unique and excellent job of conveying this complex scientific issue to the public."
Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

"Using a delightful series of exchanges between a grandfather and his grandson interspersed with beautifully filmed sequences from around the globe, A Sea Change presents in a generally understandable way the process of ocean acidification, some of its potential implications for this and future generations, and several examples of concrete steps that we can take to reduce this and other problems associated with increasing carbon dioxide emissions. It will serve to raise public awareness and facilitate open discussion of this important issue."
J. Timothy Wootton, Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago

"A Sea Change tells a powerfully frightening story of the unprecedented chemical changes currently underway in the world's oceans due to man's dependence on fossil fuels. This documentary conveys the magnitude of what we stand to lose if we continue conducting business as usual, but also provides hope that things can be turned around...if humanity comes to its senses."
Dr. John Guinotte, Marine Biogeographer, Marine Conservation Biology Institute

"[A] Sea Change highlights how human's addiction to carbon causes the chemical balance in the oceans to collapse...This film is a must in every high school chemistry classroom!"
Dr. James M. Cervino, Visiting Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

"Not to be missed...A good amount of scientific data is presented in this film, [and] the narrator is able to convey to the viewer in laymen terms some of the causes of ocean acidification and what could perhaps be done to slow the process. With a whopping 22 million tons of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans each day, a change needs to occur. Watching this film will open your eyes to the enormity of the issues of global warming and ocean acidification. Highly Recommended."
Deborah Provenzano, Suffolk County Community College, Educational Media Reviews Online

"'I wish I was a fish,' says young Elias when he and his grandfather Sven Huseby visit an aquarium. But as this documentary's subtitle--Imagine a World Without Fish--suggests, being a fish today is not exactly a winning proposition...Highly recommended."
Video Librarian

"The overall message is one of hope, resolve, and action...If there is any one film that should be seen and discussed by parents and their kids, this is it!"
AAAS's Science Books and Film

"This accessible look at a critical environmental issue deserves to be widely purchased and viewed."
Library Journal

"A Sea Change offers a searching, emotionally powerful look at ocean acidification. This problem is sometimes called the 'evil twin' of climate change, and many of us regard it as an existential threat to the future of fishing. The story is full of heart, scientifically accurate, and lyrical. It also offers good reason for hope, which is indispensable in the face of such a huge challenge."
Brad Warren, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

"A magnificent synthesis of science and heart."
Anne Alexander Rowley, Chair, Oceana's Ocean Council

"I completely fell in love with Sven and the extraordinarily bright Elias. The people in the film are very real and approachable and the ocean footage is stunning. Optimistic, with a whole section of solutions at the end. Broad appeal for all ages."
Dr. Cat Dorey, Sustainable Seafood Advisor, Greenpeace International

"Your wonderful film is still resonating deeply with me...You show us how intimately everything is interconnected by the way you constructed this film. You take us on a journey of passionate inquiry that any of us could take...and should. And then I am left with an urgent and clear understanding of just how delicate and gorgeous the ocean is and how important it is to do everything we can to protect it."
Lyedie Geer, Leadership Consultant, Walpole, NH

"Immense and profound."
Ned Sullivan, President, Scenic Hudson

"Could not be more timely. I believe acidification of our oceans is actually a greater threat to our survival than is temperature or sea level rise, the conventional 'global warming' threats. Acidification is confusing and difficult to even imagine for most people--we need your film."
Rob Moir, PhD., Executive Director, Ocean River Institute

"[The film] is willing to grieve and simultaneously move beyond grief to hope and inspiration...While the captivating images of ocean creatures deepen our attachment to the marine world, and while the sobering science confirms our worst fears, what resonates with the viewer is the humanistic tale of a family keenly concerned about the fate of the world."
Amy Seidl, Orion Magazine

"Deeply personal, yet scientific...A Sea Change is surprisingly uplifting. Much of the film identifies the ways that people, particularly young people, are trying to migrate away from a fossil fuel economy."
Yes! Magazine

"The story of a retired educator who becomes interested in, and finally consumed by, the declining state of the world's oceans, the film brings a crucial and little-known issue to the attention of filmgoers. The movie, which takes the audience to some of the globe's most attractive locales, brings to surprisingly absorbing life the subject of ocean acidification...[At] a time when plenty of documentaries want to be the Inconvenient Truth of fill-in-the-issue, A Sea Change brings a genuinely important subject to the fore with a welcome lack of jargon and preaching."
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"A Sea Change deliberately reaches out to people of all ages and political stripes. Kids will enjoy Elias's viewpoint. Newcomers to the subject will appreciate Sven's Mr. Rogers-like approach to interviews. The film is paced to allow for periodic reflection, and beautifully filmed along the rocky coasts of the Pacific Northwest and Norway, all the way to the Arctic."
Barbara Kessler, Green Right Now

"This eye-opening film sounds the alarm about ocean acidification while offering hope for the future by highlighting the people working on projects to reduce carbon emissions. Huseby's quest also constitutes a letter to his grandson, conveying his love of the sea and his sincere desire that Elias will inherit a world with oceans teeming with life."
Chuleenan Svetvilas, San Francisco International Film Festival Program

"Huseby launches an adorable About Schmidt-like road trip to meet the world's leading oceanographers and global warming experts to better understand the magnitude of the problem, and learn how to start curing it. The journey takes the genial narrator, and viewers, as far north as the North Pole and as local as Monterey in search of helpful news. Like An Inconvenient Truth, this film is both a love letter to the planet and an urgent plea to its citizens."
Justin Berton, San Francisco Chronicle

"Provides hope for what Huseby calls 'our entrepreneurial opportunity, our chance to explore what's possible'...'We have a 10-15 year window to make some noise,' he said. 'I would love to see the term ocean acidification become part of the political discourse.' And thanks to this film--and Huseby's love of the ocean--it just might."
Sarah van Schagen, Grist

"Tells the story of Ocean Acidification in a manner that is easily understood and easy to connect to. My children and I watched A Sea Change together. Elias and Sven's comforting presence on the screen guided us through this dark subject. Sven writes letters to Elias, sharing with him in his loving and gentle manner what he has learned from scientists. It is through these letters that connected us to the ocean and made ocean acidification real for us. But the most important piece of the documentary for me was the hope it gave. Sven Huseby and Barbara Ettinger not only presented the problems of ocean acidification, but more importantly they explored the solutions to it. A Sea Change inspires us to change so that we may become a sea of change for the world's oceans."
Laura Ballou, DC Examiner

"Ocean acidification is such a scary problem that many people would rather not think about it - kind of like climate change. But A Sea Change goes a long way toward making this uncomfortable topic oh-so-human."
Erica Gies, Matter Network

"Offers information to balance its visual beauties and varieties of love. But the presentation of this information is kept at a layperson level thanks to very vivid real world examples. Dozens of Exxon Valdez-level eco-disasters occurring simultaneously on the world's coastlines proves a very chilling metaphor for ocean acidification's effects."
Peter Wong, BeyondChron

"Equal parts captivating and troubling."
Stephen Hesse, The Japan Times

"The dire message of ocean acidification is beautifully conveyed in the film and does a wonderful job of highlighting the duty of us all to become educated and called to action."

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
includes scene selection and SDH captions.

Study guide for middle school
The film's website
Q&A After Screening at Danish Film Institute
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory's Ocean Acidification Home Page

Awards and Festivals
Grand Prize, Feature Documentary, FICA International Environmental Film Festival, Goias, Brazil
Audience Choice for Best World Documentary Film, Sedona International Film Festival
Best Coastal Film, Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival
Best Nordic Country Documentary, Polar Film Festival, Finland
Green Docs Award, Kosovo International Documentary Film Festival
Runner Up, Best Feature Length Documentary, Anchorage International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, Toronto
Blue Ocean Film Festival
Woods Hole Film Festival
Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival
FICMA, Barcelona International Environmental Film Festival
Bioneers Moving Image Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival
Southern Appalachian International Film Festival
Sonoma Environmental Film Festival
Amazing Earthfest, Kanab
CNEX Documentary Film Festival, Taipei
Chesapeake Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
Awareness Festival
Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival

American Studies
Arctic Studies
Climate Change/Global Warming
Endangered Species
Global Issues
Life Science
Marine Biology
Natural Resources
Oceans and Coasts
Renewable Energy


Related Titles

A Sea Change (Short Version)
Ocean acidification threatens over one million species with extinction--and with them, our entire way of life.

The End of the Line
The first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. Based on the book by Charles Clover.

Empty Oceans, Empty Nets
Examines the global marine fisheries crisis and the efforts to implement sustainable fishing practices.

Empty Oceans, Empty Nets (Short Version)
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Keepers of the Coast
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The Ecological Footprint
Dr. Mathis Wackernagel introduces the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures human demand on the Earth.

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... more Reviews

="ar11">Jess Reese, The Climate Project Presenter

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