Inside The World’s Coral Bleaching Crisis – And How We Can Help

By Ellie Smith

4 weeks ago

Actor Bailey Bass on Earthrise's coral protection campaign with Coral Gardeners


This June, to mark World Oceans Month, Avatar: The Way of Water star Bailey Bass has joined forces with Earthrise to launch a campaign to protect the world’s coral reefs.

Together with the Earthrise storytelling team, led by award-winning filmmaker and Earthrise CEO Alice Aedy, Bailey has been on-the-ground in Tahiti to meet the Coral Gardeners – a Mo’orea-based organisation founded by Titouan Bernicot, who work to re-plant the world’s corals in the face of devastating coral bleaching. Here, we hear more from Bailey about what she learnt in Tahiti.

Bailey Bass On Restoring The World’s Coral Reefs

‘The thrill of waves crashing has always excited me. Growing up, I spent most of my summers at the beach in Brooklyn, New York. My grandpa holding my hands and spinning me around the splashing white caps will always be a core memory. I learned how to swim when I was eight, but it wasn’t until I took on the role of Tsireya in the Avatar franchise that I became a proficient swimmer. 

The Avatar team even took me through Scuba and Free Diving Certification so I could better understand Tsireya’s relationship with the water. Funnily enough, with this training, I became more comfortable filming underwater in the huge tank than running on the stage! Filming Avatar deepened my love for the ocean even more and when I was approached by Earthrise to meet the Coral Gardeners and join a campaign to protect the world’s corals, I couldn’t say no. 

Bailey Bass diving in Tahiti

I knew I would be Free Diving in French Polynesia and exploring the Coral Gardeners’ nurseries of newly planted reefs, but nothing could have prepared me for how full my heart would feel. Titouan and the Coral Gardeners team embody what activism should be. With determination sustained by the love of our oceans, they showed me that we can make a difference. 

Walking through the Coral Gardeners HQ, and seeing the joy on the team’s faces I was reminded that the ocean is magical and promotes play. During this campaign, I dove 50 feet into the ocean to explore corals in their natural habitat. I swam with black tip sharks and sting rays! I dove with Titouan by my side, exploring the Coral Gardeners’ farms. Feeling the sand between my toes and the water splashing on my face, I was reminded how calming and hopeful the sea is, and that it is our responsibility to protect it. 

But I also saw something terrifying. During my time in Tahiti, I witnessed beaches filled with white corals as well as rows of corals dying due to rising ocean temperatures. There is a coral bleaching crisis unfolding right now, which means the most biodiverse ecosystem on Earth is dying. This doesn’t just affect species below the land. The lack of biodiversity in the ocean endangers food security for all of us. 

Bailey Bass diving in Tahiti

Image by Noé Langronier

This can be an overwhelming truth, but the Coral Gardeners reminded me that it is still possible to make a difference. The team there is working night and day to re-plant and grow more resilient corals and save this vital ecosystem from the brink of collapse. The work that the Coral Gardeners are doing is truly incredible — but they urgently need your support. By donating to the fundraiser, and amplifying the campaign by sharing this post far and wide, you can help to support vital coral restoration efforts and fight back against the devastation of coral bleaching.’

Support the Coral Gardeners’ work by visiting coralgardeners.org and follow the campaign on Instagram.