CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University filmmakers will be offering three free special screenings of a feature-length documentary on coral reefs that they produced after spending three years traveling around the world to document the decline of coral ecosystems.

The screenings, narrated by Emmy-winning narrator Peter Coyote, who has voiced several documentaries by Ken Burns, including last year’s “The Vietnam War,” will be held in February in Portland, Corvallis and Newport.

The film, “Saving Atlantis,” focuses on the dramatic decline of coral reef ecosystems around the world and the impact on people who depend on them. The film’s producers followed coral microbiologist Rebecca Vega Thurber and other researchers from Oregon State and around the world who are uncovering the causes of coral decline and looking to find solutions so they don’t completely disappear.

“We are a global university with a land grant mission,” said David Baker of Oregon State Productions, the team behind the documentary. “It’s our responsibility to make sure stories like this are told.”

The special screenings are scheduled for:

  • 7 p.m., Feb. 15 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI),  1945 SE Water Ave., Portland;
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State, 875 SW 26th St., Corvallis; and
  • 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 as part of a double feature with the Hatfield Film Festival at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W. Olive St., Newport.

While the screenings are free to attend, advanced reservations are encouraged. They can be made by visiting this web site:

The project started with a National Science Foundation grant received by Vega Thurber, an associate professor at Oregon State, to study the coral microbiome around the world.

The grant included funding to document her lab’s research on coral reefs in Australia, French Polynesia, Columbia, Saudi Arabia and Hawaii. With the footage they gathered, they created a five-part series of short films. 

As the filming took place during a period of dramatic coral decline due to massive bleaching events, Vega Thurber and the team decided the series could be turned into feature-length documentary to increase awareness about the issue. “Saving Atlantis” was born.

During the past year, Baker, along with an OSU Productions team that includes co-producer Justin Smith, and cinematographers Darryl Lai and Daniel Cespedes have produced the documentary.

After the three previews the documentary will screen at festivals including the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs this coming April. They plan to look for a distribution deal that would make the documentary available more widely.

All proceeds from the documentary will be used to allow student filmmakers, writers and artists to document the research of other OSU scientists and students in a new initiative to fuse science and storytelling.

The screenings are part of the OSU150 Sea Grant Festival, which runs from Feb. 12 to 24. The festival is one component of Oregon State’s commemoration of its 150th anniversary. The OSU150 Sea Grant Festival encompasses a series of free talks and interactive tours centered around the university’s decades of work protecting coasts and oceans.


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.

Story By: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787,


David Baker, 541-737-8323,