This is what it looks like when a piece of coral dies.

[rebelmouse-image 19532184 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption="GIF via Netflix/Exposure Labs/YouTube, from the film "Chasing Coral."" expand=1]GIF via Netflix/Exposure Labs/YouTube, from the film "Chasing Coral."

This is a phenomenon known as coral bleaching, now captured in the award-winning documentary "Chasing Coral." To get these impressive shots, a team of photographers, divers, and scientists traveled the world to capture time-lapse photographs of coral bleaching events.


"The beauty with time-lapse photography is that you have the ability to shift how we as humans see and perceive changes that may move in the slow lane," says photographer Zack Rago.

Getting these images was a challenge. Divers had to spend hours each day battling the currents. And it could be emotionally difficult too.

"Being the person on the ground experiencing those changes is certainly emotionally taxing. I have a deep connection to coral reef ecosystems. Spending as much time as I have documenting their death is something that fills me with guilt and shame to this day," explains Rago. "At the same time, I also cherish those dives because I know that our team has revealed this issue to the world in meaningful and powerful way."

When asked if there was any single dive that was especially hard, Rago says yes. "There is one dive that was particularly difficult. In the hours leading up to the dive, I actually watched the first edit of our time-lapses. Seeing the images from day one and immediately going back out to those dying reefs was the single most emotionally challenging dive I’ll likely ever do."

Coral bleaching happens when the water around a reef becomes too warm.

During a bleaching event, the coral polyps (tiny creatures that actually make the reef) are effectively cooked, slowly turning white before dying. It doesn't take much, the episodes captured in Chasing Coral were the result of only a two-degree rise in water temperature, according to The New York Times.

Once the coral is dead, brown, sludgy algae take over, turning the once vibrant reef into something that looks like a parking lot.

[rebelmouse-image 19532185 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption="GIF via Netflix/Exposure Labs/YouTube, from the film "Chasing Coral."" expand=1]GIF via Netflix/Exposure Labs/YouTube, from the film "Chasing Coral."

This deadly warming is fueled by climate change, as more than 90% of the excess heat in our atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean.

"Coral reefs are in trouble. We know that if current trends prevail, we will lose the majority of corals on the planet in the coming decades," says Rago. Scientists have warned that, given current trends, we could lose most corals within 30 years. Vast swaths of the Great Barrier Reef (where these photos were taken) may already be past the point of no return.

Rago is planning to head back to the Great Barrier Reef this November to help identify "super corals" that could help scientists breed heat-resistant reefs.

As climate change becomes the new norm, it can be difficult to remember how the world once looked.

"We need to protect what we can right now," says Rago.

There are already a lot of exciting efforts underway. Nations around the world are currently rallying around stopping or mollifying the effects of climate change, with 169 different countries joining in on the landmark Paris 2015 climate agreement.

As they work out the best way to stop this, photography like these amazing time-lapse images can be a touch point for us — something to stick in our minds. And, if we fail, they can be a record for future generations.

"This problem may be hidden in our ocean, but the solutions start with us," Rago says. By sharing these images, people can help inspire friends, family members, or business or political leaders to action.

"Chasing Coral" premiered on Netflix in July 2017 and is still available to watch as of this writing.

If you want to see more, you can watch this three-minute video, including some of the time-lapse images, below:

Time-lapse video captures a disturbing phenomenon known as cor...

These before-and-after images remind us of what's really at stake in the climate conversations at #COP23. (via Chasing Coral)

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, November 10, 2017

The team was also able to capture a weird, rare event known as coral fluorescence, which is well worth a watch. If you'd like to find out more about the film, you can visit their website.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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