Netflix documentarian from “Chasing Coral” Zackery (Zack) Rago will host a lecture at Hendrix Theater on East Carolina University’s campus tomorrow from 9 to 11 a.m. to share his experiences from the film, interact with viewers and express the importance of environmental conservation.
Chad Carwein, sustainability manager for Sustain ECU, said the lecture is one of several events planned with Rago. He said an event people can attend before the lecture is a film screening of the documentary “Chasing Coral” at the Town Common tonight at 6 p.m. where Rago will be.
According to the Zack Rago Lecture Facebook page, the event will be hosted by Sustain ECU and the ‘Love a Sea Turtle’ nonprofit organization.
Carwein said ECU students are encouraged to come to the lecture and there are already over 600 high school students attending from public and private schools. He said although there will not be much opportunity to interact with Rago at the lecture, there is an event later people can attend to speak with him personally.
There will be a socializing event with Rago hosted by Sustain ECU and ‘Love a Sea Turtle’ at Uptown Brewery from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow for people to directly interact with him.
Carwein said “Chasing Coral” came out in 2017, so Rago will speak about his work on the documentary and provide an update in his lecture on the current status of some of the coral reefs the crew captured while encouraging people to take action.
“He’ll be talking about what people can do,” Carwein said. “We're all contributing to climate change and climate change is what’s warming the ocean, when the ocean is warm it’s just like you getting a fever.”
Carwein said Rago began environmental documentaries by working on a film called “Chasing Ice,” a documentary featuring time lapses of glaciers to show climate change, before going on to be a cast member in the film “Chasing Coral.”He said Rago is very passionate about coral reefs.
“He’s basically a self-proclaimed coral nerd,” Carwein said. “He loves coral reefs and the ecosystem they provide for fish and other marine life.”
Rago’s involvement in “Chasing Coral” was purely coincidence, Carwein said. He said Rago was approached to make the documentary due to his involvement in ‘Chasing Ice’ without the knowledge of his love for coral reefs.
“It wasn’t until they met that he realized that Zack was already really into coral reefs,” Carwein said. “He had some experience with diving and actually grew his own coral in a lab, so it was sort of just the perfect harmony.”
Hundreds of hours were dedicated by Rago and other underwater cameramen to create the documentary “Chasing Coral” by retrieving shots of the coral featured in the film, Carwein said.
Carwein said he has a lot of admiration for the work Rago contributed to the documentary and Sustain ECU looks forward to hosting him.
This is a unique opportunity made possible by a global competition called ‘Make Waves’ which Sustain ECU won with the help of ‘Love a Sea Turtle’ according to Carwein. He said the ‘Make Waves’ competition required a screening of the “Chasing Coral” documentary, contributed photos and written essays.
Carwein said the contest had entries from businesses and colleges all over the world but ECU prevailed.
“We’re very fortunate to have him and really view it as an opportunity to put Greenville and eastern North Carolina on the map,” Carwein said.
Dan Sokolovic, father of founder Casey Sovolovik from ‘Love a Sea Turtle’, said Casey founded ‘Love a Sea Turtle’ when she was eight years old. He said they do various outreach programs with youth and are based of Greenville with a mission to protect sea turtles.
Sokolovic said he expected Greenville to be overlooked in the ‘Make Waves’ contest, but ECU won and now their group has collaborated with Pitt County Schools, ECU and the producers of “Chasing Coral” to create this opportunity.
‘Love a Sea Turtle’ will have 15 different youth activists setting up tables at the lecture event, said Sokolovic.
Sokolovic said it is undeniable coral is dying in the oceans and climate change is a real issue, which Rago will be discussing in his lecture. He said he hopes people see these problems seriously.
“Hopefully the message that will resonate is: there’s a lot to be done,” Sokolovic said. “Everyone has to join in and help and in Greenville, we sit on the front lines.”