The “Glowing Glowing Gone” campaign advocates for action for coral reef conservation by highlighting the global danger signaled by fluorescing corals.
Today, The Ocean Agency unveiled “Glowing Glowing Gone” — a global campaign advocating for greater funding and action for coral reef conservation by highlighting the global danger signaled by fluorescing corals. The campaign is based around colors specially developed by the Pantone Color Institute and Adobe, using new technology.
In 2016, a team from The Ocean Agency photographed one of the most spectacular and rarest sights in nature while filming the Netflix original documentary, Chasing Coral. A coral reef situated in New Caledonia was “glowing” in incredibly rare, vivid colors due to an underwater heatwave; the corals were producing brightly colored chemicals that act as sunscreen in a desperate bid to survive the fatally high water temperatures. This glowing coral phenomenon, called fluorescing, is one of the most visual indicators of the climate crisis and the existential threat to entire ecosystems such as coral reefs. However, until now, it has gone largely unnoticed.
The campaign, developed by The Ocean Agency — in collaboration with leading ocean conservation organizations including the International Coral Reef Initiative, UN Environment and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation — seeks to garner and visually showcase popular support for coral reef conservation, especially in the lead-up to key government decision-making conferences in 2020 regarding protecting biodiversity. Adding to the recent IPBES report, the collapse of coral reefs would represent one of the greatest single losses of global biodiversity.
“The future of the world’s coral reefs hangs in the balance, threatening both marine life and hundreds of millions of people who rely on them for food, livelihoods and coastal protection,” says UN Environment coral reef expert Gabriel Grimsditch. “We urgently need to sharpen global attention to the crisis facing corals if we, as a global community, are to prevent the loss of one of the world’s major ecosystems.”
Why coral reefs are so important
Coral reefs all around the world are extremely vulnerable to ocean warming, climatic changes and ocean acidification, and they need to be protected from additional anthropogenic stressors such as pollution, overfishing and uncontrolled coastal development to give them the best chance of survival. With 93 percent of climate-change heat absorbed by the upper ocean, coral reefs are firmly on the frontline of the climate crisis. In the last 30 years, we’ve lost over half of the world’s live coral, and the outlook is only getting worse. Corals are a foundation species, so when they die, the whole ecosystem can collapse — an ecosystem that supports 1 billion people, 1 million species and a quarter of all ocean life; and has an estimated value of $375 billion per year.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists predict we can now only save 10-30 percent of remaining coral reefs (those least vulnerable to the climate crisis) due to heat already in the system. To save coral reefs, there needs to be urgent targeted action and investment to protect them from other issues such as pollution and overfishing — especially the reefs that are least vulnerable to the climate crisis that have the best chance of surviving.
There is increasing awareness that when corals are subjected to prolonged heatwaves caused by the climate crisis, they often turn white and die (a process known as bleaching). Coral fluorescing, when corals ‘glow’ in vivid colors during the bleaching process, is far less common, and far less well known and understood.
Ocean warming is now the biggest environmental issue facing coral reefs. The ocean is as complex and fragile as the human body, and just a small increase in temperature leads to vital systems shutting down. Glowing corals are the indicator of system shutdown — it’s the ocean’s ultimate warning.
For the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign, the Pantone Color Institute and Adobe Color used new technology to identify the exact colors of coral fluorescence, using the imagery on Adobe Stock taken by The Ocean Agency in New Caledonia, and have developed three new Pantone “Glowing” coral colors. Glowing Yellow, Glowing Blue and Glowing Purple will be used as the visual cornerstone to the long-term campaign, which aims to involve brands and the creative community in raising global awareness of the coral reef crisis and advocating for greater conservation action.
“These Glowing colors are the ultimate visual indicator that we have reached a tipping point, not just for coral reefs, but for the planet,” says Richard Vevers, CEO and founder of The Ocean Agency. “For the first time in human history, we are on the verge of losing a major planetary ecosystem, and only urgent global action on a local and global level will prevent this from happening.”
The announcement of the colors comes after PANTONE 16-1546, Living Coral was selected to be Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019 and kicks off Pantone and Adobe’s support of “Glowing, Glowing, Gone.”
Pantone Color Institute VP Laurie Pressman says: “Top of our thinking for the selection of our Pantone Color of the Year 2019, Living Coral, was the arresting beauty we see in nature and the importance of the preservation of our environment. Living Coral is naturally exquisite — but ironically, it is the illuminating glow radiating from the dying coral that is demanding our attention. It is as if the corals are sending a color-coded SOS that says, ‘Please look at me; I need you to notice before I slip away.’ In that sense, these incredibly vibrant colors could be considered the colors of the climate crisis.”
The role of brands
The Adobe Stock 2019 Visual Trend “Brand Stand” identified that brands are no longer just interested in getting involved in causes, but are now actively taking action to drive movements. These “Brand Stands” are rapidly leading to conservation action, as demonstrated by continued brand involvement in initiatives to help solve the ocean plastics crisis.
“Adobe believes that how we perceive important issues in our culture, environment and future starts with how creatives visually bring these topics to the public eye,” says Adobe Stock Senior Director of Content, Brianna Wettlaufer. “Colors can become synonymous with important topics and create a connection, not just in a literal sense of discussion, but also in the way brands play a part in the conversation — similarly to the way pink has become emblematic of breast cancer research support. Adobe is proud to join forces with The Ocean Agency and Pantone to promote the importance and health of our oceans and their delicate ecosystems, and of paying immediate attention to the colorful warning signs coral reefs are showing us.”
A challenge to creatives
“Glowing Glowing Gone” starts with a challenge for the creative community to use the new range of Glowing colors to create attention-grabbing art and designs that raise awareness of glowing corals and the warning they represent. The art and designs will be promoted to inspire global support for action and showcased at key environment decision-making events. More details of the challenge, launching today, can be found at www.glowing.org.