By Marlena Chavira-Medford
As veteran sea divers, Howard and Michele Hall have explored a dazzling underwater wonderland most will never visit. One of their many journeys is featured in the 2003 film "Coral Reef Adventure," which is being screened at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center's IMAX theater this month.
In this 45-minute film, Howard and Michele — who served as director of underwater photography and production manager for the film, respectively — travel across the South Pacific. Beginning at the Great Barrier Reef, they embark on a journey that takes them into the canyons of the Rangiroa atoll among hundreds of sharks to a coral reef-sustained village in Fiji. It was off the coast of Fiji, in fact, where Howard got a rare glimpse of sea life a staggering 370 feet below the surface, a dive that led to the discovery of five new species of fish.
"When you're that far down, you don't see any warm colors," he recalled. "It's like walking through a moonlit dessert."
And because those underwater images are captured using cutting-edge IMAX technology, moviegoers get to see everything in vivid splendor. The movie aims to do more than entertain, however. During their expedition, Howard and Michele also visit some reefs that are on the verge of extinction, making the sobering point that while it takes thousands of years for one to form, reefs can die very quickly, and many are in jeopardy. Howard and Michele hope that shedding light on the issue will help views become more aware, and therefore make more environmentally conscious lifestyle choices.
The Del Mar couple's love for the sea began decades ago. After studying zoology at San Diego State University, Howard started shooting underwater films and photography for other producers in the late '70s, and by the early '90s the couple decided to launch their own company, Howard Hall Productions.
"My first career was a nurse, but I eventually left that to join the family business," Michele explained. "For us, it's worked out really well. Our talents complement each other."
When they're not busy running their company, Michele said they're likely sea diving in their favorite spot: "Wherever we so happen to be that day."
IF YOU GO
- What: "Coral Reef Adventure"
- Where: IMAX Dome Theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado
- When: Now through Sunday, Oct. 31. Show times vary. For more information, visit www.rhfleet.org/site/imax/coral_reef.cfm
- For more information about Coral Reef Adventure, visit howardhall.com