The Academy’s newest original planetarium show reveals in exquisite detail the breathtaking beauty and biodiversity of coral reefs—and the scientists taking action to restore them.

Catch a preview of the show!

Learn the secrets of the “rainforests of the sea” as you embark on an oceanic safari of the world’s most vibrant—and endangered—marine ecosystems.

Narrated by Tony Award® winner Lea Salonga, the all-digital Expedition Reef takes full advantage of the Morrison Planetarium’s fulldome screen to immerse you in the undersea adventure. Along the way, discover how corals grow, feed, reproduce, and support over 25% of all marine life on Earth—while facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing.

“This is a difficult story [and] a turning point for reefs,” says Academy scientist and reef expert Dr. Rebecca Albright, “but it’s not too late.”

Now playing! See Daily Calendar for details. 

Two Academy scientists dive beside a large coral reef formation

Science Meets Cinema

The Academy's Visualization Studio worked closely with scientists across the Academy to ensure every pixel is scientifically accurate. Inspired by the digital reef renderings, Dr. Rebecca Albright is exploring how computer modeling could assist in future coral reef research and restoration efforts.

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A guest in silhouette gazes at the Philippine Coral Reef tank

In-House Inspiration

Academy scientists criss-cross the globe studying coral reefs. All you have to do is head downstairs. After the show, visit the Steinhart Aquarium’s 212,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep Philippine Coral Reef exhibit and be dazzled by thousands of colorful fish and towering coral colonies.

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Three Academy designers examine their digital creations on a trio of computer monitors

Digital Deep Dive

The remarkably realistic reef creatures in the film are actually composites of thousands of still images transformed into computer models by our award-winning VizStudio—a technique called photogrammetry. Software typically used to simulate crowds ended up being a perfect fit for creating schools of fish.

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A blue and yellow striped Chromodoris nudibranch creeps along some coral in this Expedition Reef still

Surprising Stats

  • Production time: 18 months
  • Runtime: 26:07
  • Frames per second: 30
  • Total frames: 47, 010
  • Pixels per frame: 13,176,795
  • Species depicted: 57*
  • Number of staff involved: 15

    *not including corals!

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