“Sonic Sea” Wins Two Emmy Awards

Advocacy Groups’ Film About the Devastating Effects of Ocean Noise Pollution on Marine Life Was Named Outstanding Nature Documentary

NEW YORK, NY  A film produced by an unusual partnership between two advocacy groups and a Hollywood creative studio won the Emmy awards for Outstanding Nature Documentary and Outstanding Music and Sound at the 38th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

Sonic Sea, narrated by the Oscar-nominated actress Rachel McAdams, exposes the devastating impact of ocean noise pollution on whales and other marine life. The film, which premiered on Discovery Channel, was produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Imaginary Forces, in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).


“We made Sonic Sea to raise awareness and bring about change,” said Daniel Hinerfeld, the film’s co-director and co-producer, and founder of NRDC’s film program. “The Emmy awards shine an even brighter light on this global problem and will advance our campaign to quiet the oceans.”

NRDC and IFAW already have used Sonic Sea to help spur the release of NOAA's long-delayed ocean noise strategy, convince the Canadian government to commit to reduce shipping noise in key habitats, inspire General Electric to help develop an industry consortium to reduce shipping noise, and to strengthen the fight against seismic blasting off the mid-Atlantic and southeast coasts.

“A hundred years ago our oceans were filled with the sounds of whales and other marine life communicating,” Joel Reynolds, NRDC’s Western Director, said at Thursday’s ceremony. “Today that communication is being drowned out by incredibly intense military and industrial noise, in a dark ocean world where hearing and being heard are essential to survival.”

Sonic Sea features interviews with the Grammy Award-winning musician, human rights and environmental activist Sting, as well as the renowned ocean explorers and educators Dr. Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau, and marine mammal scientists Dr. Christopher Clark and Dr. Paul Spong.

The film has screened at hundreds of universities, museums, aquariums and cultural institutions around the world and has aired globally on Discovery. It is distributed by Ro*Co Films in the educational market.

Sonic Sea is a film about sound,” Hinerfeld said, accepting the Emmy award for Outstanding Music and Sound. “Our sound team at Sonic Magic plunged the audience beneath the waves, our wonderful composer, Heitor Pereira, played a duet with the ocean. Their artistry is helping raise awareness and change the world.”


Watch the acceptance speech for Outstanding Nature Documentary Award by Joel Reynolds here.

Watch the acceptance speech for Outstanding Music and Sound Award by Daniel Hinerfeld here.

Watch Sonic Sea on-demand at vimeo.com.

About the film

Sonic Sea was produced by NRDC and Imaginary Forces, in association with International Fund for Animal Welfare and Diamond Docs. It was directed and produced by Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld, written by Mark Monroe (The Cove, Racing Extinction), edited by Christopher Johnson and scored by the Grammy-winner, Heitor Pereira (Minions, It’s Complicated). The director of photography was Stacy Toyama. The executive producers were Chip Houghton, Peter Frankfurt and Joel Reynolds; co-producers Lisa Whiteman and Franceska Bucci; associate producers Shawna Moos, Patrick R. Ramage, Dunja Vitolic and Kashina Kessler; consulting producers Michael Jasny, Tristan Bayer and Bronwyn Barkan. Google Oceans and SpaceQuest, Ltd provided data on global ship traffic used in several of the film’s animations.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.