The Dark Hobby * A Compelling Documentary Exposing the Ugly Truth of the Aquarium Hobby

The Dark Hobby is an exposé of the devastation to species and reefs caused by the aquarium trade. This adventurous saga follows a band of Hawaiian Elders, conservationists and scientists who stop at nothing to protect marine wildlife. They file a lawsuit against the State of Hawai’i to halt the collection of reef creatures, a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D., comments, “The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.” See his full review below.

The Dark Hobby (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

How can we fix what we don’t know is broken?  How can we make change for something if we can’t see what is wrong?  The answer is simple…we can’t unless we are aware that a problem exists. Hidden under the surface of our oceans within some of the riches habitats on the globe, there IS a problem and we must take immediate action to save our natural world before it disappears. The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.

Aquariums are certainly beautiful and enjoyable for humans, but they come at a huge cost to other living things involved in this “hobby” industry. The Dark Hobby highlights some alarming statistics within this captive industry that are sure to shock those that admire these artificial habitats. The film takes us to Hawaii’s Kona Coast where Robert Wintner, the film’s executive producer and long time marine activist, educates us on the dismal journey of marine life from capture to captivity. Several other activists and research scientists offer additional evidence on this ever so cruel hobby. Plucked from their natural habitat, 99% of marine wildlife die within the first year of captivity – only to be replaced following their death. The continuous demand to replace aquarium life drives many “aquarium collectors” into the business, causing great devastation to marine ecosystems. The Dark Hobby refers to fish keeping as a “global travesty demanding the world’s attention” and this film is sure to change minds.

The Dark Hobby takes us underwater to some of the richest marine habitats in the world. This exclusive footage is outstanding and beautifully captured by the film’s cinematographers. The Hawaiian ecosystems shown in this documentary are so diversified and viewers get a firsthand look at what could be lost if we continue to allow wildlife to be stolen.  The scenes with including Native Hawaiians speaking out to save their culture are especially powerful and a great addition to the film.

The message in The Dark Hobby is about the need to open our eyes and think critically about all that is involved in human entertainment.  Humanity can be driven at times by greed and selfishness, which can cloud reality.  Humans are taking away marine life’s most prized possession – their freedom – and this film gives us the information and education we need to speak out about giving that freedom back.

I give The Dark Hobby 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially animal activists, will also love this documentary. The Dark Hobby makes its debut May 21, 2021 on a variety of digital platforms. Please spread the word, it’s critical that this film’s message be heard.

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