‘Puff: Wonders Of The Reef’ Summary & Review – The Pufferfish That Never Gave Up

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For context, The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest reefs on the coast of Australia. It is located on the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, and can be seen from outer space, being one of the world’s largest structures made by living organisms. Puff, the sharp-nosed Pufferfish, is shown to be beginning his life in the Great Barrier Reef. Here, a world exists that’s smaller than our thumb. We see the intricate workings of nature.

Rose Bryne educates us through her narration that Puff’s world is delicate and difficult. Survival is key. But why not experience the Great Barrier Reef through Puff’s eyes as a whole new world underwater? In the nooks of the reef, microscopic beings living there are almost the size of a single grain of sand. Comparatively, almost unseen to the naked eye. How did they capture this?  

Director Nick Robinson marks the first Original Australian Documentary for Netflix with Australian actress Rose Bryne (Physical, Mrs. America) narrating Puff’s story to us. BioQuest Studios’ Pete West worked out a unique system via which he could shoot these beings and bring them into the limelight. Robinson found it rather hard to tell the story of the reef; he had to find an alternate form of storytelling. He found a couple of fish to audition and finally fixed on Puff the Pufferfish. Transforming him into an exciting protagonist helped create a storyline that would transport audiences to the whole reef, seamlessly.


‘Puff: Wonders Of The Reef’ Summary – Being Tiny Is Only A State Of Mind

The blue, seemingly endless stretch of water somehow protects this little puffer fish since he is unseen, but there is always the fear of being eaten. This instinct for survival helps Puff stay alert for beings bigger than him through a sense of smell that travels through the ocean waters. 

The Great Barrier Reef is a fascinating underwater world that Puff wishes to make his home. On his way to finding his school of fish to help him grow, survive and thrive, he meets many strange fish. One even almost eats him and helps him discover his superpower: he can blow up within seconds. 

Rose Bryne narrates to us the coral reef is a lot more than just a reef, it helps sustain itself and the life surrounding it. Certain things cannot be controlled, which may endanger Puff’s life. But this is the sea, and that is not something anyone can control. Puff understands he must move away to safer waters, and so when he finds his school, he stays there for three months. At this point, he is the size of a jelly bean. This size allows him to be spotted by predator fish, causing imminent danger to his life, and so he learns to hide within the reef to not be seen. 

But as time goes by, knowing his superpowers and the stripes on his body indicate that he is poisonous, most of the fish keep a distance. It does not mean he can’t be eaten yet, and hence this survival instinct keeps him moving. From three to six months, we see him move from his school and journey back towards the reef he calls home, crossing the flatbeds or the shallows as they call it, meeting various characters such as the Christmas Festive Worm that opens like a blue flower, a Mollusk, and so on. 

As Puff comes back to the reef, he finds the colors of the coral reflect the fact that they are suffering. The temperature of the water is above their comfort zone and entirely not to their liking. The zooxanthellae are stressed, and the coral releases them, making them lose energy and thus causing death to the corals. Puff seems lost in this Coral grave due to an increasingly warm ocean. He eventually sets off to find a healthier reef.

Puff, a baby pufferfish that wanders through the Great Barrier Reef
Credits: Netflix

The Great Barrier Reef’s Struggle – A Support and Necessity for Underwater Life

At the Great Barrier Reef, the temperature, the moon, and the waves egg the coral to release and allow the birthing of new life. After doing so, these baby egg corals lift and go to the surface, mixing with other coral colonies. When the egg meets its match, a microscopic larva forms. It drifts for days, and hearing the calls of the reef, dives. The larva is looking for a place to call home on the reef and begins to change into a young coral. Its skeleton blends with the reef. After hundreds and thousands of years of time, the coral metropolis begins to form.


Why ‘Puff: Wonders Of The Reef’ Is A Must-Watch Documentary?

While this ecosystem is endangered and supports so many life forms, the struggle is never-ending. However, with Puff’s story, we see that the sea never gives up and will always find a way to sustain itself. Robinson brings the most unique things of the blue world to the screen in the most riveting fashion, on the most influential platform, and we can only hope as humans that we help more fishes like Puff survive and thrive gleefully. 


Puff: Wonders of the Reef is the first Original Australian Documentary made in 2021 by Director Nick Robinson that tells the story of Puff, a baby pufferfish that wanders through the Great Barrier Reef, showing us the untold and unseen microscopic world of everything underwater.

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Anushka Rao
Anushka Rao
Anushka is a Storyteller and a Painter. She is still looking for a silver lining in any situation and figuring how innovative she can be to make the world a better place. Charisma and mystery with a spark of genius. A true Believer that films are our strongest power yet, for change.

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