There are some wonders of the undersea world that pioneering marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau never saw. However his son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, has not only seen these wonders, but he has also filmed them for others to see.
A screening of that 20-minute film, “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D,” was shown on June 30 at Camana Bay Cinema. During the question-and-answer session afterwards, Cousteau spoke about the importance of marine conservation, noting that everyone is connected to the world’s water system, no matter where they live.
“We have made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “This has to change and we can help through programmes like the Ambassadors of the Environment.”
The Ambassadors of the Environment is the educational component of the non-for-profit called Ocean Futures Society. It is an organisation that was started by Cousteau in 1999, in honour of his father’s legacy. Ocean Futures Society focuses on marine conservation, education and inspiring people around the world to protect the world’s oceans.
In “Secret Ocean 3D,” Cousteau and marine biologist Holly Lohuis explore the underwater world of the Bahamas and the Fiji Islands to view the small species that play crucial roles in the marine environments. The viewers are introduced to more than 30 different marine species and their behaviours, all of which have been caught on film using new technology available to Cousteau and his team.
During the Q&A, Cousteau was asked about the biggest changes in the marine environment he was seeing. “I have seen the absence of many species that I used to see,” he said, “It’s very sad. We’re losing many species and the environment is being affected in a very devastating way. I’m not there to criticise, I’m there to help and every one of us can make that happen.”
Cousteau has been diving for 70 years and he said he has also seen tremendous changes in the ocean over the years due to the heavy use of plastic around the world. He gave an example of a time when he visited the Hawaiian Islands and saw pollution from plastic debris with names of countries from all over the world. After making a film, he met with the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, to show her the film and she contacted the White House. “I’m going to give a lot of credit to Laura Bush, former First Lady of the United States, who said ‘Let’s see the show,’” he said. “For the first time our two-hour special, ‘Voyage to Kure,’ was screened at the White House. At the end of the event former U.S. President George W. Bush said, ‘Let’s get it done.’”
Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national marine protected area, the largest marine protected area in America. Two years after, at a conference in Hawaii, President Barack Obama multiplied what President Bush had done by four in terms of total area, Cousteau said.
Ambassadors of the Environment
The Ambassadors of the Environment programme on Grand Cayman began in 2006 at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. There are four principles that are central in all of its programmes: Everything runs on energy; There’s no waste in nature; Biodiversity is good; and Everything is connected.
Nicole Boriski, manager of the Ambassadors of the Environment at The Ritz-Carlton, spoke about the programme the week following the event.
“The Ambassadors of the Environment is really important because we are based at several facilities around the world,” she said. “We’re visiting a natural environment and getting hands-on learning about science, but in a really fun and experiential way.”
Boriski said the goal of the programme, which is available for adults as well as children, is to study how human societies and cities can be more like nature and to determine how the programme’s four principles can be incorporated into modern life.
“How can we harness the power of the sun more effectively instead of relying on fossil fuels? How can we reduce the waste we are putting into nature and instead reuse it?” she asked, giving two examples of how the core principles can be incorporated in the programme’s teaching.
The Ambassadors of the Environment programme offers activities like snorkelling and cooking for ages four to nine; and night snorkelling, mangrove kayak adventure and more for adults with or without their children. The activities are three hours long and cost between US$85 and US$95 for visitors. For locals there is a 20 per cent discount on all activities.
Boriski said the feedback from people attending the screening of “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D” was positive and that some wanted to know when they could see the film again.
“I want to get together again with Dart and the cinema and do another event for ‘Wonders of the Sea,’ the newer [Jean-Michel Couseteau] film that’s been produced,” she said.