Return to the Amazon

Expeditions:Return to the Amazon Expedition Team

Return to the Amazon

The Cousteau team has been on expeditions almost continuously for the past sixty years. Team members have come and gone and many have come back continuously for the next adventure. This list represents those team members who have been a part of the past, the present and may well be a part of future expeditions. Return to the Amazon aired on PBS in April 2008.

From high in the Peruvian Andes to deep in the Amazon jungle, we trek through treacherous mountains, remote jungles and unyielding waters, hiking up to glaciers in danger of vanishing, swimming with creatures made famous by towering legends, meeting indigenous people whom the world seems to have forgotten, running into gun-toting ranchers, and witnessing nature at its most docile—and at its most rebellious—all the while surviving wayward falling trees that narrowly miss us, sleepless nights with bats and tarantulas as unlikely bunkmates, float planes with engines that selfishly quit mid-flight and 36-hour boat rides with little food and water that should’ve only lasted eight hours. Through it all, we discover if man can live harmoniously with nature and how diverse, beautiful and quirky the rainforest and its denizens truly are.

Jean-Michel CousteauJEAN-MICHEL COUSTEAU, PRESIDENT, OCEAN FUTURES SOCIETY
Explorer, environmentalist, educator, film producer---for more than four decades Jean-Michel Cousteau has communicated to people of all nations and generations his love and concern for our water planet. The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel founded Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to carry on this pioneering work and to honor his heritage. Jean-Michel serves as an impassioned diplomat for the environment, reaching out to the public through a variety of media, producing over 75 films, receiving Emmy awards, the Peabody Award, the 7 d'Or, and the Cable Ace Award, and authoring hundreds of articles and several books. Jean-Michel travels the globe, meeting with leaders and policymakers at the grassroots level and at the highest echelons of government and business, educating young people, documenting stories of change and hope, and lending his reputation and support to energize alliances for positive change.

Céline CousteauCÉLINE COUSTEAU, Field Producer/Research/Additional Photography
Whether Céline is free diving, horse riding, hiking through the Andes or swimming with sharks in the South Pacific, the daughter of ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and granddaughter of legendary oceanaut Jacques-Yves Cousteau is an adventurer in her own right. With a master’s degree in international and intercultural management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT., Céline served as regional coordinator for Africa and the Middle East for the Earth Council Alliance. She also led excursions as travel guide and regional director for Butterfield & Robinson, an exclusive adventure travel company based in Toronto. She first joined her father during the filming of The Gray Whale Obstacle Course and has been working on documentaries around the world ever since. She acted as associate producer, expedition diver and logistics coordinator for Return to the Amazon, during which she led a small team 4,900 metres up into the Andes and negotiated access to an indigenous conference never before filmed by a foreign crew. She lives in New York City. "The romantic idea I had about the indigenous people living in the jungle was very different from the reality. And the reality was, the reason we didn’t go into the village of the Matis was because they gave us a long list of material things they wanted, such as a TV and a satellite dish, and I was shocked by that! My grandfather and his team were among the first to interact with them 25 years ago, and I wish I could tell him the Matis he met back then are drastically different than the Matis we met this time around."

Fabien CousteauFABIEN COUSTEAU, Logistics/Expedition Support
Third-generation ocean explorer, Fabien shares his father’s and grandfather’s love of ocean adventure and protection. Only four years old when he first scuba dived, Fabien has been exploring the aquatic depths and educating others about the global ocean ever since. His latest marine passion is the understanding and protection of sharks, producing a special, Mind of a Demon, which aired on CBS in June 2006. With a team of experts, Fabien built a four-metre, 545-kilogram shark-shaped submarine to enable him to swim among sharks without influencing their behaviour. Fabien played a key role in Return to the Amazon, interviewing experts, assisting in production, diving with the crew and leading a team to document the world’s most dangerous tidal bore. A graduate of Boston University in environmental economics, Fabien lives in New York City. "When you walk into the Amazon, you’re definitely not stealth, and the whole forest knows you’re there and quiets down. But if you sit there for a little bit and not move, the forest starts to get loud and animated again, and back to its boisterous self. And there are tons of sounds, from the haunting howl of the howler monkey, to the loud chirping of the birds to the constant buzzing of the insects. And you know that if all that stops, and it’ll stop abruptly, that something’s going on and you better look around."

LINE ABRAHAMIAN, Web Content
Line Abrahamian was that “rather panicky journalist” who crash landed into the waters of Rio Negro with Jean-Michel on their way to the Xixuaú-Xipariña Reserve, where she was to join the OFS team for an article for Reader’s Digest Canada. But after tasting a little bit of adventure—snorkelling in the Rio Jauaperí, possibly a mere snout’s distance from Luci the caiman; bunking with squeaking bats and a sharpnose boa (which turned out to be rubber, a wisenheimer’s idea of a joke); and confronting her fear of creepy crawlies thanks to Jean-Michel and Fabien who insisted on introducing her to anything with spindly long legs—she returned home, quit her 9 to 5 job, and is now co-authoring our book on our Amazon expedition. "Snorkelling for the first time ever and in the Amazon River to boot! Glad I didn’t know then that at that exact moment, four metres below where I was floating, Jean-Michel, Fabien and Céline were swimming with a caiman."

RICK CHELEW, Additional Sound
Rick Chelew, with over 20 years in the audio field, is sought after for his creativity, critical ear and attention to detail. He has recorded sound on location for ”Nature”,  National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel,  and for many years was the guy hiding microphones in strange places for Candid Camera on CBS. Rick is also a professional bass player and singer whose band  “The Cachagua Playboys” just released their second CD entitled “Surf Zydeco”. As a record producer he has worked in the studio with T Bone Burnett, Richard Thompson, The Pentangle, Jennifer Warnes and Albert Lee. “I loved the people and the food everywhere in Peru, whether in Lima, in Iquitos on the Amazon, or in Cusco in the Andes. Beautiful smiling faces, genuinely friendly people. I had the privilege of listening to some people speaking Quehua (or Keshwa), the language of the native Andean people. It has an earthy mystery and beauty that I’ll never forget. The worst part of the journey for me was coming down with altitude sickness after going from sea level to 17,000 feet elevation in 30 hours. I awoke in my little tent with extreme sense of claustrophobia. Even the gigantic star-filled sky seemed to be pushing down on me. It was sad to have to leave the crew and go back down on the day we were to go to the base of the great glacier, but for health reasons, I had no choice” 

Chuck DavisCHUCK DAVIS, Director of Photography
Chuck Davis has worked as a director of photography and/or camera operator on several IMAX and IMAX-DOME feature documentaries including the Academy Award-nominated Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, and the Academy Award-nominated The Living Sea. Davis worked as an underwater camera operator on the Warner Brothers feature film, Sphere, and his production experience includes work on C.L.I.O. award-winning commercials and CINE Golden Eagle award-winning documentaries. Davis has worked on films with both Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau for more than twenty years. "I will miss many wonderful friends we made along the journey. As anyone who films in remote exotic locations knows, to be effective in these faraway places, you need the help of local folks who really know the waters—the lay of the land, so to speak—and who can speak the language and act as liaison to bridge the differences between cultures. We were very fortunate to have the help of many local folks—scientists, naturalists, conservationists, interpreters, boat operators, local business operators and government officials—who, in many cases, went the extra distance for us to make our film a reality."

Matthew FerraroMATTHEW FERRARO, Director of Photography
Matt graduated from California State University Monterey Bay in 1999 with a degree in earth system sciences and policy. As an original expedition member for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s six-part Ocean Adventures PBS series, Matt’s duties have encompassed research, still photography, second unit camera operation, underwater lighting and marine operations. Currently he is staff cinematographer and in charge of diving operations for Ocean Futures Society. "I would've loved to have slept outside in hammocks when we had gone camping near Xixuaú Reserve. But once I saw how our guides were getting eaten alive by bugs at night—and they were locals!—I thought, My white butt is going to have a serious problem then, and went back to my tent."

Mark GerasimenkoMARK GERASIMENKO, Camera Operator - First Unit
Gerasimenko, with over fifteen years experience in the film industry, is a director of photography and cameraman. With vast experience in both film and high definition video, he has worked on feature films, series television, commercials, and documentaries.  Gerasimenko’s technical specialties include steadicam operator, helicopter aerials, and underwater filming.  For the past four years, Gerasimenko has been working with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s team as well as National Geographic, Discovery, the BBC and major networks, which has kept him filming everything from killer whales and sharks to jungles and volcanoes.  Gerasimenko resides in Hawaii and when not filming is either diving deep or flying high as a paraglider pilot. "What I’ll miss the most is the adventure of it, never knowing what was round every bend. Every day, every minute was exciting and different. What I’ll miss the least is the humid, sticky heat."

Zim GerviasZIM JEROME GERVAIS II, Marine Operations
Zim says the spirit of adventure runs in his blood as a direct descendent of Chief Coboway of the Clatsop Tribe in Oregon, and Zim identifies strongly with his Native American heritage.  As a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, graduate of Santa Barbara City College’s Marine Technology Program, and a diving professional with over 15 years experience, Zim’s focus is on marine operations. He is a trained Inspiration rebreather diver, a Certified Nitrox Diver/ Blender and Certified HAZMAT Instructor. Zim holds a medical certification from the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Technology and is a California Emergency Medial Technician. "My Favorite animal encounter was swimming with pink river dolphins at the Ariaú Amazon Towers. A local guide, Holly and I got into the water, made these little snapping sounds with our fingers and all around us, these pink dolphins appeared. In the beginning it was almost unnerving—they were very friendly and would swim through your legs, bump into you, and you couldn’t see them because the water was almost black, but you could feel them around your feet. They felt spongy and mushy, like a giant olive bouncing around you. We swam with them for 20 minutes, and it was unreal!"

Gary HollandGARY HOLLAND, Sound Engineer
Audio engineer for Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau since 1983, Gary has more than 30 years of professional sound and music recording expertise from television and feature film work under his belt. During his stint with Captain Cousteau, Gary developed a technique for capturing underwater hydrophone recordings in true stereo. Cornell University still uses his orca recordings from this time as the definitive hydrophone stereo recordings of this genre. Gary has worked on feature films, such as Ghost and Jerry Maguire, as well as television series, including The X Files and The West Wing. He also produced the CD Wavesliders, featuring world-renowned surfers, which includes the song “Cool Water,” the theme song for the non-profit environmental organization Surfrider Foundation. A native of New Orleans, Gary lives with his wife, Katie, and two of his three daughters in Southern California. "I was surprised to learn just how old and acidic the earth is throughout the Amazon. It’s just the opposite of what I assumed, that the soil that supports these massive trees and the thriving forest would be extremely rich and fertile given all the flora and fauna. What a discovery! So once de-forested for farming or cattle, this ancient soil can only support a crop—for example, soy—for so long! It becomes totally depleted of its nutrients in as little as ten years, and then what you have is an island in the forest that is unable to sustain much of anything by that point—a dead zone in the middle of a vibrant rainforest. It’s vital to get this message out—that as the Amazon rainforest goes, so will our planet. If the planet is a living organism, the Amazon is its lungs, and every deforested splotch of land is like a splotch of cancer in those lungs. So we must take care of the jungle in the right way. In fact, we should just leave it alone."

YVES LEFEVRE, Additional Camera Operator
Yves has been apart of the Ocean Adventures Expedition team since 2002, working on "Sharks at Risk", "Voyage to Kure", "America's Underwater Treasures" and "Return to the Amazon". Yves is also the author and co-author of: "Rangiroa Sous le Signe du Poisson", "Petite Baleine", "French Polynesia Fishes Guide", "Faune Marine Dangereuse d'Oceanie". He also works FOR the protection of the Malpelo National Park in Colombia. He has spent more than 10000 hours underwater. "The best and most challenging time was when we had to transport cameras, rebreathers and all our dive gear through a village, across a muddy cow pasture and then climb a hill to finally reach our dive site: a small river, less than five feet deep but filled with beautiful little fishes.  It was worth the trek as Matt Ferraro and I stayed submerged for over three hours, two days in a row."

Holly LohuisHOLLY S. LOHUIS, EDUCATION/RESEARCH ASSOCIATE; FIELD PRODUCER
Holly is a marine biologist with a degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and has been diving around the world with Jean-Michel Cousteau for over a decade. Holly is apart of the expedition team, serving as a key liaison between the expedition team and scientists and is responsible for confirming the factual accuracy of the content of Ocean Futures Society documentaries. Also a marine educator, Holly has educated thousands of children and adults about the wonders and fragility of the marine environment and the importance to protect them for future generations. Overlooking the Pacific, Holly and her 4 year old son, make their home in Summerland California. "I swam with pink river dolphins at Ariaú Amazon Towers. I’m familiar with different dolphin species, but these dolphins look so different! And they have these beady little eyes and this bulbous melon or forehead which is used to produce sound waves. When these waves echo back from an object, the dolphin can tell many things about the object and the surrounding environment. Because of the limited visibility it was hard to see them at a distance. Even when underwater with them, I was not able to see them until they were right next to me. The locals feed the dolphins we swam with, so they are used to people being in the water with them, but I still was intimated at first because they are wild animals with very sharp teeth and can indeed bite people.  But even with no free handouts to feed them, the dolphins still swam close, bumping right into me.  It was an experience I will never forget!"

KATIE MANN, Primate Biologist
Katie Mann holds a BS in Zoology from the University of Maine (2002) and a MSc in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the UK (2005). Katie lives and works in southwest Costa Rica developing a primate conservation initiative called "Amigos de los Monos," which she has developed in association with the US non-profit organization Community Conservation, Inc.  She served as the primate specialist for the "Return to the Amazon" filming expedition in Brazil.  This was her first involvement with the Ocean Future's Society. "For me it was an absolute privilege to participate in the filming of "Return to the Amazon." I was constantly impressed with the attitude and work ethic of the X-Team.  It was an honor to work so closely with such a talented group of people who are the cream-of-the-crop in their competitive field of underwater and nature filming."

Jai ManssonJAI MANSSON, Assistant Camera Operator
Resident of Hawaii, fanatic of film. Mansson has been working in Hawaii and abroad on movies, TV shows, commercials and, yes, documentaries, for years. His first job in 1992 was chasing a single Hawaiian honeycreeper bird named the akiapula'au around Mauna Kea at 9,000 feet for three weeks, living out of a tent. It has pretty much ruined him for any sort of “normal” work. “It is a pity that no one ever went to the Amazon to make a movie in three strip Cinemascope. I think it is the only place I have ever been that would look best in that super-widescreen presentation. The epic width of the turbid river, the endless lost worlds of the jungle, the sulking sunsets with city-sized thunderstorms scattered into the deep distance, all seem made for nothing save the broadest artistic canvas. I left, knowing we had exhausted ourselves trying to capture the essence of the place, yet knowing well that our efforts were but a bit of flotsam lost amongst the whorls of an unstoppable, unmoved river.”

Nancy MarrNANCY MARR, Expedition Support and OFS International Advisory Board Member
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Nancy Marr, is instilled with a love for nature; hiking, camping, swimming, & skiing are natural basics living by the Puget Sound, surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, the Olympics, Cascades, & Mt. Rainier. An aspiring artist she studied art & then made a career representing artists in galleries in Hawaii.  Living in Hawaii for 22 years she met & learned to dive side by side with Jean-Michel Cousteau.  She is an eclectic collector of native arts & crafts worldwide & antiquarian maps.  Living together in Santa Barbara, California with Jean-Michel Cousteau, she helped found Ocean Futures Society & continues fundraising and working behind the scenes.  She’s a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, organic gardener, holistic seeker, & entrepreneur.  She actively supports peaceful enterprises and global healthcare & education for woman and children. "I will miss cruising the Mighty Amazon River, day after day from, Iquitos, Peru passing through 3 countries, Leticia, Columbia; Santa Rosa, Peru; and Tabatinga, Brazil; 3 bustling cities sprawled into each other. “The River” is an immense highway moving people, products, industry, opportunities & dreams."

Jeffrey MoraJEFFREY MORA, Expedition Chef and OFS International Advisory Board Member
Jeffery Mora is the Corporate Chef and owner of Metropolitan Culinary Services Inc, chef for the Los Angeles Lakers and devoted Environmentalist. His colorful and extensive career began more than 20 years ago at the Century Plaza Hotel under Master Chef Raimund Hofmeister. Since that time, he has worked as a chef in more than 20 countries, served as a member of the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team in 1992 and 1996, and managed several successful culinary ventures. His distinction as a Chef is in the development of unique menus featuring sustainable meats, seafood, and produce. Jeffery serves as and International advisory member of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, and sits on the board of The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Earth Communications Office. "What I will miss most about the Amazon are the Sunsets, after cooking all day in the 130 degree kitchen. To be able to go on deck for a few peaceful moments with the team before dinner and watch the amazing show in the sky unfold minute by minute was wonderful, and to be able to repeat it every night made it all the more amazing."

Blair MottBLAIR MOTT, Chief Diver
As Ocean Futures Society’s chief diver, Blair’s expert skills have enabled him to lead and supervise diving teams in 45 countries in a vast array of conditions, in environments as remote and unforgiving as the polar regions and the Amazon. He is responsible for training the expedition team in advanced diving techniques, and helps to design, test and maintain a wide variety of critical marine operations equipment. A graduate of Santa Barbara City College’s world-renowned Marine Diving Technologies Program, Blair has logged thousands of hours underwater, including time spent working on the Keiko Project in Iceland. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife Aime. "Life is too short, and there’s a lot out there to see and do, so don’t let it pass you by.” A 300-foot tree almost fell down on my head. I dived with poisonous snakes. I swam next to caimans. It was dangerous down there, and not that you didn’t care, but your “I’ve dived 10,000 times before this” attitude goes away and it intensifies your experience, like “Wow, I’ve never experienced this before.” "

Dr. Richard MurphyRICHARD MURPHY, Ph.D, DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION
A PhD in marine ecology from the University of Southern California, Murphy began working with Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau in 1968 and has been involved in projects and expeditions around the globe, including Papua New Guinea, the Fiji Islands, the Caribbean, Indonesia, the Mekong River, the Amazon, the Sea of Cortez, Australia and New Zealand. He has served as chief scientist, photographer, writer, educator and project director, and has created many educational programs for young people in developed and developing countries. His book Coral Reefs: Cities Under the Sea offers a unique and fascinating look at how coral reefs function and what lessons they can teach us in making our own communities more sustainable. "One of the big wows for me that I hadn’t had the luxury of experiencing last time was being able to dive in relatively clear water and see lots of different species of fish. Every time I go underwater in a new region, I ask the local people, “What do I have to look out for?” So, of course, my first question here was, “What’s the issue with piranhas and caimans?” The locals said, “No, no, don’t worry about that.” And I said, “Is there anything I do need to worry about?” They said, “Yes, watch out for the sting rays.” That was so interesting—there were so many different species of sting rays, creatures we associate with the ocean and which had now adapted to living in the Amazon. And they were beautiful!"

SHERRE NELSON, Logistics/Translator
Sherre Nelson has lived and worked in tourism in the Brazilian Amazon since 1980 and most recently as a U.S. Consular Agent.  Although mostly behind the scenes, her experience contributed to the making of the documentary.  "In the past twenty five years the Amazon region has changed in many aspects. It has modernized, urbanized and globalized although maintaining a distinctive character.  More protected areas have been created, roads have been built and paved and the cities have grown in population.  Hydroelectric Dams completed, many mining operations have shut down, while other new economic opportunities have been created.  The Amazon region is and will continue to be a fascinating and dynamic region."

LIVIA RIZZI RAZENTE, Translator
Lívia Rizzi Razente was born in South Brazil and moved to São Paulo, Brazil to study business administration.  Lívia graduated in July 2008!  She is currently working as an assistant fund raiser at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) in São Paulo. Before going on expedition to Amazon with the Cousteau team she was studying Art History in Florence, Italy. Lívia says, “it was great to see that science and art have a lot in common: both are born of the observation and investigation of nature”. “One of the hardest challenges for me in the documentary was to deal with the different cultures  and transform the scientific and administration words and terms into popular language.”

PLINIO RIBEIRO, Research, Logistics & Translator
Plínio Ribeiro is Brazilian and moved to Manaus in the beginning of 2006 to work with economic alternatives for protected areas in the lower Rio Negro region within the Institute for Ecological Research (IPÊ) and Amazonas’ state Environmental Agency (SDS). He is now a student at Columbia University in New York, and is finishing his MPA in Environmental Science and Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs and The Earth Institute. During the filming of Return to the Amazon he was responsible for research, logistics of the expeditions and translation. "What I’ll miss the most about the Amazon is the wilderness, traveling by boat for many days, hardly seeing anyone, and when we did see people, they were very friendly. And lying in a hammock and watching the sunset on the horizon."

Don SanteeDON SANTEE, DIRECTOR OF EXPEDITIONS
Santee has worked side by side with both Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jacques Cousteau for over three decades. Assuming diverse duties as expedition leader and production manager, he coordinates everything from diving expeditions to film logistics. An underwater photographer for books and magazines, he has also worked on over 26 television documentaries. In addition to acting as the team's medical officer, Santee is also responsible for training the Ocean Futures team on advanced technical dive procedures and working with state-of-the-art closed circuit rebreathers. Santee makes his home in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife Hilary and son Edward. “When we were in the Amazon with Jacques Cousteau in the early ’80s, we could move around freely up and down the water systems and in and out the jungles. This time it seemed much more regulated and controlled—if we were going to set foot on land, we had to have one type of guide; and if we were going to stay on water, we needed another type. The locals see the need for this to protect the reserves. It kind of tied our hands a bit, but in my mind, I thought that was great because that meant they were trying to protect something that they saw great value in.” 

medium_Dr.-Mary_Louise-Scully.pngDR. MARY LOUISE SCULLY, EXPEDITION DOCTOR
Mary-Louise Scully M.D. is Board Certified in Internal Medicine as well as Infectious Diseases and holds a Certificate of Knowledge in Tropical Medicine. Dr. Scully completed her undergraduate studies at Smith College and did her post graduate training at Yale University where she did both her Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Disease fellowship. In Connecticut she ran her own clinical practice and also worked in the Yale University International Health and Travel Clinic for eight years before relocating in 2002 to California. Since 2001, she has been an Associate Editor for the journal, Travel Medicine Advisor Update. At present, she works at the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, CA as an Infectious Diseases consultant and is the Director of the Sansum Clinic’s Travel and Tropical Medicine Center. She is also actively involved as a Board member for the Chad Relief Foundation, a UCSB and Santa Barbara volunteer organization, dedicated to improving the conditions of refugees in southern Chad. "It seems impossible to identify only one moment on what to me was an amazing adventure. An adventure I feel so lucky to even have been a part of. But one memorable moment would have to be my “swim” in the Amazon. The film crew and almost everyone else had left the Ariau Açu in the zodiacs and we were tied up to a tree. It was really warm with no real breeze and Nan Marr decided to take a dip off the back deck to cool off. With my line of work I could think of a lot of reasons why one would not want to swim in the Amazon i.e. piranhas, caimans, and those “special” fish that enter “special” places. But it was very hot and I didn’t want to look like a “wimp” compared to Nan so I joined with Nan and Tim Trabon Jr in a fairly brief but memorable swim in the Amazon. So far, one year later, there is no evidence any parasites joined me during my swim either!"

medium_Pamela-Stacey.pngPAMELA STACEY, CO-PRODUCER/WRITER
Pamela Stacey is an Emmy-nominated writer for a variety of film projects, including work as producer and writer of a one-hour ABC network special on dolphins, writer and producer of films for Ocean Futures Society/PBS productions, Cousteau Society/Turner Broadcasting, and IMAX feature films. Pam served as chief editor for the Cousteau Society’s Dolphin Log magazine for children and is an author/editor of books about water, coral reefs and ocean protection. Ms. Stacey has written and co-written several episodes of the Ocean Adventures series including The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, Sharks at Risk, America’s Underwater Treasures, and Return to the Amazon. She resides in Southern California.

Byron ThompsonBYRON THOMPSON, CO-PRODUCER/CREATIVE DIRECTOR/EDITOR
Creative Director and Editor for the Ocean Adventures series, Thompson is also a writer, producer, and director of feature films and television programs. His editing credits for Ocean Adventures include Return to the Amazon, Voyage to Kure and Sharks at Risk, as well as co-editing The Gray Whale Obstacle Course and America's Underwater Treasures. His other projects have included the features Warrior Angels, with Golden Globe winner Rutger Hauer (2002, director and screenplay), and Stonebrook, with teen choice nominee Seth Green (1998, director and producer). "It may be very on the nose, but the best way to describe the experience of editing Return to the Amazon is “not being able to see the forest for the trees.” Yes, I was lost, deeply lost, in the forest many months working with story after story with no idea how they would all fit together. As the 200+ hours of footage came to me in stages, I would use the field notes and logs to take the linear journey with the team, keeping track of their expedition with maps as they ping-ponged all over the region. I knew early on that portions of the true sequence of events would probably remain intact, but on the whole, the show would be a complex puzzle of issues that needed to flow into each other to tell a progressive story and, in the end, make a stance on the state of the Amazon today. I’ll say two things honestly: one, there were days I deeply loathed the Amazon; and two, had this been the first episode I edited, I probably would have quit. With it now behind me, I think it is the best work of my career."

Carrie VonderhaarCARRIE VONDERHAAR, EXPEDITION PHOTOGRAPHER
As staff still photographer for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures PBS series, Carrie was the first woman to dive Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary on a closed-circuit rebreather and to work with Jean-Michel as both a topside and underwater camera operator. She is also the only expedition member to travel the entire length of the Amazon from the Andes to the Atlantic for Return to the Amazon. Her degrees in French, political science and fine arts from Wittenberg University in Ohio and advanced studies at the Université Rennes 2 in France led to studies at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. Carrie was the photographer and photo editor for Jean-Michel’s award-winning, limited-edition book America’s Underwater Treasures, and her images have been published in DIVER, Worth, Sublime, Santa Barbara Magazine, Outside, Men’s Journal, Outdoor Enthusiast, Reader’s Digest, SAVEUR and Discover, as well as various international magazines.