British Columbia

Expeditions:British Columbia Expedition Team

British Columbia Expedition Team and Scientists

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.

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.

large_Celine-Cousteau.pngCÉLINE COUSTEAU, TEAM MEMBER
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.

large_Fabien-Cousteau.pngFABIEN COUSTEAU, TEAM MEMBER
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.

Kenneth C. Balcomb, III started Orca Survey in 1976. He has been the Executive Director and Research Biologist for the Center for Whale Research since 1985. He is also a Charter Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, a member of the IUCN/SSC Whale Specialist Group, and an invited specialist on the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. He has extensive field experience at sea and is an accomplished wildlife photographer.

Aron came to Ocean Futures Society from the rainy, verdant region to the north. An experienced surfer and sailor, Aron has spent much of his life on or in the ocean. As an instructor on traditional sailing vessels on waters through the Pacific Northwest, the Channel Islands, the Caribbean and the eastern Seaboard, Aron learned much about life on the sea and even discovered opportunities to swing a hammer below the surface. Aron’s most vivid ocean moment occurred in a midnight storm while sailing north of the Bahamas, when a jib tackline blew and required hands on the headrig to grapple the loose-whipping canvas. With seas pitching the bow in excess of 25 feet, Aron recalls being dunked up to the chest before rising again out of the water two to three stories high; “Those are the moments that make you feel alive...and thank God for safety harnesses!” Aron’s background includes an eclectic mix of green building immersion, marine sciences, anthropology and biology studies. When not in the field coordinating film expedition shoots or in the office suggesting green building products for new construction projects, you might find him playing on the other side of the water cycle, i.e. skiing in the Sierras or the Cascades.

medium_Mike-Braniger.pngMIKE BRANIGER
Braniger graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1985 with a degree in commercial photography. Mike has worked in the commercial television industry for over twenty years as a freelance Production coordinator, DP/cameraman, Gaffer, and EFP soundman.

“From the year 2001 at age 11, until 2007, when I turned 18 and graduated from the program, I worked on a naval ship called the Pride Of Michigan as a U.S. Naval Sea Cadet. I spent every summer training on board out in the Great Lakes, learning all I could about being on the water. While working on the ship, I learned to dive and had the opportunity to do many interesting projects. One was to work with the Ocean Futures dive team on the filming of the Thunder Bay portion of the PBS TV documentary called Americas Underwater Treasures. After that experience, I was offered a job working at OFS. Upon graduation from high school in 2007, I moved out to California to pursue my dreams and career as a diver.”

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.

Dr. John Ford joined Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 2001 as the head of the Cetacean Research Program at the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Zoology and the Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia.
John has been involved in field studies on cetaceans in western Canadian waters since 1977. His areas of research include the life history, ecology, behaviour and acoustic communication of cetaceans, especially killer whales. In recent years, his research has focused on the conservation status of cetaceans listed under Canada's Species-at-Risk Act and has involved population abundance estimation and development of acoustic tools for determining seasonal abundance of cetaceans in remote offshore waters.

“I spent a lot of time at the beach when I was growing up. My family would vacation at the shore and I would spend my summers playing in the sand and waves with my brothers. I believe this fostered in me a deep appreciation and wonder for the ocean and all that it holds. I have always been captivated by the unknown mystery, and romanticism of the sea. Growing up I knew that my life would be connected to the sea in some way, so I studied marine biology in college and after graduating I worked in the field for several years researching whales. I soon became more interested in conveying to the public the message that the science was discovering through the beauty of photography and documentary films and what better way to work toward that goal than to work with Jean-Michel Cousteau.”
Since joining the Ocean Futures team Brian has worked as a production assistant on “America’s Underwater Treasures”, “Return to the Amazon”, “Sea Ghosts”, and “Call of the Killer Whale” as well as performing assistant camera duties and 2nd camera filming for “Call of the Killer Whale”.

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.

Editor and cameraman Jim Knowlton has helped create films for Ocean Futures Society since 1999. In addition to working as Post Production Supervisor on the Ocean Adventures series, his credits include editor and associate producer on Sea Ghosts, cameraman and associate producer on The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, co-editor and associate producer on America’s Underwater Treasures, and associate producer on Sharks at Risk. Knowlton previously worked on shark documentaries for the Discovery Channel, including Sharks of the Deep Blue (underwater cameraman and editor), Sharks in a Desert Sea and Sharks of the Atlantic (underwater cameraman).

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.

Alexandra Morton is a biologist who found her way from Connecticut to a remote archipelago on the coast of British Columbia following her interest and one family of killer whales. Alexandra has spent 26 years in this wilderness and found it was not enough to simply study they whales, she had to try and keep their piece of the world alive. All field biologists are in this position today and it is clear to them all that this is about our world and what state we would like our home planet to be in. Alexandra is currently going head to head with some of the largest marine agricultural corporations in the world. The outcome remains to be seen!

Alex on the importance of studying orca:
"I think people need to realize that we're not just talking about save the whales. We're talking about save us. And to do that we need everything around us. For a long time it stumped me. People would go: why do we need the whales? Why do WE need the whales? And you know in truth why do I need my earlobe? You know. Why do I need any specific part of my body? Because it is part of the whole. And you can live without parts but it is a degraded existence because it is all knitted together."

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.

Peter S. Ross is a marine mammal toxicologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada. He has been carrying out research on environmental contaminants in marine mammals for 20 years. He holds Adjunct Professorships at Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria. He obtained his PhD from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands (1995), his MSc from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1990), and his BSc (Honours) from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario (1985). He has published over 95 international scientific articles and book chapters. Dr Ross is an international authority on the effects of persistent organic pollutants on the health of marine mammals. He has provided advice to conservation teams on several endangered marine mammals, including the Mediterranean monk seal, the northern right whale, California sea otters, Galapagos sea lions, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, and NE Pacific killer whales. Dr. Ross gives numerous public lectures to audiences around the world, and his work has been featured in local, national and international newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

Peter on the importance of studying orca:
"Industrial chemicals are magnifying up the food web, reaching often very high levels in fish eating or marine mammal eating organisms. In these areas, in these species, we see population level consequences. We see reduced reproduction. We see increased mortality. We see increased incidences of diseases. And in putting together the collective results of these multiple lines of research, we can start to understand what chemicals such as PCBs or PBDEs might be doing to animals at the top of the food chain, like the killer whale. And of course we share the environment with marine mammals. If a marine mammal is heavily contaminated with industrial chemicals, that’s starting to tell me something is amiss with our environment. It means our activities are impacting on the health of the ocean and it’s not good for the marine mammal in question, it’s not good for the environment, and it’s not good for the humans who rely on those same food webs."

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.

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.

Dr. Paul Spong is a neuroscientist and cetologist from New Zealand. He has spent more than 30 years researching orcas (or Killer whales) in British Columbia, and is credited with increasing public awareness of whaling, through his involvement with Greenpeace. In 1970, Dr. Paul Spong founded OrcaLab, a small land based whale research station nestled against the evergreen forest of Hanson Island in the waters of the "Inside Passage" of northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The work of OrcaLab is centered around the philosophy that it is possible to study wild animals without interfering with their lives or habitat.

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.

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).

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.