25 August 2005

Cousteau, Ocean Futures' begin odyssey to marine sanctuaries

Nearly 250 feet below the waves, oceanauts with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society have begun exploring and filming the wreck of the Civil War warship U.S.S. Monitor off this North Carolina coast in the first chapter of their saga of America's national marine sanctuaries as part of a new PBS series to debut in 2006...

The Monitor rests at the bottom of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, one of the 13 marine sanctuaries throughout the mainland of the United States, Hawaii and American Samoa. Cousteau and his Ocean Futures team are filming these federally-designated places, many of them rarely visited and unknown to Americans and the world, as part of a two-hour special, "America's Underwater Treasures."

The feature will be one of several exciting and insightful documentaries in "Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures," a six-part HDTV series co-produced by PBS affiliate KQED-TV in San Francisco. "America's marine sanctuaries are great national treasures equal to this country’s magnificent national parks system that people know so well," Cousteau said.

"The difference is that few people can even name the marine sanctuaries, let alone know anything about them. Many people believe marine sanctuaries are places you can't go or can't fish, and neither is true. Our goal is to make these special places real for viewers everywhere."

Over the next six months, Cousteau and the Ocean Futures team will explore the remaining national marine sanctuaries, including: Stellwagen Bank (Massachusetts); Florida Keys (Florida); Flower Garden Banks (Texas/Louisiana); Gray’s Reef (Georgia); Thunder Bay (Michigan); Olympic Coast (Washington); Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands (California); Hawaii Humpback (Hawaii); and Fagatele Bay (American Samoa). At each sanctuary, the oceanauts will feature the work of individuals committed to research, resource management, education and protection of these incredible habitats.

"In the course of our discovery, we will do deep dives in underwater canyons, survey ocean-floor volcanoes, explore a coral-rich ecosystem around an oil rig, examine mangrove lagoons, and study the ragged remains of shipwrecks," Cousteau said. "This will not only be visually stunning, but a real sensory experience that will take the explorer in everyone on an adventure."

Consistent with his family's legacy of exploration and conservation, "Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures" series will share with television viewers the largely inaccessible, dangerous and spectacular locales around the globe, and the myriad of species found there. It will also highlight challenges for humans as we better understand our "water planet" and many of the threats the ocean faces.

The remaining four hours of the series, which have already been filmed and is in post-production, are: "Voyage to Kure" (two hours), a quest along the remote, 1,200-mile Northwestern Hawaiian Island archipelago that discovers diverse wildlife populations above and below the sea as well as species' fight against the devastating effects of pollution, mining and fishing; "The Gray Whale Obstacle Course," following the ancient migration of gray whales from Baja California to the Artic Circle and the dangers these animals face; and "Sharks At Risk," a new look at this much-feared symbol from gray sharks to great whites and humans' tragic impact on the species.

Source: www.divenews.com


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