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Voyage to Kure: Expedition Diaries

<< Expedition Diaries | About the Islands

Final Thoughts

The Ocean Futures Society film expedition team for Voyage to Kure pose together for an official photograph aboard the Searcher. First row from left, front to back: Mike Westgate, Antoine Rosset, Mark Gerasimenko, Ed Cassano; Second row from left: Tove Petterson, Paul Atkins, Ronda Friend; Center: The Littenbergs/Searcher crew: Dr. Richard Littenberg, John Jr. and Erik; Second row from right: Tom Ordway, Holly Lohuis, Nan Marr, Don Santee; Right row: Blair Mott, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Yves Lefevre, Matt Ferraro Photo. credit: Tom Ordway
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What did this expedition mean to you?

Blair Mott, Chief Diver:

A new hope and a new beginning!

Mark Gerasimenko, High Definition Technician and Assistant Cameraman:

A lot of hard work, beautiful backdrop!

Matt Ferraro, Expedition Team, Marine Operations:

This expedition is the first step of a life I have always dreamed about, a life dedicated to protecting the ocean that I love, with a group of people committed to the same goal.

Holly Lohuis, Expedition Team, Education Associate:

There are reasons for hope! We have all been devastated by the hundreds of tons of marine debris, including the horrid sight of plastics inside the guts of dead albatross chicks; but I feel this type of film is just what the public needs to see to reemphasize the delicate balance of our Mother Earth. We are all a part of the web of life; the connections between our everyday choices can have profound impact on even the most remote island chain in the world, the NWHI. What an honor to be with Jean-Michel and a highly dedicated team who all have the strong desire to see this film make a long-lasting impression. ... These islands do not have to be restored like so many marine ecosystems around the world. But instead, the health and abundance we were so fortunate to see on all our dives need to be protected forever!

Yves Lefevre, Underwater Cameraman:

I was very happy to dive at a very remote place that few people know. The thrill to see species I have never seen before and to swim with a seal on a coral reef is incredible and all new for me. I just wish we had more time at each of the islands. I knew we were going to see pollution. I had read about it, but I never expected it to be so bad. The tons and tons of plastic on the islands were shocking, especially to see the bird carcasses with only plastic left in their stomachs. But, overall I am so happy with our experience of these magnificent islands.

Paul Atkins, Director of Photography:

First, this was an unparalleled opportunity to explore the far reaches of the NWHI, a place I have called home for almost 30 years. But I have only been as far as Laysan, and never to Kure. Also, doing this to support Jean-Michel's legacy has meant a lot to me. We all know that what we are doing professionally is because of his family, and I have Jean-Michel to thank for the wonderful opportunity of being a part of this project.

Mike Westgate, Sound Engineer:

For me, developing a greater insight into seabird life, because what I had to do was identify birds and their calls to be able to capture good recordings.

Tom Ordway Expedition Team, Still Photographer:

For me, it is a great feeling to get back into the field on an expedition to capture stills of the marine life and seabirds. The joy of being on expedition with my colleagues from the Santa Barbara office, old friends from previous expeditions, and the new friends made will remain a part of my heart for all time. This journey to the NWHI has been exciting, yet saddening. Photographing the dead albatross chicks on Laysan Island, with the plastic cigarette lighters, bottle tops and other plastics in their guts, was very disturbing. I know I will do more when I get home to help alleviate the amount of plastics thrown away, by RECYCLING everything!!!

Tove Petterson, Expedition Team, Marine Operations:

The expedition has in more ways than one become a turning point in my life. I have made a conscious decision to channel my energy and work toward making a sustainable life on Earth for all. I will think long and hard before buying any plastics, and each time I do, memories of dead albatrosses with chest cavities full of plastic will sadden me tremendously.

Ronda Friend, Chef:

Sitting on the bow yesterday, watching the Pacific flow by and listening to "Living on the Edge" by AeroSmith, I contemplated how this expedition has changed me personally. We, the human race, are truly living on the edge, on the edge of destroying the world's oceans and seas. I know that what I have been able to see from this small boat in this large ocean is just a sampling of what is happening out of sight, under the waves, all the time. How much damage do we not see? How much more can we learn? I come away from this experience with an even deeper respect for our fragile ocean environment and a greater respect for the work Jean-Michel’s organization, Ocean Futures Society, is doing to protect it.

Ed Cassano, Vice President, Exploration & Expeditions:

When I was 9 and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "A marine biologist." I wanted to learn how to dive and study life in the ocean. I never changed my mind. This voyage to Kure was different for me than for others in the expedition in that I saw the work and the efforts and goals through the eyes of my daughter. It is for her and for the future that we cannot fail to raise the awareness of the world community to do a much better job in taking care of Planet Ocean. She expects it of me, and I am humbled by that level of responsibility. I know that we stand a chance to make a difference because of the vision and leadership of Jean-Michel. It is his legacy to carry forward the need to protect the world's oceans. I am happy and humbled, along with the entire team, to help him with this mission.

From Jean-Michel Cousteau's Expedition Log:

... The statistics themselves tell an important part of the story. We landed on seven different islands throughout this vast archipelago. Our team made 269 dives, including 17,208 minutes underwater. That translates into 287 hours of filming beneath the surface, or one diver underwater 12 days around the clock.

Only the technology we have today allowed us to make this documentary in five weeks. These are wonders of design and technical skill that my father could have only dreamed of when I was a child ...

... When we embarked on this expedition, our native Polynesian friends described to us the ancient wisdom of malama -- a caring for our land and sea to ensure a balance among all forms of life. What we saw and filmed over five weeks showed that balance to be threatened, but unbowed. Now, the outcome belongs to all of us and our collective will to protect one of the most remote and beautiful places on Earth.

Read the complete log entries from the expedition at the Ocean Futures Society Web site. (at oceanfutures.org)