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Meet the Expedition Team
Holly Lohuis, Expedition Team Member, Marine Biologist and Education Associate
Ocean Futures Society Education Associate and expedition team member Holly Lohuis is a marine biologist and naturalist with expertise in coral reefs and the specific ecology of California's Channel Islands. With a degree in marine biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Holly has educated thousands of children and adults about the wonders of the marine world and the need to protect them. Holly has been a part of Jean-Michel Cousteau's team for more than a decade. Her work has included traveling on cruise ships while conducting interactive live-dive underwater broadcasts from remote regions of the world and working as the resident marine biologist at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort. Currently Holly serves as a key liaison between the Ocean Adventures expedition team and scientists at each film location and appears on camera in the film series. Her travels have taken her to the cold waters of Alaska, to the clear waters of the South Pacific, the pristine reefs of the Indian Ocean and most recently, to our own treasures found in U.S. marine sanctuaries.
Interview with Holly Lohuis
What are your favorite things about diving?
My favorite things are diving different places and learning all about the local marine life. Also, being in the water is almost meditative for me, especially those warm water dives with 100 plus feet of visibility. I love watching all marine life, whether it's small invertebrate life or some of the big giants - including the big fish like 300-lb groupers. One of my favorite encounters is with sharks, some of the most misunderstood animals in the ocean. Diving gives me the understanding and appreciation for our connection and dependence on a healthy marine environment. Just as fulfilling is that at the end of every dive, there's always something to look up in reference books and always a new experience to share with your dive buddies.
It's a big difference; both are very fun but two very different experiences. When diving for the camera, I am aware that I am working. I have to predict what the cameraperson might want me to do, instead of being free to make my own observations on the marine life around me. Sometimes the dive teams are small, only three of us in the water. Other times there are 10 divers in the water, all trying to orchestrate a certain shot. That gets a little challenging but we always come up with funny stories at the end of the dive. I thoroughly enjoy being Jean-Michel's dive buddy. His life-long love of exploring the ocean realm radiates to all team members above and below the water.
I think the main obstacle is the fact that the career of marine biology has grown in popularity over the past couple of decades and has become extremely competitive. Many people study marine biology in college only to find very few jobs available after graduation.
For me, once I graduated from college I went right out into the field and worked as a naturalist and diver. By being immersed in the marine environment on a daily basis, I learned more about the local ecology than I ever did from a textbook. As a marine educator I found the enjoyment of sharing marine facts with the public and soon learned the need to also share the important conservation message that the oceans are suffering at the hands of people and we have the power to do something about it.
Another major obstacle to this type of career is the fact that most marine biologist positions are not as well paying as other types of science occupations. But what I have learned to appreciate, especially from the travels that I've experienced, is the importance of living a simple life and the fact that we do not need to surround ourselves with wealth and material things to be happy. I feel I have found a career that is fulfilling, educational and rewarding all at the same time and I feel very fortunate.
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