Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Expedition Team Bios
Diving Technology
Underwater HD Filming


Meet the Expedition Team

Zim Jerome Gervais II, Marine Operations

Zim Gervais
Photo credit: Carrie Vonderhaar

Zim Gervais is happiest when he's traveling the world, exploring new and exotic places. He says the spirit of adventure runs in his blood and that he inherited the "explorer gene." He strongly identifies with his Native American heritage, and follows in the footsteps of his Cherokee and Pacific Northwest ancestors. Zim is a direct descendent of Chief Coboway of Oregon's Clatsop Tribe.

Professionally, Zim focuses on marine operations for the Cousteau team, drawing on his past experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps, at Santa Barbara City College's elite Marine Technology Program and during 15 years of commercial and recreational diving. He is a skilled scuba repair technician certified by four different dive equipment manufacturers. Plus, he's trained as a rebreather diver, a nitrox gas blender and diver, and a HAZMAT instructor.

Zim is best known among the Cousteau team for his service as a safety diver and primary medic. Certified by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Technology and as an Emergency Medical Technician, Zim's medical experience is an invaluable asset. His colleagues have peace of mind knowing that should a problem occur, their care is in Zim's competent hands.

Zim says, "As a member of Jean-Michel's team, I have the privilege of continuing the adventure of life, to dive and explore nature and all it has to offer. I know I was born for the life I lead. I am the luckiest man alive to be doing what I do, and sharing this grand experience with incredible people that share my passion for the ocean."

Interview with Zim Gervais

What made you want to become a professional diver?

I grew up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and down in Laguna Beach, and I traveled to Hawaii and Tahiti when I was young. I did a lot of snorkeling. The adventure bug was transmitted through watching Jacques Cousteau's shows on Sunday night as a kid. I remember watching an episode about great white sharks. Actually, the draw wasn't the subject, it was the ambience - the allure of adventure and exploration was captivating.

My specific interest is rebreather diving - I enjoy being underwater making no sound, no bubbles, and being underwater for long periods of time. I've worked as a commercial diver and instructor for many years and just received my certification in rebreather diving. This now puts me a whole new elite technical diving arena. Now I can get close to marine life and stay under longer.

Of all the places you've gone diving, where is your favorite?

The Solomon Islands is one of my favorite dive spots. It is the site of major Marine Corps battles during WWII. There is a bounty of things to see/explore as a diver - ships, tanks, airplanes, not to mention the unreal marine life displaying all colors of the rainbow.

Describe your most amazing underwater moment.

Actually, there are two. First, in the Santa Barbara Channel during the rebreather training prior which reinforced my place on the "X Team." While in the midst of the America's Underwater Treasures expedition, I was able to earn my rebreather certification. This was a great advance in my training. It now allows me to dive silently for longer periods of time and I can get a closer look at critters.

Another amazing but intense moment happened at Cordell Bank. After being forced to turn back to shore the day before due to rough weather, we arrived at the dive site during horrible sea conditions. We were battling the odds against us - extreme seasickness among the team and the fact that there hadn't been a successful dive on Cordell Bank in the last 10 years. My job was to dive in first and confirm anchor placement as a safety measure before the team entered the water. Don Santee, our Expedition Leader, trusted me for the task. This area has strong, unpredictable currents and a formidable history of turning divers away. The dive was arduous and as I descended, I could hear the topside team calling on my mask communication system. However, they couldn't hear my responses, so I knew there was a breakdown in communication. As I worked to confirm anchor placement at a depth of 110 feet, I swear I saw a dark object swimming in the distance. I stayed on the anchor line - my lifeline - knowing that with the swift current and lack of communication, there was the distinct danger of being swept away to sea. At that point I made a decision to not let go of the line or descend further. It all worked out okay - I completed the task and enabled the dive to proceed safely for all.