‘ I’m passionate about the ocean ‘: Celine Cousteau on diving off the Americas

The film-maker and conservationist is as determined to protect the marine world and indigenous peoples, in places like Mexico and the Amazon, as her famous forebears

People always think that my grandpa Jacques or father [ oceanographic explorer] Jean-Michel were my main influences. But my mother was a great influence too. She was an expedition photographer and from when I was about nine and living in France she travelled for around three months of the year I used to swing by her office and assure her tilted over the light table looking at slides from her latest expedition. It was natural to see all these far-flung places brought back home.

Im passionate about the ocean and its preservation . I expended time lately in Cancun, Mexico with the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program. Its the second largest reef system on countries around the world and there are scientists working on amazing projects, replanting coral and trying to understand its resilience to shifts in ocean activity. Its crucial work coral is such an important ecosystem in terms of sustaining life.

Cline Cousteau. Photo: Capkin van Alphen/ CauseCentric Productions

Cancun is a tourist centre, but get off the beaten track and there are wonderful things to explore. Id recommend the underwater sculpture park by Jason deCaires Taylor, which snorkellers can see from above, divers from below. It creates miniature reef systems for animals to congregate in a great way of using art as conservation.

I was never keen on the idea of diving in caves , I like having an exit above me, but the cenotes ( the underwater caves) in the Yucatn are magical. Lights of light come in from the outside, its simply beautiful.

Diving in Cabo Pulmo feels like swimming in an aquarium . This small town in the far south of Mexicos Baja California is basically their home communities of fisherman families who realised they were over-fishing their own backyard and created a marine protected region. They fish outside the protected segment for commercial purposes and inside for what they can feed their family. Over the past decade or so theyve insured it return to its baseline nation of health, its amazing. And tourists come for diving now so the locals economic well-being and food source are secured.

Cabo Pulmo, Baja California, Mexico. Photograph: Alamy

I have a lifelong connection to the Amazon . I flew down there with my grandpa to spend two weeks on his barge, the Calypso, when I was nine. My entire family were somewhere in the Amazon my mother on a land expedition, my father and brother on a raft on another river. It really opened my eyes to another world. If we can give infants an opportunity to experience other places and cultural activities in whatever way they can it profoundly changes who we are as adults.

The Amazon exams you on a physical, emotional and mental level . Ive been working on a movie and engagement campaign called Tribes on the Edge in the Brazilian Amazon for years and it will be released this year. It will tell the story of the tribes of the Vale do Javari indigenous province. Its a complex area to work in 85,000 sq km of jungle. Wed go for two to three weeks at a time. Theres a romantic notion of what such a place is like, but the reality is its a very intense place to be.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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