“Our ambassador’s program, whether it’s teaching coral reef ecology or kelp forests off of Catalina Island, is really this sustainable message. How can we look at our own society, our humanity, and better improve our simple lessons of sustainability so we live within our means of a natural world.” ~ Holly Lohuis
For the past 20 years, Holly Lohuis has taught thousands of children and adults about our inextricable connection to the ocean. When Jean-Michel Cousteau decided that the resort that was to bear his name needed a resident marine scientist, Holly got the job. Holly shares highlights of the resort science program she started, along with the many benefits for the resort, its guests and the ocean.
Holly is a marine biologist with a degree from the University of California–Santa Barbara. For more than fifteen years, she has explored the world with Jean-Michel Cousteau and his team. As a member of the expedition team of the PBS series Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures, Holly acts as a liaison with scientists. She is responsible for confirming the factual accuracy of Ocean Futures Society underwater film documentaries and publications.
Jean-Michel Cousteau needed a naturalist to engage guests in citizen science
In the early 1990’s Jean-Michel became involved with a resort in Fiji. This resort was based on the design of a traditional Fijian village. 99% of the staff there were Fijians from the local villages.
“Jean-Michel loved the cultural aspect of the resort, plus it was at the doorstep of some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.…He saw the value of this place and the importance of protecting it, both culturally and biologically. He put his name on the resort to show that you can be economically viable by offering a high-end sustainable travel resort but still be culturally sensitive and restore a lot of the native areas that had been impacted by development.”
Holly says that the first step to this vision was to have a full-time naturalist on staff. This person engages the guests in citizen science. They collect data to better understand changes on the coral reefs. This activity also empowers the guests that they’re part of important scientific research.
“What can I do to help create a more sustainable future?”
Holly asked herself this question, which led her to where she is now. She also hears it often echoed by the guests:
“A large percentage of guests, especially those that are scuba divers, come because of the Cousteau name…there is a high level of expectation that there is going to be an enhancement of the legacy of Cousteau…an opening of their eyes to not only some of the impacts of on these fragile underwater ecosystems, but what can I do to help create a more sustainable future?”
“What we do is based on a much bigger project called our Ambassadors of the Environment. We have educational programs with high-end hotels, a small cruise line, the Fiji resort and even a small camp program on Catalina Island…the general philosophy is to engage kids to learn some simple ecological relationships within the ecosystem, how they can help maintain the stability of this underwater ecosystem. How can we look at our own society, our humanity, and better improve our simple lessons of sustainability so we live within our means of a natural world?”
As a marine educator, Holly has taught thousands of children and adults about the wonders and fragility of the marine environment. She inspires people to learn about today’s ocean issues and become ocean stewards, protecting our water planet for future generations. Holly has been a marine educator for almost 20 years. With the mentoring of Jean-Michel Cousteau, she has been involved in creating Ocean Futures Society’s consistent theme: the ocean is connected to the existence and lifestyle of every human being. For her educational outreach efforts, in 2009 Holly was honored with the Hall of Fame award from the San Juan School district in her hometown, Sacramento, California.
“People Protect What they Love”
Jean-Michel’s father, Jacques Cousteau, often said, “People protect what they love.” Through Holly’s stories, knowledge and passion, we understand the ocean’s importance and allure. Children and adults fall in love with the ocean and these adventures, which contain the critical environmental message that we are all part of the web of life.
Today, we must embrace sustainable choices in all its aspects including sustainable travel, sustainable business practices and sustainable diving.
To see all of Holly’s interview visit the Blue Ocean Summit 2015: Holly Lohuis. Learn more about Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, and find out how to become a part of Ambassadors of the Environment.
Holly has been a real #OceanChangemaker. There is so much to take away from Holly’s experiences and the inspiration that her educational programs have given to thousands of children. For more inspiration, read how Andy Miners created the incredible Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. See his article at: Ocean Profiles: Andy Miners