Jean-Michel Cousteau to Open Dive Center on Petit St. Vincent This Winter
July 31, 2014 (Santa Barbara, CA)
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Holly S. Lohuis
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Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, will open a dive center on the Caribbean island of Petit St. Vincent (PSV) in the southern Grenadines before the end of the year. Following extensive research of the reefs and aquatic life in the region by Jean-Michel and his team, he felt PSV would be a perfect place to share the wonders of coral reefs with guests and locals.
The newly established local company, known as "Jean-Michel Cousteau's Caribbean Divers", is owned and operated by Jean-Michel Cousteau and long time colleague, Don Santee. The new dive center will provide guided dives as well as diving instruction and PADI certifications for all levels of divers. Both Jean-Michel Cousteau and PSV management view the dive center as the first step in an ongoing program to protect the waters and aquatic life in the region.
While the dive center will operate independently of the resort, they will share some facilities including the existing dock and boathouse. An on-staff naturalist/marine biologist will offer guided underwater tours and hikes around the island with the goal of educating and entertaining guests about the area’s rich marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The naturalist will also work with local schools and NGOs on surrounding islands including Union Island, Carriacou and Petit Martinique to develop educational programs and projects.
"This project is personally very exciting for me," said PSV's owner Phil Stephenson. "Like a lot of our guests, I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau’s specials every Sunday night on American broadcast television. It's what got me into scuba diving as a kid and produced a lifetime love of the ocean. Having Jean-Michel and his staff help teach PSV's guests about diving and the diversity of undersea world is really a dream come true."
In addition to the new dive center, PSV is also working with scientists at the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to reduce the island’s environmental footprint and make operations "greener". For example, the resort has replaced plastic drinking bottles with reusable glass bottles with sealed tops, installed a wastewater treatment plant to reduce the discharge of untreated waters, and planned a retention pond for natural filtration using water lilies, tilapia fish and frogs which will assist in natural mosquito reduction.
PSV will continue to grow as much of their own fruits and vegetables on island as possible, rainwater will be harvested from rooftops for irrigation and a composting system will be put into place. These and many other planned initiatives will help reduce the island’s environmental footprint and create a beautiful and productive landscape.
“We must connect the ocean to the existence of every human being,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society. “My father used to say, ‘people protect what they love’, and so it is our hope that by encouraging and enabling divers to explore the waters around PSV, and by initiating sustainability measures on the island, we will be creating ambassadors of the ocean and land for generations to come and share this important message: ‘Protect the ocean and you protect yourself.’”
About Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society
Ocean Futures Society (OFS) is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization with the motto, “Protect the ocean and you protect yourself.” The mission of OFS is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean's vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet. OFS is based in Santa Barbara, California, with offices in France and Brazil. www.oceanfutures.org.
About Petit St Vincent
Petit St Vincent is a privately-owned 115-acre island in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The island has just 22 one- and two-bedroom cottages dotted along the beaches and bluffs, positioned perfectly for the ultimate in privacy and seclusion. The cottages are free of televisions, telephones and internet connections. A major renovation project was completed in 2011, which included the addition of a treetop spa and beachfront restaurant and bar. www.petitstvincent.com