Return to the Amazon

Return to the Amazon: An Educator's Perspective

Richard Murphy

An Educator's Perspective on Jean-Michel Cousteau, Education and the Amazon Expedition

Richard Muphy Ph.D., Director of Science and Education at Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society reflects on over 50 years of making documentaries, outdoor education programs and story telling.

Return to the Amazon Expedition Team

Return to the Amazon

The Cousteau team has been on expeditions almost continuously for the past sixty years. Team members have come and gone and many have come back continuously for the next adventure. This list represents those team members who have been a part of the past, the present and may well be a part of future expeditions. Return to the Amazon aired on PBS in April 2008.

Return to the Amazon Gallery

The Amazon

The Ocean Futures Society Team completed a ten-month-long investigation of the great waterway—navigating upstream some 3,700 kilometres and tracing the river near its very source at a melting glacier 4,900 metres high in the Andes to its mouth in the Atlantic. There, the Pororoca, considered the world’s most dangerous tidal bore, roars into life, careening upstream, wreaking havoc along its path.

LOUDMOUTH: The howler monkey is the world’s loudest land animal. Its far-from-melodious cry can be heard up to five kilometres away. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

WATCHFUL EYES: A shy squirrel monkey peeks out from its jungle hiding place. Although squirrel monkeys spend most of their time in the trees, this one was near the riverbank looking for – what else? - food. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

A BITE TO EAT: The boto, or pink river dolphin, is about to catch a tasty morsel. The unfused vertebrae in its neck allow the boto to move its head in all directions; and the 30 some pairs of teeth in its upper and lower jaws make it well equipped to crush its favourite meal, armoured catfish, and even the hard shells of crabs or turtles.© Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

VIEW FROM BASE CAMP: Spectacular sunset on the Rio Jauaperí, which flows into the Rio Negro. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

REBIRTH: This moulting katydid has just emerged from its old shell. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

EMPEROR TAMARIN: It is thought that the emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator) with its long white mustache was named for Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. Small, weighing only around 400 grams, emperor tamarins are agile and leap easily from branch to branch. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

TREE FROG: This strikingly coloured tree frog (Ranitomeya biolat), like other poison frogs, has alkaloids on its skin that render it toxic. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

THREE TURTLES: An instant after this photo was taken from the shore of the Los Amigos River, all three turtles lost their footing and fell into the drink. Was it the weight of the butterfly that landed on the second turtle’s snout that tipped the balance? © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

LIGHTS, ACTION!: Filming in the murky, iced-tea-coloured Amazon depths requires artificial lighting: strobes for the still camera and portable HMI (Hydrargyrum Medium arc Iodide) lights, which OFS helped develop and which have revolutionized underwater filming in high definition. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

FAMILY PORTRAIT WITH ... ER ... FRIEND?: Fabien, Jean-Michel and Céline Cousteau watch the cautious movements of a jacaré. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

UNDER WATER IN THE AMAZON: Bright tetras dart by in the reflections of tree trunks and roots above the water line. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

NOT A MOUSE!: But it is a mouse opossum. Céline Cousteau gets upclose and personal. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

LUNCH TIME!: Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). In the dry season, thousands of these cormorants come to feed on the fish of Mamirauá Lake. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

NOT A ZOO: Mindú Municipal Park is a 33-hectare ecological reserve completely locked in by the burgeoning city of Manaus. The green enclave has become the last stand for some 15 endangered pied bare-faced tamarins (Saguinus bicolor). © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

SWEET « GREMLIN » OF MINDÚ PARK: The embattled pied bare-faced tamarin is the mascot of the city of Manaus. At Christmas time, the inhabitants of the jungle metropolis show their affection for the diminutive monkey by decorating the streets with plastic statues of tamarins alongside more traditional decorations featuring Santa Claus or the Wise Men. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

HOATZINS: The chicken-sized hoatzin (pronounced "Watson") is striking with its beady red eyes and blue "eyeliner. " However, this exotic bird is sometimes called "stink bird" because of its manure-like odour. Unlike most other plant-eating birds, the hoatzin boasts a cow-like gut which allows it to digest much of the plant fibre in its diet. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

LET'S SEE WHO BLINKS FIRST: After a L-O-N-G stare-down, this female sloth continued on its unhurried way. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

DANCER: Accompanied by drummers, local villagers in colourful costume perform at the hotel and dazzle its guests with their agility. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

TITI MONKEY: Despite the pouring rain, this dusky titi monkey (Callicebus moloch) seemed just as fascinated by the photographer as she was by him. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

ZECKE: Zecke, a pensive-looking monk saki (Pithecia monachus), was adopted in 2002 by Gudrun Sperrer, owner of the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage in Iquitos. Monk sakis, found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, are diurnal tree dwellers. Monogamous pairs breed for life and live in nuclear families; however, at night, several families may sleep in the same tree. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

Day for Night

DAY FOR NIGHT: Despite appearances, this photo was taken at night from final base camp. The moon illuminates the scene, and stars show as streaks because of the camera’s seven-minute-long exposure time. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Aerial

AERIAL: This photo taken from a helicopter shows the meltwater lake. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

The Redder the Better

THE REDDER THE BETTER: Since a pale-faced white uakari shows a symptom of malaria, the more scarlet the face, the healthier the individual. This white uakari may look 1) old, 2) sick or 3) grumpy but is none of the above. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Beast of Colourful Burden

BEAST OF COLOURFUL BURDEN: Oblivious to the grandeur of the 4,000-metre-altitude setting, the hard-working pack animal goes about its work. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Warm Hand, Warm Head

WARM HAND, WARM HEAD: This little boy wearing a chullo, the ubiquitous head covering in the region, and holding a relative’s hand was shy about having his picture taken. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Cusco

CUSCO, PERU: This woman, wearing traditional garb, including a flat-topped hat, and leading a blue-eyed llama, allows tourists visiting Cusco to snap her picture – for a price (50 cents US). © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Life at the Top of the World

LIFE AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD: Céline Cousteau (foreground): "There was a picturesque little hut built of mud and stacked rocks, its roof thatched with long, coarse grass. I asked our guide, ‘How does somebody live here?’ And he told me that herders live in these huts seasonally to let their animals graze and then return to lower altitudes in the winter. We saw four such dwellings on our hike. Just when you thought you were really out there and there was nothing around, all of a sudden there was this mud house." © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society/KQED

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