In Jacques Cousteau's footsteps

In Jacques Cousteau's footsteps
Celine Cousteau, a legendary explorer, environmentalist and film-maker.

It took Celine Cousteau more than three decades to find her true calling.

Before embarking on a full-time career as an explorer and documentary film-maker, she worked as a mental health worker in a hospital in Virginia and a fine jewellery designer in Italy, and went to graduate school in New York to study international and intercultural relations.

In between all that, she would occasionally accompany her parents on expeditions. It seems she could not escape what was always in her blood.

The 41-year-old is the granddaughter of French oceanographer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, who was famous for his documentaries about the underwater world and for co-inventing the aqua lung. Often filmed wearing his iconic red beret, Jacques Cousteau died in 1997 at the age of 87.

Her father, Jacques' son Jean-Michel Cousteau, 76, too, went into the business of making documentaries, while her mother was an expedition photographer who occasionally joined him on his trips.

Ms Cousteau, who has made documentaries about ocean life and the indigenous tribes of the Amazon jungle, describes her journey towards exploring and documentary-making as "not a shining light moment, but more of a longer path".

Her family, obviously, had a role to play.

"What's around you inspires and influences you in ways you're not even aware of," she says.

Her brother Fabien Cousteau, 46, is also an ocean explorer and film-maker.

She started travelling with her parents on expeditions from the age of nine - her first trip was to the Amazon.

Helping her father out on one particular expedition in 2006 was also a major push towards following in his footsteps, she adds.

The documentary they were filming was about the great whale migration from California to Alaska.

"I joined the team to help out with logistics and production but ended up hosting and presenting," she says.

"Out there in Alaska, in the completely flat Arctic tundra, it was just such a stunning place to be, and I felt so lucky to be able to follow these whales in their migration course and see the people living there in that climate as well."

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