Friday, May 25 , 2018, 2:13 pm | A Few Clouds 66º


Cousteau’s ‘Swains Island’ a Finalist at Blue Ocean International Film Festival

Swains Island, an isolated 877-acre coral atoll located 200 miles north of America Samoa, was once known by few people. Now, it has been added to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and is the subject of a fascinating new documentary film titled Swains Island: One of the Last Jewels of the Planet.

The film is produced by international explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau of the Ocean Futures Society and filmmaker Jim Knowlton.

Now, for the first time, viewers will experience the unique natural and cultural history of what Cousteau calls “a place of beauty and hope.”

The documentary is a finalist in the Blue Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit, being held in St. Petersburg, Fla., through Nov. 10. It will be shown at 11 a.m. Friday. The film has also been submitted to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for consideration.

In the film, Cousteau, Dan Basta, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and Knowlton join a team of scientists on an expedition to Swains Island, which is only reachable by boat. Once on the atoll, the group explores the remote coral reefs that Cousteau says are as healthy as any you could find.

The researchers conduct the first-ever archaeological survey of the island to search for clues to the past use of the island, such as its use by early Polynesians, and later, as a copra plantation owned by the Jennings family. They also search underwater in a freshwater lake on the island to look for artifacts that may have been lost or hidden by early Polynesians. The team also studies whether the lake may once have been open to the ocean, and if so, where the opening might have been.

"It’s important that we set aside biologically rich, unique areas like Swains Island to help protect ocean health so that future generations will have a chance to see and experience these natural wonders," said Knowlton, who shot, wrote and edited the film. “I am forever changed by my time on Swains Island, which provided me with an opportunity to experience a remote and beautiful environment. But, it has been the generosity of the people and the scientists, and their trust in me to tell their stories that have moved and inspired me the most.”

— Sarah Ettman-Sterner represents Nuvigreen Productions.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >