Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 8:11 am | Fair 45º


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.

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