August 24, 2010 03:06 AM

Céline Cousteau – like her legendary grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, the late French underwater explorer and filmmaker – has traveled the world and come face-to-fin with many exotic creatures. But back on land it’s her adopted cat, Domino, who helps her keep it all in perspective.

Cousteau shares her Brooklyn, N.Y., home with Domino, a “big black kitty” that she got at a pound in New Mexico and whom she says has a dog-like personality. “When I come home,” Cousteau told at a reception in New York on Aug. 18 to benefit Ocean Inspiration, “he comes to the door.”

Her pet has taught Cousteau, who is following in her grandfather’s foot – or flipper – steps as a documentary filmmaker, to slow down once in awhile. “I am constantly on the go,” said Cousteau. “But and every now and again, I’ll look up from my desk, and [see that] my cat is sitting on the window sill bird-watching, enjoying the moment. So I’ll bird-watch [with him] for a little bit.”

When she’s not swimming with penguins in Antarctica or anacondas in the Amazon, Cousteau espouses many of the same causes Jacques, who would have been 100 this year, did. She will preside over Ocean Inspiration: a tribute to Jacques Cousteau and a celebration of ocean advocacy, in New York on Oct. 9-10.

“The event is a celebration of my grandfather’s hundredth anniversary,” said Cousteau, who produces documentaries for CauseCentric, a nonprofit company founded by her family. She also works with Reefs at Risk to create documentaries about coral issues. “A lot of coral is dying,” says Cousteau. “There is pollution, agricultural runoff. Reefs at Risk does what is almost like a triage, pointing up which coral is available to be saved. In the films, we will be asking, ‘Who is finding solutions?’ And ‘What can be done?’ “

Shepherding the health of the world’s largest bodies of water is the Cousteau family’s legacy. When she was 9, Cousteau traveled with her grandfather to the Amazon. She returned a few years ago to do a documentary on the mighty river.

One of her most extraordinary experiences during the voyage was diving with an anaconda. “I was with a crew that had previously made a living as hunters,” she said. “I relied on them to understand the behavior of the anaconda. I don’t take undue risks, but these are not the man-eating creatures we think they are.”

When Cousteau is not at home with Domino, she’s enjoying her other “family” in the underwater world. “I’m diving, traveling. Right now I’m co-hosting a 12-part travel series in Chile called Oceanos,” she said. “Chile has 4,000 kilometers of coastline, and territory in Antarctica. We’ve already filmed with dolphins, but there are also whales, sea lions, penguins, birds … fish. When we’re entering their realm, you can’t behave the way you do on land with your pets. They’re wild animals. We learn from the scientists who are specialists what behavior is okay and what is not.”

You May Like