Growing up in a family of renowned oceanographic explorers, environmentalists and filmmakers, travel and conservationism was a natural part of Céline Cousteau’s upbringing.
After studying psychology and intercultural relations for her Bachelor and Master’s degrees, an internship in Costa Rica helped sow the seeds for it to take over her profession as well.
“I started working as a tour guide and seeing the relationship people had with cultures and with the environment when they travelled and the opportunities that were offered to them, which for me had been natural and I had taken maybe for granted,” she told Travel Courier. “I started working with my father during the same era. I started working with him on a series of documentaries for American television and all of the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. So, it was really a series of years as opposed to an event that had me shift. Travel had always been a part of my family’s life. Nature had been, obviously, an integral part of our lives — it’s the stories that we told. And then it became a more professional part of mine in my late 20s, early 30s.”
And that stint in Costa Rica? It got prolonged from three months to three years.
Although she’s now focused on connecting people and the environment as a filmmaker, explorer and spokesperson, including in her role as TreadRight’s ‘Planet’ Ambassador, Cousteau says studying psychology still impacts what she does today.
“I feel the study of the human mind and human behaviour just helps us better understand the people that we interact with, whether it’s across cultures or across beliefs,” she says. “Being able to empathize with a person who is in front of you and also being able to understand that when you start having a conversation with someone they are coming in with their life full of experiences and traumas and so I think psychology really helps to be able to navigate those relationships and those discussions and being perhaps a little bit more sensitive to the other person.”
Her career has led her to embark on expeditions to track the grey whale migration from Mexico to Alaska, research shark species in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and to share stories about indigenous cultures from the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.