SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In a sea of commercial film releases these days, "Odyssea 3D" stands out for its depth and intricate underwater beauty of small and microscopic things.
It is a five year labor of love by the Santa Barbara-based Ocean Futures Society, capturing images in a handful of locations from the Mediterranean Sea to Southern California, thanks to new technology, painstaking efforts and a minimum of three dives for every species filmed.
"We go and we film that," said co-director Jean-Michel Cousteau. "You have to put tripods ... It's not easy and you film and you hope you have good images."
It is safe to say the images are not just good, they're brilliant -- in quality, clarity and Mother Nature's gift of vibrant colors. Cousteau, founder of Ocean Futures Society, said his biggest highlight while working on this film was an unexpected swarm while diving with assistant Holly Lohuis.
"We got caught in these millions of squids! And that was fascinating, absolutely fascinating! I would do that every year if I could," Cousteau said with a laugh.
Cousteau, now in his 70th year of scuba diving, points out that something similar happened to his ocean pioneering father, Jacques, decades ago in 1988 off Catalina. His take from that experience: the squid population is thriving.
"Because we have regulations they are still there," he said. "We manage that the way we manage a business and I say Bravo!"
The Santa Barbara ocean explorer reveals a local, offshore interest.
"Locally, I am fascinated by kelp. Kelp plays a very important role and most people don't realize but we are connected to kelp on land," Cousteau said.
He points out how kelp is harvested in a sustainable way and is an ingredient in many things we use or eat every day, from lipstick to toothpaste, even ice cream.
"These products are being put in things we consume all the time," he said.
Cousteau's message emphasizes balancing a vast ocean wilderness with our need for food and things, and respecting how it all works together.
"We all depend on that ocean," he said. "We need to stop using it as a trash can. We need to stop using it as a universal sewer."
Odyssea 3D is expected to be released for viewing in theaters nationwide in 2017.