A couple of months ago we posted a video of a talk Mike deGruy ’75 of Santa Barbara, Calif., who has been called “one of the world’s greatest underwater cameramen,” gave during a TED conference in April that brought together ocean experts. Since then, deGruy has returned to his hometown — Mobile, Alabama — to see the impact of the Gulf oil spill, and he plans to return in a couple of weeks.
He spoke with NC State magazine this week about his first trip to the Gulf and what he learned. “The first trip was, in a nutshell, a giant research trip for three weeks,” says deGruy, who owns the Film Crew, which makes productions for the likes of PBS, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel. On his second trip to the Gulf, he plans to film and capture what’s happening under water and to document “the story of the scientists and what they are up to.”
In his interview with us, he provides a fascinating description of diving near oil and explains why the trip was a “real enlightening experience.” After the jump, you’ll also find a first-person account of the time that a shark nearly killed him, which appeared in a 1992 issue of NC State magazine. We’ll talk with deGruy again after he returns from his second trip to the Gulf. If there are any questions you’d like for us to ask him, leave a comment.
Why did you go to the Gulf Coast?
I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and a lot of my childhood friends and family are either impacted by or are involved in this oil mess down there. I spent a lot of time as a kid in the rivers and the Mobile Bay and the Deltas and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s actually where I learned to scuba dive. There’s a warm spot in my heart for that area and for the people in that area. I wanted to go down there and see what I could do to help tell some of the stories and find out what was going on.
What were the stories you found there?
It’s an interesting answer to that question.