David Brown

Protecting the Finger Lakes watersheds through media

The motivational capability of images was made clear to David Brown for the first time decades ago when he was working as a naturalist aboard whale watching vessels off New England, “I was impressed at the power of still photos I was shooting to reach people that couldn't actually come to sea,” he recalled. Four years of that work was followed by a seven-year hitch with the Cousteau Society, where he gained extensive field experience, participated in the production of a number of Cousteau films worldwide and represented the Cousteau Society to national audiences. Later, he formed his own production company that provided viewers with live access to marine habitats of all kinds, and recently completed a NOAA-funded project with the Ithaca Sciencenter (“Ocean Bound!”) that depicts a virtual submarine ride from inland waterways to the open ocean.

After moving his family to Ithaca, New York, his childhood home in the Finger Lakes region, David was alarmed to find that these beautiful aquascapes—filled with vibrant streams and lakes—might soon be compromised by hydrofracking, a potentially environmentally destructive form of natural gas extraction. His Fellowship project, entitled “BASELINE,” is a comprehensive underwater video documentation of Finger Lakes watersheds ahead of changes from gas drilling and the intrusion of invasive species, an effort supported by TogetherGreen and the PARK Foundation.

David’s TogetherGreen fellowship project included twenty-five days of underwater documentation of lakes and streams in Central New York, including 6 lakes, 6 streams, 2 vernal ponds and a river/canal complex that links 2 lakes. This has yielded over twenty-five hours of footage for use in outreach and for use as a visual baseline of the region’s water system. All of his video has been donated to the Finger Lakes Institute, Cayuga Lake Watershed Alliance, Cayuga Nature Center and the Ithaca Sciencenter for use in educating the public about watershed issues.


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