STAGE

Jonathan Bird (USA)

Jonathan Bird

Significant Career Achievement and/or Industry Contribution

Jonathan Bird founded Oceanic Research Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit environmental organization promoting conservation of the world’s oceans in 1990. Working from this non-profit, he created Jonathan Bird's Blue World, an educational family-friendly underwater science/adventure series. It aired on PBS from 2008-2014 and then transitioned to YouTube in season 5. On YouTube, it has become the most widely-watched scuba-themed program in the world, with more than 109 million views, and 320,000 subscribers, and still growing. The program is now fully funded by YouTube—the largest broadcast network in the world. It is also syndicated on television in 20 countries around the world. In various seasons, Jonathan Bird’s Blue World has been partially funded by the National Science Foundation and a number of foundations and companies, particularly the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Jonathan has created and produced over 30 films for broadcast and education. His films have appeared all over the world, on networks such as National Geographic Channel, PBS, ABC, USA Network, Discovery and the SciFi Channel. His series has won 8 Emmy Awards since inception. He is also an accomplished still photographer and the author of seven books of underwater photography with articles and images published in hundreds of magazines, calendars and books. His contributions include introducing millions of children around the globe to the world of scuba diving.

Jonathan Bird is an Emmy award-winning cinematographer specializing in underwater production. He is the host and producer of Jonathan Bird's Blue World, an educational family-friendly underwater science/adventure series. It can be seen on YouTube or www.BlueworldTV.com. This series has won 8 Emmy Awards since its inception in 2008. As both the director of photography and the host of the series, Jonathan shares his enthusiastic love of the ocean with audiences as he travels the world exploring marine mysteries and learning about the wonders of nature. Production of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World is ongoing (season 6 in production) and planned to continue for at least 5 more years.

He is currently in the final phase of principal photography of his first film for IMAX theaters, about underwater cave science called Ancient Caves. It will be released by giant screen film distributor MacGillivray Freeman Films in fall, 2019. Additional IMAX projects are slated to start production in 2019 and 2021. In 2016, he produced his first giant screen film, Space School, about underwater astronaut training at NASA for the digital dome theater market. It is distributed by both Sky-Skan, and Evans & Sutherland.

He has produced and directed two films specifically for National Geographic Channel and has worked on assignment as an underwater cinematographer for virtually every network involved in documentary production as well as the CBS network program The Crazy Ones (with Robin Williams).

Jonathan was born in Big Spring, Texas in 1969. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts (1990), and an MS in Ocean Engineering from the University of New Hampshire (2002). He learned to dive in college for gym credit (certified 1989) and soon fell in love with the ocean. He combined his passion for photography with diving and soon became serious about underwater photography. He began speaking in schools to spread his passion for protecting the oceans, and soon his school lectures were so popular that they were getting in the way of his "real" job as an engineer at Raytheon. He began learning underwater video so that he could make a video version of his lecture to reach more schools. Twenty five years later, Jonathan is one of the most influential and well-known ocean educators in the world, with millions of viewers on television and the internet watching his educational series Jonathan Bird's Blue World.

In his role as the host and producer of Jonathan Bird's Blue World, Jonathan is getting a whole new generation of people interested in the oceans and in scuba diving. Jonathan's fans are mostly under 18 years old, so his influence in the scuba industry has yet to be felt. But the millions of younger people around the world who watch his program on YouTube at all hours of the day and night are mesmerized by his adventures discovering the underwater world. Jonathan receives hundreds of fan letters a month from all over the world from kids expressing their intention to become marine biologists, ocean explorers or scuba divers when they grow up. He has been compared to a combination of Jacques Cousteau and the Crocodile Hunter, and the "Bill Nye of the Sea." Jonathan finds both of these characterizations humbling and complimentary.

Jonathan taught himself underwater video, studying the work of Howard Hall and other talented underwater cinematographers. Within a year he had produced a film that had been accepted for distribution into school educational programs by one of the largest educational film distributors in the world. That film—released in 1992—is still in distribution by Discovery Education 26 years later. Around the same time, Jonathan formed a non-profit organization called Oceanic Research Group whose goal was to take topics in ocean research and make it accessible and interesting to younger people, thereby promoting ocean conservation. A series of educational films and an extremely popular website have come out of this. Oceanic Research Group, Inc. gained official 501(c)(3) status in 1993. The name is a playful homage to Jacques Cousteau’s first organization which translated to "Undersea Research Group."

Throughout the 1990s, Jonathan expanded his ocean career, both as an assignment still photographer and a cinematographer. Eventually he released 7 books of underwater photography and shot video for networks all over the world, as well as releasing dozens of independently-produced natural history films for schools, and television. He won his first Emmy in 1995. In 2004, he produced his first film for National Geographic Television (Sharks of the Ocean Desert). He was the producer, director, and director of photography.

Today, Oceanic Research Group has just celebrated its 28th anniversary and expanded its mission to include marine scholarships and educational television productions. It is a co-producing partner on Jonathan Bird's Blue World. A listing of his numerous Awards and Honors can be found at www.jonathanbird.net.

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