The Water Planet team is proficient in marine ecology, seamanship, psychology, ocupational therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture/acupressure, moxa therapy, sensory toning therapeutic techniques like massage, watsu and wata, cranio sacral therapy, expressive arts and music. Their social and linguistic skills, developed in contact with a broad spectrum of cultures and ethnic groups is certainly an asset in favor of your experience.
The facilitators of “Water Planet” do not pretend to have the knowledge and the qualifications needed to solve the ecological and existential problems this world is facing, but with their combined experience and skills they will help you with your approach to understanding your bond to nature and its deeper meaning.
Denis was born in 1950 in Switzerland where he spent the first 20 years of his life. He studied Literature and Languages, then left his country on a continuous field trip for the study of various foreign cultures and ethnic groups. Between 1970 and 1982, his travels took him first to Asia, then to Africa where he lived for four years on Manda Island with the Bajunis, who taught him Kiswahili, local handicraft, indigenous coral reef ecology and how to survive using the resources of the ocean and of the African Bush. An avid sailor, he embarked on a Trans-Indian Ocean sailing expedition and worked as boat Captain and salvage diver in the Maldive Islands. He ended his trip in India where he stayed at an Ashram to investigate an interest in eastern spirituality and religion.
After starting a Hotel-Dive operation in Jamaica in 1983, he came to the United States to continue his education. He became a naturalized citizen. After 3 years of commercial fishing in Alaska, Denis understood the need for a different approach to the management of our planet’s resources. After an attempt to start an awareness project related to dolphins casualty in the tuna fisheries in Central America, he worked for four years as executive director and then as president of a wild dolphin project in Panama City Beach, Florida between 1995 and 1999. setting up and implementing education and awareness programs in the schools of Bay and Walton County.
Since 1999 he is President and founder of Water Planet. Inc. Together with his wife Nathalie and his staff, he has developed programs of self-improvement for the general public and for families of children with special needs.
Nathalie was born and raised in Kinshasa, Republic of the Congo. She completed her higher education in Belgium where she obtained a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Louvain. Her Masters thesis is on “Therapy with Dolphins,” a critical analyses of several research works on mentally disabled children.
Nathalie is also a certified physical education teacher. She is a graduate student of “La Source – School for the Applications of Aquatic Welfare Techniques.” She is continuing her education to become a “Water Babies” instructor.
Nathalie first swam with dolphins in 1992. Her experience shaped her whole career orientation. She did a 3-month internship in Panama City Beach, where she met her husband Denis Richard.
She has published educational books for children and after developing special dolphin-encounter programs involving sensory toning techniques for children with disabilities. Nathalie has shared her time as a full time mom with studying photography. She does most of the topside photography for Water Planet.
Nathalie is co-owner of Water Planet.
Natalie is our bright and energized Therapeutic Programs and Internships Coordinator. She has been involved with Water Planet since 2013 when she started as an intern. She fell in love with the dolphins, the programs and the organization. Coming from Sydney, Australia, Natalie is an Occupational Therapist who has a key passion for children, animals and the intrinsic connection between the two. Natalie works in a full scope of roles, with experience in Pediatric Therapy, Neurological Rehabilitation, Equine Therapy and Grief Counseling wherein she aims to empower, strengthen and make a positive and lasting change to all those she encounters. Natalie’s passion has taken her around the world including to Vietnam where she worked with children with special needs, providing individualized and targeted intervention. She worked in Kenya to educate, up skill and empower the community in regards to varying physical and mental conditions whilst establishing a special needs unit within a school in Nakuru.
Through all her work, she endeavors to interconnect the emotional, physical and cognitive components to ensure a holistic approach is taken for growth and success. Likewise, at Water Planet, Natalie seeks to ensure the programs are meaningful to each individual, whether that be for a day trip or a week long program, Natalie strives to go above and beyond to make each experience unique, memorable and hopefully, life changing.
Chloe Hanson – Cooper
Chloe is a native of Austin, TX. She has been involved with Water Planet since she was an intern during the summer of 2013. She served as the Therapeutic Programs and Intern Coordinator for the years 2015, 16 and 17. Chloe comes to us with a unique background having experience in developing special needs programs for non-profits, neurodevelopment therapy, behavioral therapy, and social integration. She has relinquished her responsibilities as Water Planet’s Coordinator and now spends the majority of her time devoted to her recently opened company, Find Your Sunshine. Her Austin, TX based company provides individualized therapeutic services to children, teens, and adults with special needs. In addition, Chloe has started her own non-profit organization, Social Bridges, focusing on closing the social gaps for people with special needs and their peers.
Chloe has a special attraction to the ocean and children and loves serving with Water Planet to bring those two passions together. Along with Chloe’s experience with the special needs population, come experience in the water. She teaches swim lessons specializing in integrated classes for children with special needs and has been in the ocean since childhood. Chloe is now a consultant on the Water Planet Advisory Board and strives to ensure the quality of the experience families receive in their time with Water Planet.
Beth Lowe, PT, DPT
Beth has her doctorate in Physical Therapy and works with children in the Cobb County School System in Georgia, with brain injury clients at Shepherd Center, and with special needs children in the Aquatic setting at Unique Therapy Services where she currently lives in Atlanta, GA. Beth’s initial experience with Water Planet as an intern in was in 2004 while in Physical Therapy school at Ithaca College in NY. During this time, she participated in the Serenity program run by Unique Therapy Services (formerly Excellence in Therapy) and Water Planet. She fell in love with the ability to meld two of her passions into one where families were able to benefit not only from dolphin experiences but also therapy. Since that time, she has returned many summers to assist in running the therapy program set up by both Water Planet and Unique Therapy Services. After 21 years, Unique Therapy Services has decided to step back, and Beth is excited to lead the therapy portion of the program.
Suzanne Ganzak Carnill
The love of water and wildlife has shaped Sue’s life. She was born in Detroit, Michigan. She grew up appreciating the natural wonders of the Great Lakes.
Sue also has an easy rapport with people and a desire to help those in need. Her physicality and her service impulse led her to the police academy. She was hired as one the first women on the Detroit Police Force. Her badge was prematurely retired when an economic downturn caused a reduction in staffing.
Sue decided to use her skills to work in television production. She worked for WDIV television, the Detroit NBC Affiliate. After ten years, Sue went to work as the program coordinator at the Catholic Television Network of Detroit. Throughout her television career, Sue had a reputation for having a keen camera eye, her sense of humor and most importantly, throwing herself into a project and getting things done.
Sue’s life took a drastic turn when her beloved husband, Greg, was hit by a jet ski and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She left her job and devoted her life to his care, and to learning about the injury and its treatment. She moved with Greg to Panama City Beach, Florida.
Concern for her husband directed Sue to investigate non-traditional medicine alternatives, like nutritional supplements and therapies. Sue earned her massage license and became nationally certified in massage in 2001. She attended Soothing Arts Massage School in Destin, Florida. In 2002, she began attending classes at the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where she focused on CranioSacral Therapy and Somato Emotional Release.
Suzanne began working at Water Planet USA in the Harmony Program in 2008. She was asked to join the staff in 2009 and enthusiastically accepted the invitation.
Genevieve was born in Montreal, Canada in 1978. At age 9, while watching a movie about the bond of friendship between a young woman and a dolphin, she realizes that her life has to revolve around the ocean and dolphins. However, the opportunities are scarce in her parts of the world to get closer to her dream. After an attempt at literature and biology, she decides to complete a Baccalaureate in Child and Youth Care Work (Psychoeducation) at the University of Montreal and specializes in the behavior of children with PDD (Pervasive Development Disorders). It is during her third year of University that she re-discovers the dream she had as a little girl. She finds Water Planet after several months of looking for a facility offering encounters with dolphins in a manner that is compatible with her deep love and respect for animals. Genevieve signs up to a one-month session of the 2004 Water Planet Internship Program. This opportunity allows her to set the foundations of her Masters degree thesis and to design a research protocol. In the summer of 2005, she returns to Water Planet to conduct her research project: “The impact of the Water Planet Harmony Program on the adaptative behaviors of children with pervasive developmental disorders”. In 2006 Genevieve functions as Internship and Research Coordinator for Water Planet. Together with the Water Planet management, she sets up and implements the new interns training program and continues her research data collection. Genevieve successfully completed her Masters Degree in June of 2007. She is presently working in a psychiatric hospital for children where she helps youths with PDD. Because of a lack of conclusive research on the impact of the interaction between children with PDD and dolphins, Genevieve has developed her own research focusing since 2004 on the children, who participate in Water Planet’s Harmony Program.
The Serenity Program combines the staff & resources of Unique Therapy Services and Water Planet.
For 21 years, Pam has been the heartbeat of the Serenity Program in Panama City Beach. Pam is now retired from the program and acts as a consultant for Water Planet. Beth Lowe, PT, a student of Pam’s, has taken over the lead for the Serenity Program.
Pam Davidson, PT is a Georgia and Florida Licensed Physical Therapist with 37 years experience. She is the Owner and Director of Unique Therapy Services, LLC. in Roswell, Georgia. She is a Certified Clinical Instructor, an NDT Certified Therapist in Pediactrics, is WATSU Certified, and trained in CranioSacral Therapy, Pediatric CST, Somato Emotional Release, Lymphatic Drainage, Acupressure & Visceral Manipulation. She is also trained in Myofascial Release & Unwinding. She has worked extensively with neurologically involved individuals, and those with brain injury, ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum disorders, the mentally challenged, and incorporates Sensory Integration techniques in her work. She also has experience in such areas as Orthopedics, Sports Injuries, Oral Motor, Low Vision, Hearing Impaired and Gastric/Intestional challenges. Her practice also specializes in Aquatic Therapy and has an Adaptive Aquatics program for those (0-90) with many and varied disabilities. Additionally, she helped create and offers the “Serenity Dolphin Program” for the past 18 summers.
Pam was introduced to the special experience of swimming with dolphins and their therapeutic ways in 1995. Since that time she has pursued dolphin encounters in many locations, such as Mexico City, Cancun, Hawaii, Mississippi and Florida.
In 1998, Pam along with her husband and business partner Tim, were introduced to swimming with wild dolphins by Denis Richard of Water Planet. Pam & Tim believed immediately that adding dolphin encounters to UTS’ repertoire would be a wonderful & therapeutic experience for the children, in a most unique way. The Serenity Program was born
Glenn is a life long Panama City Resident and retired Life Science and Biology Teacher of 35 years. Glenn attended the University of Florida and graduated with a B.S. in Zoology, with a minor in Education. While working as a Life Science teacher, he along with others developed a coastal beach ecology program called Wet Week. This program allowed 7th graders to explore, learn, and use marine biology equipment, seine nets, yabby pumps and screens, triangle head nets and screens, and water quality tests. This allowed students to collect different types of marine organisms that live in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular along the shore.
A second program he helped develop was Bay Day, which allowed students to study Sea Grass habitat in the bay area. Sea grass is vastly important for marine organisms to grow and develop. In both programs, students caught, examined then released fish, crustaceans, mollusks, polychaete worms and other organisms that live in the sea grass habitat and coastal beach habitats.
Glenn officiates high school wrestling, and helped to establish the Northwest Florida officiating association, along with coaching wrestling and football at the high school and middle school level. For his work in wrestling, Glenn was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame- Florida Chapter in 2016 for lifetime service. He was selected as 2014 wrestling official of the year for Florida.
Glenn is an experienced deep sea fisherman, hunter and outdoors man. Glenn ran his own boat as a commercial fisherman at one time. Often, he still fishes offshore for grouper and snapper. He enjoys running on the beach, biking, and hiking out west.