“Captain Eddie was great! Not only did we get to watch dolphins swim directly underneath us, we got a boat ride and lots of information about dolphins and the area in general. We snorkeled for shells and sand dollars, too. We spent about four hours on the boat and it was a very nice afternoon trip.”
The Water Planet team is proficient in marine ecology, seamanship, psychology, physical therapy, acupuncture/acupressure, moxa therapy, sensory toning therapeutic techniques like massage, watsu and wata, cranio sacral therapy, graphic 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.
Alexis Hart was an intern with us in August of 2017. She now works with Water Planet as their Therapeutic Programs and Internships Coordinator. She is originally from Georgia where she attended Kennesaw State University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology. She has completed behavioral research with Zoo Atlanta as well as assisted in teaching a college level course during her time at KSU. Alexis has always been an animal lover with the desire to be up close and personal with large mammals. Her love for the ocean, all its’ critters, and preference to swim rather than walk, has brought her to us with the hope that someday she will find a way to study and learn the behaviors of the ocean’s giants. She ultimately wishes that by teaching children in our programs conservation efforts and about the behaviors of wild animals, that she will be a part of the preservation of our planet for future generations. Alexis will be the link between the children’s families and our interns, she is facilitating their experience on the boats and during the therapeutic workshops. She is in charge of designing the activities for the Harmony Program and of training our interns and getting them ready to assist during the programs.
Chloe Hanson – Cooper
Chloe is a native of Forney, TX. She was an intern for Water Planet during the summer of 2013. Chloe is a graduate of LeTourneau University where she earned a bachelor’s of science in Kinesiology exercise science and a minor in psychology. She served as the Therapeutic Programs and Intern Coordinator for the years 2015, 16 and 17. She has relinquished her responsibilities at Water Planet to a new Coordinator and she has moved to Austin where she is preparing a Masters degree in occupational therapy. Chloe has started her own non-profit organization named Social Bridges. She also is a private behavioral therapist and works part time for Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School and Therapy Center as behavioral therapist.
Chloe has always had a special attraction to the ocean and children with special needs and loved serving with Water Planet to bring those two passions together. Along with Chloe’s passion for working with children, comes experience. Chloe has also served as a Program director at a summer camp for children with special needs in Bradenton, FL. as well as, worked as a swim lessons coordinator and specialized in integrated classes for children with special needs. Chloe is now a consultant on the Water Planet Advisory Board.
DeAnna has been involved with the Water Planet team since 2009 and is delighted to serve as a Therapeutic Programs Consultant. DeAnna was originally an Intern and then served as Therapeutic Programs and Intern Coordinator for 3 years. DeAnna pursued her Bachelor of Science degree from Wagner College in New York City in Psychology and Spanish and her Master of Education from Springfield College in Springfield, MA in Child Life and Therapeutic Recreation Management. Currently, DeAnna is pursing a doctorate in Human Development and Family Science and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Global Health at Syracuse University. DeAnna has obtained certifications as a Child Life Specialist (CCLS), Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), and is completing yoga instructor training this summer. DeAnna also serves as the Internship Coordinator for the Psychology-Child Life department at Utica College where she is excited to continue research, education, and programming that combines all of her interests.
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.
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.
Hide was born in Japan in 1962. He obtained a degree in economics at Josai University. At age 20 he started training in Chinese martial arts. He entered the Schools of Oriental Medical Science and Physical Therapy to study the human body mechanisms.
Hide is now licensed in physical therapy, acupuncture. Moxa therapy and massage therapy. He is also a WATSU practitioner.
In 1997, as he was working in a Hospital, Hide took a trip to Bahamas to swim with wild dolphins. He was so impressed by the experience that he started looking for a way to combine the powerful emotional impact of dolphin encounters with bodywork for more effective therapeutic results.
in 1999 he quit his job at the hospital and started his own clinic in Tokyo.
In the summer of 2000, Hide came to Florida to participate in a WATSU training/wild dolphin encounter seminar offered by Shantam Lenz. He was then introduced to Water Planet’s Serenity Program, which was exactly the dynamic he had been looking for. Since then, Hide flies from Tokyo every summer to participate in the Serenity Program. His deep knowledge of oriental medicine is a great asset to our program.
The Serenity Program combines the staff & resources of Unique Therapy Services (formerly Excellence in Therapy) and Water Planet
UTS (formerly Excellence in Therapy) is a privately owned pediatric therapy practice providing Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy services. Pam has over 25 years experience as a therapist working with children who have special needs. Services are provided in the child’s home, at our clinic, and in an aquatic setting.
Relying on her strong background in neurological & sensory training, Pam, who is NDT trained & certified, has endeavored to approach the therapeutic needs of children by incorporating special training / techniques such as Myofascial, cranio sacral, aquatics, and sensory integration into her practice. Her life long love of the water led her to develop the most unique aquatic therapy program that is serving over 100 children through their programs in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area. UTS has several licensed therapists on staff who, along with Pam, make our program successful through our unique, holistic therapeutic approach. Incorporating land & water based therapies with our excellent staff yields success in our children and changes their functional abilities.
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.
Eddie is originally from Athens, Georgia. He obtained his Master of Science Education degree from Mercer University, specializing in Marine Ecosystems, Biology, and Environmental Science.
Eddie served as Senior Intern and Dolphin Physiology and Behavior Instructor at the Human-Dolphin Institute (now Water Planet) in Panama City Beach. He now works as naturalist and senior captain at Water Planet.