A specialist in underwater photography, Mike deGruy’s career at the forefront of marine filmmaking has taken him to some of the world’s most isolated and spectacular locations.
Born in Alabama, Mike’s interest in the ocean began at a very young age and he started SCUBA diving aged 12. Entering North Carolina State University on a diving scholarship he studied zoology, concentrating on marine science. While studying for his PhD Mike leapt at the chance to manage a marine lab in the Marshall Islands, in the western Pacific Ocean.
It was here he was employed by Arthur Jones, founder of the exercise equipment giant Nautilus, to record the living fossil, nautilus (from which the company’s name originates). His love of filmmaking was born and he abandoned his PhD to pursue a career in wildlife cinematography, setting up his own company The Film Crew Inc. in 1979.
Based in Hawaii, he produced two films for the BBC, Aliens From Inner Space (1983) and Nautilus: 500 Million Years Under The Sea (1987) both of which were aired on the Corporation’s Wildlife On One strand. Then employed as a freelance cameraman for the BBC he worked extensively on many major David Attenborough series, including; The Living Planet (1984), Life in the Freezer (1993), The Blue Planet (2000) and The Life of Mammals (2002). His incredible footage of killer whales launching themselves up the beach after sea lion pups in Patagonia for Trials of Life (1990) was met with international acclaim and the episode it featured in, Hunting and Escaping, won the Revelation category at Wildscreen, 1992.
Early in his career Mike was attacked and scarred by a shark but 1989 saw him attempting to dispel the misconceptions surrounding them in his film, Sharks: On Their Best Behaviour. The film marked the start of his working relationship with National Geographic and since then he has collaborated on numerous projects including the Emmy-nominated production, Tempest of the Deep (1999).
Mike’s major passion, and the subject of much of his work, is the cephalopod family. In 1996, together with wife Mimi, he made Incredible Suckers, a fifty minute celebration of this fascinating class of creatures. Trained in the operation of small submersibles, he has filmed at depths exceeding 10,000 feet and filmed many species never recorded in the wild before, including nautilus and the vampire squid.
Mike was still heavily involved in the wildlife filming community, hosting programmes for the Discovery Channel, continuing with his marine filming and sitting on three film boards in his home of Santa Barbara right up until he died in a helicopter crash In Australia