Meet Ocean Explorer Logan Ossentjuk

Meet Ocean Explorer Logan Ossentjuk
Ocean Exploration Trust

OET is proud to welcome Logan Ossentjuk to the Corps of Exploration as part of the Science & Engineering Internship Program. This internship program supports community college, undergraduate, and graduate students in building professional workforce experience and exploring STEM-related careers that connect to research themes like robotics, ocean science, education, and exploration. Logan is joining E/V Nautilus for two expeditions as a video engineering intern.

We sat with Logan to learn more about his experience at sea and the path that led him to Nautilus.

Where did you grow up? What were some of the biggest influences in your life as a young kid?

I grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado – we were out in the wilderness, basically the middle of nowhere. It was a 45-minute drive to school. I spent my entire childhood digging in the dirt and going sledding and building igloos. I spent tons of time outside – going skiing and doing all the outdoor stuff that Colorado kids do. 

But almost every summer, I went to California to family there and spent a lot of time around the ocean. When I was three years old, my family took us to Kauai and took me into the surf on a little pink boogie board with a big porthole in the middle of it. The locals told us to drop Fritos in the water, and as soon as we did, I looked through the porthole and saw more fish in the water than I’d ever seen in my life. It was the first time I was ever fascinated by what was around me. 

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I always wanted to be a marine biologist. I got my scuba certification in eighth grade, and that really cemented my love of the ocean. 

I based my college choice on a scholarship I received. I spent all of high school volunteering, and I helped start a non-profit called Colorado Young Leaders, which was focused on service leadership. The mentality was that being a leader isn’t about leading, it’s about bringing everyone with you. Through all of that, I ended up going to Seattle University on a service-based scholarship. While I was there, I spent a lot of time doing community service and figuring out how to be a good leader and a good advocate. I was one of four marine and conservation biology majors in my year. It was a good program, but it was really small. 

How did you get into film?
In a way, I just stumbled into it. In another way, it was always there. My mom is a photographer, and I played around with her camera a lot as a little kid. Then when I got to college, one of my first required courses was “Intro to Video Art”, which allowed me to express myself in a new way. I loved the creative process of it. 

I also attribute a lot of falling in love with film to growing up watching Blue Planet and Planet Earth. I’ve always appreciated how powerful film can be in sharing stories across the world. You can’t necessarily go to all these different places, but you can still experience them through video and film. 

How and why did you decide to go to grad school?

It was a combination of the pandemic and the kinds of job opportunities I wanted to pursue. I figured out pretty quickly that I couldn’t make the salary I wanted with the degree I got. I also really wanted to jump-start my knowledge of how to be a better storyteller and camera operator. One of my friends found a program at Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara that was focused on ocean advocacy and management. It was the only grad school I applied to, and I told myself if I got accepted, I would go – and I did.

I learned so much about science, conservation, and really strong communication skills. There are a lot of people who come out of that program and do science communication, and natural history filmmaking – exactly the type of career I want to have.  

The biggest thing I learned during the program was the value of teamwork and collaboration. In contrast to my undergraduate science degree, where everything was very individual, everything at Bren was about teamwork. 

How did you find out about Nautilus?

My undergrad advisor saw the passion I had for combining science, communication, and film and asked if I knew about Nautilus Live. When I looked into it, I realized all these videos I had been looking at were captured by them. As I learned more about Nautilus and the Ocean Exploration Trust, it seemed like the perfect combination of people who care about the environment, want to discover new things, and share them with others. Hoping that someone seeing a video clip of a dumbo octopus for the first time they would care more about the ocean. Turn the wonder and fascination into advocacy. 

What’s it been like to go to sea and work on a research vessel for the first time?

It feels like a dream come true. Walking into the van for the first time was like walking into a magical world that I’ve been dreaming about forever. It’s been really interesting to peel back those layers of fascination to learn how the systems actually works. It looks really crazy and intimidating, but it’s just a system that you learn. 

You’re staying onboard for the next expedition. What are you most excited about?
I’m excited about getting the hands-on experience of operating cameras during ROV dives. We’ll be working in an area near Johnston Atoll where no one has conducted ROV operations before – being able to explore an area for the first time and capture footage that no one has seen before is an incredible opportunity.