An Unforgettable Friendship: Honoring Stan Waterman and His Underwater Realm

My wife has accused me of collecting interesting friends as a hobby.  I plead guilty as charged.  In 2000, I was tasked to find a keynote speaker for the Hudson Delaware Regional Chapter of SETAC (The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) annual meeting.  I decided to invite longtime Princeton resident, Stan Waterman to speak.  I gave him a call.  He immediately said yes, with one caveat, he wanted me to come over to his home and have lunch with him.  He wanted me to be able to introduce him to the attendees as a friend.I soon found out what a standout man Waterman was.  He wasn’t a loud man, didn’t drive an expensive car and didn’t live in a mansion.  He told me to call him Stan and we talked for quite a while in his relaxed office.  He told me that he hadn’t taken his wife and three kids to Tahiti to win 5 Emmies, but to share his underwater love with fellow Americans.  He accomplished both.  He told me how he grew up in wealth in Newark.  As a teen, he was gifted an Asian diving mask, attended Dartmouth as an English major and was mentored by Robert Frost.  Those two coupled events provided the world with a great communicator of what lies beneath the sea.Stan was such an easy person to be with.  When I told him my son was currently an English major, he called his buddy, Peter Benchley (author of Jaws, The Deep and other novels) and set up lunch for the four of us.  Stan would make sandwiches and Peter was to bring a batch of his homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Stan warned me that he, Benchley and my son, Garrett were all English majors and apologized ahead for probably putting marine biologist (me) at a conversational disadvantage.We talked about his famous documentaries, Blue Water White Death and The Man Who Loved Sharks.  When his buddy Peter’s book The Deep became a Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset movie, Benchley insisted Stan do all the underwater filming.  And he did.  He fears that he might have started the whole wet T-shirt contest fad in the United States.  Enough said about that.Stan passed earlier this month at the ripe old age of 100 and left a void for many mentored ocean lovers to continue his soft but articulate spoken love of the sea and all its creatures.  About 15 years ago, Aqua Survey named one of our research vessels after Stan, the RV Waterman.  I am glad we did.

Ken Hayes


Aqua Survey, Inc.

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