Happy Birthday Jacques Cousteau


Jacques Cousteau’s Underworld Village in the Red Sea via BBC on YouTube

Legendary marine explorer, inventor, innovator, filmmaker and environmental activist Jacques Cousteau was born June 11, 1910 in Saint André de Cubzac, a small town in southwest France.

To mark the centennial of his birth, the Cousteau Society is launching a year-long celebration in Paris with Cousteau’s global legion of admirers, and welcomes proposals from around the world.

The re-launch and tour of Calypso, the ship aboard which Cousteau created many of the world’s first glimpses of deep-sea life, will highlight the end of the centennial in 2011.

Instantly recognizable by his red cap and gaunt silhouette, Cousteau was just 33 when he co-invented the aqualung that enabled divers to explore ocean depths for extended periods, opening a window to an entire world then virtually unknown to humankind.

He went on to pioneer many areas, including documenting the sonar-like capabilities of dolphins, public demonstrations to protect the oceans from radioactive dumping and over-exploitation, and mass communication of marine research through films and television.

In 1996, the year before his death at age 87, Cousteau’s historic Calypso was sunk and badly damaged when a barge in Singapore accidentally rammed it. Today the vessel is in the Brittany region of France being refurbished under the direction of the Cousteau Society and l’Equipe Cousteau, led by Francine Cousteau, widow of the late explorer.

Calypso will be re-purposed as a touring educational exhibition, to include the Cousteau-designed one- and two-person mini-submarines, the underwater scooters, aqualungs, diving suits, cameras and other emblematic equipment used during his expeditions, which earned him countless awards including Emmys, Oscars and the Palme d’Or of the Cannes Film Festival.

“In this year, the 100th anniversary of his birth, we owe it to his memory to ensure that the spirit of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his work inspires new generations,” says Pierre-Yves.

“The oceans occupy nearly 72% of our planet’s surface and they contain more than 97% of all our planet’s water. They are the place where life appeared 3.8 billion years ago and remain the largest living space in our known universe. Nevertheless, less than 20% has been explored by humans and we have already damaged most of it.” says Tarik Chekchak, the Cousteau Society’s Director, Science and Environment.

“Our research with UNESCO into how best to educate people and protect our oceans and indeed all our vital waterways is more necessary today than ever – as the tragic event unfolding this past month in Gulf of Mexico sadly demonstrates.”

Under Pierre-Yves’s leadership, the Cousteau Society is developing a monitoring program of the oceans, Cousteau Divers, which will involve the active participation of divers worldwide.

The public is invited to contribute to an online book of remembrances and appreciation at The Cousteau Society.

via The Cousteau Society

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