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Jacques Cousteau

Updated on July 9, 2013

Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Ocean Explorer, Conservationist and Father of Modern Scuba

He may have been the most famous undersea explorer of our time. At the time of Jacques Cousteau's death, CNN remembered Captain Cousteau by saying, "For millions of people who see the ocean only through the porthole of television, the voice of the sea had a soft French accent." Indeed, Cousteau brought the undersea world to millions through books and films, and also helped thousands to enjoy the undersea world themselves as the co-inventor of the Aqua-Lung, which was the precursor to modern scuba diving equipment. He also helped others bring the beauty of the ocean back in pictures; Cousteau was the person who envisioned the Calypso camera, the underwater camera that was later acquired by Nikon and became the famous Nikonos underwater cameras. In these ways, Jacques Cousteau was responsible for bringing the beauties of the ocean to the general public.

(Image from the book Jacques Cousteau: Conserving Underwater Worlds (In the Footsteps of Explorers), available on Amazon)

- The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.

- No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.

- Mankind has probably done more damage to the Earth in the 20th century than in all of previous human history.

- The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

- A lot of people attack the sea. I make love to it.

jacques cousteau silent world
jacques cousteau silent world

A Brief Biography of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau

An inventor, author, filmmaker and ecologist

Jacques Cousteau was born in June 1910 Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde, France. He became a French naval officer, but his career in naval aviation was cut short due to a car accident. He then turned his full interests to the sea. In 1943, he and two others shared a prize from the Congress of Documentary Film in 1943 for creating the first French underwater film: Par dix-huit mètres de fond (18 meters deep). The film was made using a depth-pressure-proof camera case, but without underwater breathing gear. Cousteau had found his passion.

His next film, Ãpaves (Shipwrecks), was made using the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes, which Cousteau helped develop. The Aqua-Lung allowed divers to breathe underwater with an on-demand air valve. It revolutionized diving, which previously had been done with bulky and heavy diving helmets that didn't allow for much time underwater or for very deep dives. The Aqua-Lung made it possible for divers to go deeper and for longer period and led to the development of modern scuba.

Cousteau left the French Navy in 1949 and founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns (FOC) the next year. He leased a ship known as the Calypso, and then set out to explore the ocean. Cousteau published his first book, The Silent Ocean, in 1953, in which he identified the echolocation abilities of dolphins. The movie was the later the basis for an Academy Award-winning documentary by the same name.

In 1957, Cousteau became the director of the Oceanographical Museum of Monaco and he continued his undersea explorations. He continued to write books and create underwater documentaries and during his lifetime created 120 television documentaries, more than 50 books, and an environmental protection foundation with 300,000 members. He also racked up a number of awards and honors.

Jacques Cousteau died in June 1997, but his legacy continues on.

Jacques Cousteau Biography for Kids - Read more about this fascinating explorer

Sterling Biographies®: Jacques Cousteau: A Life Under the Sea
Sterling Biographies®: Jacques Cousteau: A Life Under the Sea

Kids will savor this fascinating trip into the life and undersea world of pioneering oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. In his quest to show off the beauty found below the waves, Cousteau dedicated himself to developing new diving technology, inventing innovative ways to photograph underwater life, and traveling the globe to explore different bodies of water. His films, including The Academy Award(R)-winning The Silent World, opened people’s eyes to a formerly unknown and spectacular marine universe. Cousteau did more than anyone to enlighten us to the stunning complexity of the oceans’ ecology, and the importance of preserving it.

 

"People protect what they love."

- Jacques Cousteau

The Cousteau Society

Nonprofit organization founded by Captain Cousteau

The Cousteau Society is a nonprofit organization started by Captain Cousteau in 1974 and dedicated to the "protection and improvement of the quality of life for present and future generations."

"The Society believes that only an informed and educated public can make the decisions necessary to protect and manage the world's natural resources," according to ther Society website. "Education efforts directed toward members, classrooms and the general population include membership publications Calypso Log and Cousteau Kids, individual information packets on a variety of environmental subjects, statements on developing issues, participation in special events and the innovative Cousteau in the Classroom program, to date reaching over 111,000 students in more than 2,200 classrooms. The Cousteau Society is also working to expand its presence on the Internet to make its 30 years of informative material more readily available to a global audience."

Help Save the Oceans - For Free!

A simple click of your mouse can help save the oceans Cousteau cherished

If you're an ocean lover, Care2.com's Race for the Oceans is a site you'll want to visit and bookmark. It's a quick, easy way to help save our oceans.

Simply visit the site and click the "Click to Help" button. When you do, a donation will be generated for Oceana's ocean protection programs. Contributions are funded by advertisers who have agreed to pay for clicks in exchange for being featuring on the Race for the Oceans. 100% of the net revenues are donated to Oceana, a nonprofit organization working to save the world's oceans.

In His Own Words - Cousteau on Conservation

The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World
The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World

From Amazon: Believing that "people will protect what they love," pioneering marine explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau (1910–97) set out to make humankind fall in love with the sea, the crucible of life. A man of sangfroid, conviction, courage, ingenuity, and perception, Cousteau not only was the preeminent guide to the surpassing beauty and mystery of the deep but also became a tireless defender of the watery realm. With the help of Schiefelbein, who wrote the narration for a number of his award-winning documentaries, Cousteau completed this defining and superlative chronicle the year before his death, and although it has taken a decade for it to reach America, it is fresh and stinging, replete with an anchoring foreword by Bill McKibben and Schiefelbein's vivid introduction and informative epilogue. Cousteau seamlessly splices amazing tales of exploring undersea caves, encountering sharks, and surviving an Antarctic blizzard with bracing eyewitness accounts of the shockingly rapid and potentially catastrophic destruction of marine life.

 

Captain Cousteau's son Jean-Michael served as Executive Vice President of the Cousteau Society, the nonprofit organization his father started, for nearly 20 years. He left the organization and founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999. The society describes itself as a"non-profit marine conservation and education organization (that) serves as a voice for the ocean by communicating in all media the critical bond between people and the sea and the importance of wise environmental policy... As Ocean Futures' leader, Jean-Michel serves as an impassioned diplomat for the environment, reaching out to the public through a variety of media."

Jacques Cousteau DVDs - Go under the sea with Captain Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was known for his amazing undersea videos and photography. These DVDs will take you below the oceans with the famed explorer.

What's your opinion of Jacques Cousteau?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I just did sorry we have some new staff

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes we in fact are still in existence the Cousteau society works with a small staff so when you lose a member you also lose some of there know age as when we all lost the capton Cousteau

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      so glad he showed us the things he did before they are gone for ever which will be soon at present rates

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      After 4 months I cannot believe no one has responded to my previous query. Is anyone out there?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Is the Cousteau Society still in existence? They do not return emails and the phone number listed on their website is disconnected.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN AND COME TO LOVE THE OCEAN AS I DID IF IT WEREN'T FOR ME WATCHING HIM AS A CHILD. WHEN HE IS RESURRECTED HE IS GOING TO REALLY ENJOY TO AWESOME OCEAN OUR GRAND CREATOR MADE!

    • profile image

      chris1402 5 years ago

      I always used to watch his tv shows as a kid.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      ITS REALLY AMAZING THAT CMNDT JYC WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN,

      ACTUALLY HE LEAVES IN OUR HEART FOR EVER I MET HIM IN 1976 ONBOARD CALYPSO IN PIRAEUS AND IN 1981 FLYING FROM SHARLOTS

      TO NEW YORK .HE WAS REALLY WITH HIS WIFE AND ALL CREW OF CALYPSO THOSE DAYS A REALLY NOBLE MAN, AND ITS WITH A LOT OF

      EMOTION REMEMBERING HIM, HE WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR EVER

      OF ALL MANKIND. SAILING FOR INTERNETY WITH CALYPSO..

      WITH RESPECTS

      CPTN. ALBERT DENNIS DAWSON ATHENS GREECE.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Good recap of his life. I remember watching these nature shows before nature shows were cool.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      He was a wonderful defender of the seas long before it became popular to care about our oceans. Many dangers he spoke about are coming true in these days of pollution and carelessness. He was a man I greatly admired. Thank you for sharing his story. Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Loved him as a child and teenager, wish he were still with us.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: he wrote books and other stuff that people saw and read

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi

      >Have just returned from holiday in Monaco and the Ligurian coast of Italy. We tried to find and locate Jaques Costeau's diving saucer, but had forgotten where it is!! Can anyone help????

      Connie

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      Your lens is very informative, well done!

    • bowfishing lm profile image

      bowfishing lm 6 years ago

      Being a commercial diver myself this lens helps a lot. I Like seeing all the underwater pictures. Makes me miss my work in the off season.

    • profile image

      saltwterwoman 6 years ago

      Am trying to track down information regarding The reports os the rediscovery of Atlantis off the coast of Australia in the Barring straight between Tasmania and the mainland.The one report stated that this halted Iemma's plan to build a desalination plant off the coast.as Greece claimed Atlantis as belonging to them All attempts to google Iemmas plans have lead me to a site in Athens but I cannot google original report

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i wuz here :P

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      How did Jacques Cousteau become famous?????

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      what would it be like with out scuba

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      its great that he invented scuba what woud it be like without it

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Glad it helped. Good luck with your project.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i think it was a great story and very helpful for my 7th grade (at wcms) project also i to want to be an oceanographer

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Jacques Cousteau is the reason why I got my degree in biology at the University of Guam and was working toward an MS in marine biology at the UOG graduate school! After living and working near the ocean, you'll never want to be landlocked again! Very nice lens--a nice tribute to Jacques Cousteau! This beautiful lens of yours has been "thumbs-upped", favorited, liked, and lensrolled to my lens on marine biology and my other oceanic-related lenses!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: jodielp

      I have a whole set of the encyclopedias. I can be reached at gion56@hotmail.com.

      They are just sitting around boxed up. Was wondering what to do with them. Send me an email. I became a SCUBA Instructor and ran my own organization for awhile, because I hoped to teach many people how to dive and enjoy the world of Captain Cousteau.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Jacques Cousteau is the reason I am an Advanced Open water diver today. I grew up watching the specials on TV. When I am diving I am looking for the Jacques Cousteau experience. He taught us all that the ocean is to be loved and respected.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Iam 52 years old I watched Jacques as a young boy I loved his show I have a world of respect for this man I would like to thank TCM for running his programs god bless

      MR JACQUES COUSTEAU!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Iam 52 years old I watched Jacques as a young boy I loved his show I have a world of respect for this man I would like to thank TCM for running his programs god bless

      MR JACQUES COUSTEAU!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      im 12 and im an setting a goal to become a marine bioligist and jacque is my idol thanks for the great story.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      and he is the man. i forgot to add that in.[in reply to jacques]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i am also doing this project on my main man Jacques Cousteau

    • TopStyleTravel profile image

      TopStyleTravel 8 years ago

      Jacques Cousteau was a great man. Great info and pictures. Love the coral reef photo. I followed him for years. One of his last documentaries on his life was one of the best I had seen. I learned that his only regret was his expedition to find oil in the Persian Gulf in 1954. He did not realize so much strife would result from that.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      wow i really like jacques! i am doing an assignment on him. thaks seeyahh! XOXOX

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Jacques Cousteau is AWESOME

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I drew a mural for our science class bulletin board using his encyclopedias The undersea world of Jacques Cousteau.as a reference. I had the whole set of books. they were lost in a move. I wish I could find another set.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group

      Lizzy

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining the group for A Day of Hope!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i am only 12 an have been dreaming of becoming a marin biologist since i was 4, Jacques Cousteau is my hero☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Jacques Cousteau, like John Audubon, brought their passion to the forefront for the world to see.

      You wrote a wonderful tribute to a great man.

      Lizzy

    • Sheona profile image

      Sheona 9 years ago

      Great lens, Jacques Cousteau is legend and this helps his cause live on. Good job. 5*

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      I used to love watching his shows! Thanks for the memories! I'd nearly forgotten all about him.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 9 years ago

      I used to love to watch him he was in love with the ocean.. I miss the ocean myself great lens

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 9 years ago

      I used to love watching Jacques Cousteau as a kid. He's part of the reason, I became a certified diver. 5* for a great lens.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 9 years ago

      I met Jacques Cousteau many years ago, he gave me his autograph which I lost through one of my moves...I believe the Ocean has many solutions to our earthly problems including the cure for many diseases...it is an untapped world below the ocean beds....5*s

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 9 years ago from New York

      The ocean has always been a huge part of my life and Jacques Cousteau was a pioneer in all of the things that he did to create awareness in man's destruction of our oceans. He opened up this world of wonder to many that had never been exposed to it before. He is most definitely one of my heroes! Great job and a well deserved 5 *

      Big Island of Hawaii

    • Karendelac profile image

      Karendelac 10 years ago

      I am passionate about the worlds oceans and your lens is a solid 5 stars. I have just completed a State-of-the-Art Titanic Lens ~~ Please click on Karendelac above, to view it.