Jacques Cousteau, The Great Defender Of The Seas And Oceans

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On June 11, 1910, Jacques Cousteau was born, who became the most famous oceanographer in the world. With his books, films and series, Cousteau spread the value of life in the seas of the world and contributed to become aware of the importance of its conservation

Jacques Cousteau, the great defender of the seas and oceans

On June 11, 1910, Jacques Yves Cousteau was born, possibly the most famous explorer and oceanographer in the world, who thanks to his fantastic documentaries aboard the legendary ship Calypso, captivated spectators from all over the world, making them knowledgeable and participants in the wonders and secrets of the underwater world.

Cousteau’s fascination with the sea began very soon, and by chance. At four years of age, Jacques was a child with very fragile health, so the doctors recommended to his parents that the child avoid contact sports and practice swimming. From then on, Jacques Cousteau began to feel fascinated by everything related to the sea.

An idyll with the sea

When Jacques turned thirteen, his father gave him a camera to film, and although he was a simple model, the young man always took it with him and recorded everything around him. At twenty, Jacques enlisted in the French Naval Academy and graduated as an artillery officer, but an unfortunate accident in which he broke both arms, and in which he was even about to lose his life,forced him to change plans to become a naval pilot. During his convalescence, doctors again recommended that he practice swimming. This sport would transform him forever and made his passion for the sea unravel the first time he wore diving goggles like those used by Filipino pearl seekers.

The practice of swimming as a method of recovering from a terrible accident transformed the life of Jacques Cousteau forever.

The participation of Cousteau in the Second World War earned him several decorations -including the Legion of Honor- and even increased his passion for the sea and for filming. At that time he made his first film entitled A ten fathoms under water , and on July 12, 1937 he married Simone Melchior with whom he had two children, Jean-Michel (born in 1938) and Philippe (1940-1979).

After the war ended, the French navy wanted to take advantage of Cousteau’s knowledge of diving and organized an underwater expedition in the Mediterranean in search of a Roman ship, the Mahdia , which had been shipwrecked in the 1st century BC on the coasts of Tunisia. This was the first underwater archaeological expedition in history in which autonomous immersion devices designed by Cousteau himself and Emile Gagnan, a French engineer, were used. They baptized that device as like Acqua Lung (aquatic lung). A year later, Cousteau definitively left the navy to organize his own expeditions.

The Calypso

“It was there, between the boats and the battleships of the port of La Valletta, on the island of Malta, where I first saw it, I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it … I remember as if it were yesterday … but it was 1950! ” The boat that Cousteau spoke about was an old minesweeper that sank in Singapore and was towed to Marseille. The explorer immediately took hold of him and baptized him with the name of Calypso , like the nymph of the Homeric poem The Odyssey , he completely remodeled it and transformed it into the most popular oceanographic ship in the history of navigation. His first mission was the study of corals in an archipelago of the Red Sea.

“I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him … I remember like it was yesterday …” Cousteau told about the first time he saw the Calypso in Malta, destined to become the most famous oceanographic ship.

In 1953, Cousteau published El mundo del silencio , a book where he narrated his experiences and travels by sea. His figure as a promoter of the marine world culminated in 1956 with the film of the same name, directed by Louis Malle and with which he won the Palme d’Or of the Cannes Festival and, a year later, the Oscar.

Despite the success of his films and the publication of his books, Cousteau did not abandon his role as an inventor. In 1960 he presented the world with revolutionary “diving saucers”, small submarines shaped like a flying saucer to dive deeper. In 1963, the first submarine base was built, in which Cousteau stayed with a team of experts for 30 days.

The series that catapulted him to fame

But what really made Cousteau a world celebrity was the documentary series that aired from 1968 to 1975 called The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau . In it, the famous oceanographer explores the seas of the planet with the crew of the Calypso , showing the public the diversity and complexity of the underwater world and the life of the oceans. In 1968, National Geographic Society marked a milestone in the history of television by getting one of Cousteau’s documentaries entitled Amazonas to be seen by thirty-five million people.

Jacques Cousteau, The Great Defender Of The Seas And Oceans 1

Jacques Cousteau reviewing some archaeological gems found on the seabed of the Greek islands Photo: CordonPress

The documentary series The Underwater World by Jacques Cousteau catapulted him to fame. In it he showed to the general public the diversity of ocean life.

Between publications of books, film shoots and documentaries, Cousteau founded in 1974 with his children, the Cousteau Society , a foundation dedicated to the protection of ocean life. From this platform he denounced the devastating effects of abusive fishing, promoted mobilizations against nuclear energy and warned about the problems arising from overpopulation. Often described by other biologists as a communicator rather than a scientist, Cousteau was able to reach a profane audience with a love for the sea and the enormous diversity of life that floods it.

Jacques Cousteau, The Great Defender Of The Seas And Oceans

Jacques Cousteau achieved worldwide fame with the documentary series “The submarine world of Jacques Cousteau” issued between 1968 and 1975. Photo: CordonPress

On June 25, 1997, Captain Planeta, as he was known, went definitively to the “world of silence” because he did not overcome heart problems he had been suffering for some months. He was buried in his birthplace, Saint-André-de-Cubzac (France), and honored with a street and a commemorative plaque. For the memory they would be his words: “In the sea there is no past, present or future, only peace”.

Jacques Cousteau, The Great Defender Of The Seas And Oceans

Jacques Cousteau with his son Jean-Michel Cousteau Photo: CordonPress


Source: National Geographic