Who Is Jacques Cousteau and What Is He Known For?
Jacques Cousteau, born in France in 1910, primarily dedicated his life to researching and exploring the world’s oceans. Cousteau excelled in many fields throughout his life. While leading many undersea expeditions, he also devoted time to underwater photography and making documentary films and television series about marine life. As if that weren’t enough, Cousteau also invented several devices to aid his undersea explorations.
Cousteau’s love of the sea began as a child and continued as a member of the French Navy. During World War II, his underwater research led him to collaborate with French engineer Emile Gagnan to invent the Aqua-Lung, a breathing device that allowed scuba divers to stay underwater for extended periods of time.
In 1945, Cousteau started the French Navy’s undersea research group. Working with others, he helped to develop several other important devices, including a diving saucer and waterproof cameras. With these inventions, he was able to make his first two documentaries about underwater exploration: 18 Meters Deepand Shipwrecks.
Cousteau acquired a former British minesweeper in 1950 and converted it into an oceanographic research vessel he named Calypso. He began to use Calypso to make annual trips to explore the world’s oceans. He documented many of these trips on his famous television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. To help finance his voyages and bring media attention to the need for conservation efforts to protect the world’s oceans and marine life, Cousteau wrote several books and produced a variety of documentary films and television series, including The Silent World.
Cousteau’s legacy includes more than 120 television documentaries, more than 50 books, and an environmental protection foundation with 300,000 members. Cousteau liked to call himself an “oceanographic technician.” He was, in reality, a sophisticated showman, teacher, and lover of nature. His work permitted many people to explore the resources of the oceans.
His work also created a new kind of scientific communication, criticized at the time by some academics. The so-called “divulgationism”, a simple way of sharing scientific concepts, was soon employed in other disciplines and became one of the most important characteristics of modern television broadcasting.
Cousteau’s fame allowed him to start the Cousteau Society in 1973. Through this organization, he was able to raise awareness of ocean ecosystems and the need to protect them. In 1996, Calypso accidentally sank in Singapore Harbor after being hit by a barge. Cousteau tried to raise money to build a new ship, but he died unexpectedly in Paris in 1997 at the age of 87.
He died on 25 June 1997 in Paris, 2 weeks after his 87th birthday. He was buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac, his birthplace, homage was paid to him by the town by naming the street which runs out to the house of his birth “rue du Commandant Cousteau”, where a commemorative plaque was placed.