Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Active - 1951 - 2021  |   Born - Jun 11, 1910   |   Died - Jun 25, 1997   |   Genres - Nature

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

One of the biggest contributions made by world-renowned oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau has been to introduce international audiences to the wonders of the sea and to instill in them a respectful reverence and understanding of the ocean. Cousteau was born in St.-André-de-Cubzac, near Bordeaux, France and received his education at the Brest Naval Academy. He served in the Navy as an officer during the mid '30s and revolutionized underwater exploration when he invented the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (also known as the aqualung). Cousteau began recording the undersea world with his specially designed underwater camera in 1942. In 1956, he released his first feature-length documentary Silent World, a film made in conjunction with Louis Malle. The documentary made a big splash at Cannes and earned him the "Palme D'Or." It also earned him an Oscar as did his second film World Without Sun (1964). In 1961, he acquired his research ship Calypso. Between 1968 and 1976, he made a popular series of television documentary specials The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, to chronicle his adventures and discoveries aboard the Calypso and to make his strong plea for conservation. Many of these documentaries are currently available on videotape through the National Geographic Society. On a sad note, Cousteau's beloved Calypso sank on January 11, 1996 in Singapore after being rammed by a barge. The ship had been slated for retirement, but Cousteau was profoundly grieved by the loss and efforts to replace her were soon underway. Jacques Cousteau died in his sleep on June 25, 1997; he was 87 years old.

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