Underwater Discovery and Adventure: The Story of Jacques Cousteau

Underwater Discovery and Adventure: The Story of Jacques Cousteau


Today would have been Jacques Cousteau’s 106th birthday. You might recognize him by his red hat and the soothing French accent as he described the wonders of the sea. But he also became an icon of ocean exploration
and environmental conservation. His inventions gave explorers new tools for
studying life underwater, and the films he produced and the organizations he founded
helped both protect that life, and ensure that researchers could continue learning about
it. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born in 1910 in
the south of France, and as a child, he developed a fascination with water. At the age of 20, he went off to the French
Naval Academy, where he planned to become a pilot. But after breaking both of his arms in a serious
car accident, he turned back to his interest in the sea. As a young Naval officer, together with engineer
Émile Gagnan, he created the Aqua Lung, which was the first self-contained underwater breathing
apparatus. The Aqua Lung was a type of diving regulator,
which changes the pressure of gas in a compressed cylinder so it can be easily breathed by
the diver. This invention allowed the two of them to
explore underwater more easily. After leaving the Navy, he went on to design
a diving saucer, the first submersible vehicle, or submarine, dedicated to scientific exploration.
It allowed two crew members to travel and film at depths of up to 350 meters. Cousteau also pioneered underwater research
facilities for housing so-called oceanauts, where they could work for weeks at a time
without returning to the surface. His three experiments, called Conshelf I,
II, and III, were conducted in the 1960s. Since then, they’ve helped prepare humans
for missions to extreme environments … like space. He also created a bunch of organizations dedicated
to exploring the oceans. When he left the Navy in 1949, for example,
Cousteau leased his now-famous ship the Calypso and turned it into a floating lab. This led him to create the French Oceanographic
Campaigns and he began diving and filming the seas, as well as conducting underwater
archaeological explorations of shipwrecks. He realized that he needed to get the public
interested in his work to find funding for his research, so he wrote his first book with
Frédéric Dumas in 1953, The Silent World. The book described his early adventures after
inventing the Aqua Lung and his exploration of shipwrecks. Cousteau’s careful observations also gave
him insight into new theories about the ocean and marine life. For example, in describing an interaction
with a pod of dolphins, he proposed that they used sonar, long before it was ever confirmed
by science. This book became so popular that Cousteau
adapted it into a documentary film, also titled The Silent World. And in 1956, this documentary won the Palme
D’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, the first time a documentary had ever won
the award, and later won an Oscar. He also ended up hosting a popular television series,
called the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. It was a documentary-style series that ran
from 1968 – 1975, and showed the adventures of Cousteau and his crew as they studied the
seas, focusing on the beauty and diversity of ocean life. As a young filmmaker, Cousteau was sometimes
more concerned with producing the best story, and there’s evidence that his crew may have
mistreated animals to get the perfect shot. But as his writing and films became more popular,
Cousteau began to recognize the detrimental effects of human activity on the ocean. During his expeditions, he began to notice
pollution in the waters, even thousands of miles away from land, and he saw less diversity
among the sea life. He understood his own failings as an adventurer,
and later insisted on leaving in video clips from earlier films that showed his crew killing
sea life. Over the course of his life, Cousteau became
involved in a lot of scientific institutions dedicated to studying and exploring the sea,
as well as conservation groups aimed at protecting the oceans and marine biodiversity. In 1960, for example, he worked to rally public
support and convince politicians to stop a huge dump of radioactive waste into the Mediterranean
Sea. And in 1973, he founded the Cousteau Society
for the Protection of Ocean Life, an organization that is still active today, and aims to teach
people about our oceans and their ecosystems. He also helped restrict commercial whaling
by putting pressure on heads of state, which led the International Whaling Commision to
ban killing whales for commercial purposes in 1986. Cousteau’s outreach and the organizations
he helped create helped both scientists and the general public learn more about the beauty
of the vast, strange underwater world. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
and thank you especially to our patrons on patreon, who help make this show possible. If you
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100 thoughts on “Underwater Discovery and Adventure: The Story of Jacques Cousteau”

  1. I had first heard his name in an old Blue Öyster Cult song called Perfect Water and while I didn't like it that much I was curious who he was so I looked him up and became fascinated in him.

  2. My grand-children go to the International Jacques Cousteau school here in North Vancouver! Many thanks for this historical overview!

  3. There is still A LOT to learn from the world's ocean. So much is still unexplored. As it turns it, it may also be very likely that many previously undiscovered cities may be located in the immediate areas of the world's coastlines. The world's ocean have been rising since the end of the last ice age, so plenty to do for all the budding tomb raiders out there!

  4. Now I see a similaritiy between a volcano explorer Maurice Kraft and ocean explorerJacques Cousteau because of a red hat ^^
    I wouldnt be surprised that the first one was inspired by the second…

  5. Why do you make the narrative so annoying by cutting away the short natural pause between sentences? This makes the next sentence stumble into the previous.
    As one of your many non native english speaking subscribers I find this very very very irritating and makes it difficult to follow along.

    Can you please explain why this is necessary? Is it a US thing originating from TV productions where they must cramp in so much info in so short time between commercials every 2-3 minutes?

    Even though I like most of your videos I will from now on click dislike on every new video you publish until you stop this nonsense, and I suggest everybody that agree with me to do the same.

  6. I still have some stickers from Cousteau Society… it would be great if anyone recognizes it too

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DenysSene/posts/969nTrq1Pft

  7. I've always been proud to share a birthday with such a cool person! He's a whole 88 years older than me, but still! 🎂 😊

  8. I used to read all of his comic books when I was young, I really liked the 2 about the wreck of Antikythera expedition.

  9. you forgot to mention after he discovered the Thistlegorn in the Red sea and pillaging it, he cut the masts off to stop anyone else finding it…..Yes he did alot of good work, but he was also stole alot.

  10. He died of a heart attack, his heart gave up on him. He is very old by then, 87 to be exact.

    That is why we need more scientists to find the cure to reverse aging, aging is killing all the good people in this world!!!

  11. James Gravestock Snee

    AHHHH! My dad was in an airport with him but didn't ask for a signature because all the staff were bugging him, and now he says it's one of his only regrets (My dad is a dedicated scuba diver).

  12. I met Jean Cousteau, his son. He came to my college and gave us a lecture on ocean pollution, he was a really nice guy.

  13. JohnIsSuperAwesome

    i remember watching the episode where he explores the wreck of the HMHS Britannic when i was 9 and i fell in love with his series. i've accumulated at least half a dozen encyclopedias about the oceans, aquatic discoveries, and marine life over the years, all thanks to Couteau.

  14. I think I've seen just about all of Jacques Cousteau documentaries..
    He was one hell of a storyteller and an underwater investigator. I'll never
    forget his contributions to the sea world.

  15. I hate to nitpick but his show ran far longer than just a couple of years. I saw it in rerun with Dr Who and the like on PBS and I loved listening to him describe the ocean. I have so much deep affection for him and his efforts ((Imperfect as they sometimes were).

  16. Apart from "exploring" and "protecting sea life" a big motivation behind undersea expeditions is finding valuable treasures and artifacts. Imagine the amount of precious items that sunk at the bottom of the sea during hundreds of years of navigation. And imagine how many details of these expeditions are never revealed to the public. Who and why is financing them anyway?

  17. Once upon a time (before personal computers, the Internet, cell phones), I recall seeing "The Silent World" in the school library. (You know, those places where you find BOOKS.;) I bought the paperback book via the Scholastic Book Club and read it until the pages fell apart. Then I bought another. I didn't see the movie version of the book until some time later, since I lived in a small sugar plantation town. I've seen it from time to time along with episodes of "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau." It is unfortunate that the oceans of the world are as mysterious now as they used to be in the 1950's. (At least there are "Coelacanths" to find and giant squid to marvel at, with the occasional Oarfish freaking out the public.;)

  18. He did not lease the Calypso. It was a converted mine sweeper donated by a millionaire..He mas the Director of the prestigious Monaco Oceanographic Museum.

  19. He did Kill and eat from the Sea, but saying it was Abuse is taking it waaaay beyond any Reality, espesially at while at Sea !

  20. I lost all respect for cousteau in his silent world his ship hit a baby whale killed it sliced with his propeller it bled very much they shot it to kill it when sharks came to eat like sharks doo his crew lost it killed fifty sharks very brutally they used back of axes blunt force they pulled them out by their gills ripping and tearing cousteau watched it all never stopped it they blamed the sharks when if they hadnt forced their way into the pod with their ship the baby whale would have lived and all those sharks too they just before rammed a whale hyrt it wen their family came to gelp cousteau killed a baby with the prop of his damn ship making a huge amount of dark blood i hate the man now forever i watch them tease sealife blame sharks as scavengers and a divers enemy ya riggt welcome to the 21st century

  21. Oh and starfish are a lower uninteresting life as he put it if it wasnt up to his standards as worth saving they were termed worthless as we all know life is a chain take one link out it will fail and break

  22. I loved watching J.C. tv show reruns when I got up for school early in the morning. I'd always get up a few minutes early to catch him, and I often watched so long I would be late for school.

  23. I once asked Jacques his real name. I thought he said Jock. So I asked him: Hmmm, is your last name Strap. He's never talked to me since.
    .

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