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Explorer Jacques Cousteau and CalypsoMad Dog Diving / Jacques Cousteau

A page about the great Explorer/inventor, Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau & the professional crew onboard the research vessel Calypso, unlocked the mysteries of the sea for tens of millions of TV viewers in the 1960s and 1970s with his riveting documentary series, "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau."

Invention of scuba gear by Jacques Cousteau
Jacques Cousteau co-invented the Aqua-Lung, a breathing device for scuba-diving. Aqua-Lung was the original English name of the first open-circuit, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (or "SCUBA") to reach worldwide popularity and commercial success. This class of equipment is now commonly referred to as a diving regulator or demand valve. The Aqua-Lung was invented in Paris during the winter of 1942–1943 by the engineer Émile Gagnan and the lieutenant de vaisseau (ship-of-the-line lieutenant) Jacques Cousteau.

Explorer Jacques Cousteau & the research vessel Calypso
In 1950, Jacques Cousteau founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns (FOC), and leased a ex navy ship called "Calypso" from Thomas Loel Guinness for a symbolic one franc a year. Cousteau refitted the Calypso as a mobile laboratory/research vessel for field research and as his principal vessel for diving and filming. He also carried out underwater archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean, in particular at Grand-Congloué (1952).

Information about Jacques Cousteau's research vessel Calypso

With the publication of his first book in 1953, The Silent World, he correctly predicted the existence of the echolocation abilities of porpoises. He reported that his research vessel, the Élie Monier, was heading to the Straits of Gibraltar and noticed a group of porpoises following them. Cousteau changed course a few degrees off the optimal course to the center of the strait, and the porpoises followed for a few minutes, then diverged toward mid-channel again. It was evident that they knew where the optimal course lay, even if the humans did not. Cousteau concluded that the cetaceans had something like sonar, which was a relatively new feature on submarines.

Jacques Cousteau won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956 for 86 minute film The Silent World co-produced with Louis Malle. With the assistance of Jean Mollard, he made a "diving saucer" SP-350, an experimental underwater vehicle which could reach a depth of 350 meters. The successful experiment was quickly repeated in 1965 with two vehicles which reached 500 meters.

In October 1960, a large amount of radioactive waste was going to be discarded in the Mediterranean Sea by the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA). The CEA argued that the dumps were experimental in nature, and that French oceanographers such as Vsevelod Romanovsky had recommended it. Romanovsky and other French scientists, including Louis Fage and Jacques Cousteau, repudiated the claim, saying that Romanovsky had in mind a much smaller amount. The CEA claimed that there was little circulation (and hence little need for concern) at the dump site between Nice and Corsica, but French public opinion sided with the oceanographers rather than with the CEA atomic energy scientists. The CEA chief, Francis Perrin, decided to postpone the dump. Jacques Cousteau organized a publicity campaign which in less than two weeks gained wide popular support. The train carrying the waste was stopped by women and children sitting on the railway tracks, and it was sent back to its origin.

Jacques Cousteau on the Calypso.
A meeting with American television companies (ABC, Métromédia, NBC) created the series The Underwater Odyssey of Commander Cousteau, with the character of the commander in the red bonnet (Red wool cap) inherited from standard diving dress) intended to give the films a "personalized adventure" style.

In 1970, Jacques Cousteau wrote the book The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea with Philippe Cousteau, his son. In this book, Jacques Cousteau described the oceanic white tip shark as "the most dangerous of all sharks".

In 1973, along with his two sons and Frederick Hyman, he created the Cousteau Society for the Protection of Ocean Life, Frederick Hyman being its first President; it now has more than 300,000 members.

Three years after the volcano's last eruption, on 19 December 1973, the Cousteau team was filming on Deception Island, Antarctica when Michel Laval, Calypso's second in command, was struck and killed by a propeller of the helicopter that was ferrying between Calypso and the island.

In 1976, Jacques Cousteau uncovered the wreck of HMHS Britannic. He also found the wreck of the French 17th-century ship-of-the-line La Therese in coastal waters of Crete.

In 1977, together with Peter Scott, he received the UN International Environment prize.

On 28 June 1979, while the Calypso was on an expedition to Portugal, his second son, Philippe Cousteau, his preferred and designated successor and with whom he had co-produced all his films since 1969, died in a PBY Catalina flying boat crash in the Tagus river near Lisbon. Cousteau was deeply affected. He called his then eldest son, the architect Jean-Michel Cousteau, to his side. This collaboration lasted 14 years.

In 1975 John Denver released the tribute song "Calypso" on his album "Windsong", and on the B-side of his hit song "I'm Sorry". "Calypso" became a hit on its own and was later considered the new A-side, reaching #2 on the charts.

Source: Parts from Wikipedia

Important Jacques Cousteau related links:

 • 
Information about Jacques Cousteau's research vessel Calypso

 • The Cousteau Society

 • Jacques Cousteau videos: Watch free Jacques Cousteau videos on YouTube

 • Jacques Cousteau (Wikipedia)

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