The Man of the Sea

Jacques Cousteau

Famous for his award-winning underwater films, television shows, and books that gave the world a view of life under the ocean, ecologist Jacques Cousteau was also a talented inventor and dedicated environmental activist.

Naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author, researcher . . . you could go on for pages about all of the things Jacques Cousteau did with his remarkable life!

Many people outside France don’t know that Costeau was a war hero; he led daring commando operations inside occupied France during World War II. And many may not know that he helped invent the modern aqualung—the SCUBA system that’s used around the world.

Most people remember Jacques Cousteau for his amazing films, television shows, and books about the ocean. On board his ship Calypso, Cousteau and his crew traveled the world to film their documentaries about the life that teems beneath the surface of the water.

In the 1950s and 60s, Cousteau’s films marked the first time the majority of people had ever seen footage of undersea life in its natural state. And it was the first time that the general public heard about the dangers of pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and other threats to the natural world.

Jacques Cousteau is credited with being one of the first popular ecologists, inspiring a whole generation of young people to be more aware of their environment.

His long career (Cousteau lived to age eighty-seven) contained many other amazing achievements:

  • The first underwater archaeology operation using autonomous diving;
  • Discovering how porpoises use natural sonar to guide themselves;
  • Winning the top prize at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival for his documentary The Silent World;
  • Organizing a successful campaign to stop the dumping of nuclear waste in the oceans; and
  • Winning a long list of awards and medals from grateful nations and organizations around the world.

Through more than 120 television documentaries and fifty books, Cousteau helped make science and nature popular topics for everyday people, and he left a legacy that carries on his work. The Cousteau Society he founded to protect the environment now has 300,000 members. As rich and famous as he became, Jacques Cousteau always said he was just a man trying to do his bit to help the world. “It takes generosity to discover the whole through others,” he said. “If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

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