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HomeSportsJacques-Yves Cousteau: his incredible life and 5 principles that helped build it

Jacques-Yves Cousteau: his incredible life and 5 principles that helped build it

Date: May 30, 2024 Time: 20:06:09

His name is known to everyone in France. It is a legend among explorers of the ocean depths. Many documentaries have been made about him. Two works “A world without sun” and “In a world of silence” even won an Oscar.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau is called a legend, because thanks to him it was possible to plunge into the depths. And this is only a small part of his merits. We remember the interesting life of an ordinary French officer who dreamed of the ocean.

childhood and youth

The legendary explorer of the ocean depths was born on June 11, 1910 in the south of France. His father worked as a lawyer in the office, his mother was the daughter of a pharmacist. He decided not to continue the family business, but to concentrate on taking care of the children. In addition to Jacques-Yves, his older brother Pierre-Antoine also grew up in the family.

The legal business brought a good income to the family. This allowed me to travel a lot. They chose trips to the sea, where the boy learned to dive into the depths. And so the love for diving was born. Although the doctors forbade him to swim due to chronic enteritis (inflammatory-dystrophic pathology).

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Photo: Marka/Getty Images

During World War I, due to unemployment, the family was forced to move to the United States. When the future oceanographer was 12 years old, they returned to France. Jacques-Yves was admitted to an authorized educational institution – Stanislas College in Paris. Here he became interested in the invention. The young man himself rode an electric car.

At the age of 20, after graduating from the Naval Academy, Cousteau was promoted to junior lieutenant. He was sent to a base in China. The young man dreamed of aviation and planned to work in this area. However, the consequences of a car accident (fractures in both hands) did not allow the plan to come true.

However, Jacques-Yves did not want to say goodbye to his military career. He went to serve in the Navy. It was here that the explorer became interested in deep diving.

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Where does the interest in diving come from?

During his service, Cousteau participated in expeditions. Stopping in Vietnam, Jacques-Yves saw pearl divers. They dove into the water without any equipment. It was this small event that became decisive in his life. Returning after the trip, the future oceanographer went to study as an instructor and seriously took up diving.

His potential as an inventor soon began to show. Since salt water strongly irritated the mucous membrane of the eyes, Cousteau developed and introduced a life-saving device – waterproof glasses. He then began testing equipment.

In 1943, the researcher, together with the French engineer Emile Gagnan, invented a diving suit. The inventory allowed to descend freely and without obstacles up to 90 meters. But Cousteau did not stop there. He also designed waterproof cameras, lighting fixtures, and the world’s first underwater television system.

Inauguration of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s laboratory “Il Flottante”, June 2, 1963

Photo: Keystone-France/Getty Images

After the end of the war, Jacques-Yves dedicated himself to clearing the water area from underwater mines. For this, he received at his disposal the floating base “Albatross”. He later changed his name to “Elie Monnier”. Cousteau recruited a team of divers and scientists. His task was to improve the diving equipment and explore the depth of the sea shores.

Cousteau’s name is strongly associated with the legendary “Calypso” research laboratory, which he created by converting the decommissioned J-826 minesweeper. Thanks to this, it became possible to make legendary trips around the world.

During the expeditions, Cousteau and like-minded people studied the marine world and conducted unique underwater studies. This was made possible by a film camera with specially retrofitted protection. In 1940, after the surrender of France to Nazi Germany, Jacques-Yves moved to Sanary-sur-Mer. In a small seaside town, he began preparations for world ocean exploration.

Lambert Wilson as Cousteau in The Odyssey (2016)

Photo: still from the film “Odyssey”

First steps in oceanography

He bought his first camera while he was still a student. Thus was born his love for photography. He first filmed his life, then began to take a camera while diving, taking unique shots.

Once Cousteau came up with an idea – to collect his achievements in a documentary. He was dedicated to underwater fishing and was called “At 18 meters deep”. It was a breakthrough, because previously underwater shooting was not done. Technical possibilities for this appeared due to the fact that Cousteau was able to re-equip the movie camera.

To make rarer shots, Jacques-Yves enlisted the support of French Admiral André Lemonnier. As a result, a special group was created to study the underwater world. The team cleared the bays of mines, explored the bays for hydrocarbon deposits, and conducted video reporting in parallel. These were the first steps in the history of oceanography.

Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1978

Photo: Getty Images

Contribution to public life

In 1957, Cousteau became the director of the Oceanological Museum, and since 1966 he began to host an author’s television show. He received the invitation because of his passion: filming scientific films. His oceanographer assembled on the basis of his own materials. Most of his work has appeared in films.

However, Cousteau did not stop there. He was drawn to the literary field. Jacques-Yves wrote about 50 books. The most famous of them; “In the world of silence”, “The world without sun”, “So that there are no secrets in the world”, “The World Ocean”.

The video version of “En el mundo del silencio” was awarded the “Oscar” and “Palma d’Or” awards for best documentary feature film. The same fate awaited the work “The World Without Sun.” True, this time the victory was in the “best documentary filmmaker” nomination.

Cousteau aboard the Calypso during his 75th birthday celebration

Photo: Getty Images

The French researcher expressed concern about the destruction of the marine ecosystem. For this reason, the Frenchman opened a non-profit society for the protection of the marine environment called the Cousteau Society. It’s still working. The employees are studying the problem of ocean pollution.

Jacques-Yves opened the Marine Research Center in Marseille, was the director of the museum in Monaco.

For his active social work, the oceanographer was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (received from the hands of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan). The UN awarded him the International Environmental Prize. He was also included in the members of the French Academy of Sciences and recognized as the “man of the year” according to BAFTA. A street in his native Saint-André-de-Cubzac and a school in Saint Petersburg are named after him in his honor.

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trip to the USSR

In 1977 Cousteau visited the USSR. The purpose of the trip was to talk about the importance of protecting the ocean. The Frenchman’s monologue was enthusiastically received on Soviet television. Russian zoologist and biogeographer Nikolai Drozdov did a separate interview with him. The researcher also gave a lecture at the Institute of Oceanology.

Jacques-Yves planned to plunge into the Black Sea, but due to the presence of a large number of military facilities, he did not receive permission.

Lambert Wilson as Cousteau and Audrey Tautou as his first wife Simone

Photo: still from the film “Odyssey”

Personal life

The Frenchman has been married twice. His first wife was simone melchior, daughter of the famous admiral Henri Melchio. Together with her husband, she participated in expeditions. Also, she was the first female diver. However, this marriage was not strong. The reason was the betrayal of the loving Cousteau.

Once a researcher at an international conference met a young flight attendant triple francine. Afterwards, the couple was often seen together. Cousteau even had to lie to the public that it was his niece. The legal wife found out about the infidelity of her husband, who, at the time of mourning (her son died in a plane crash), confessed everything himself.

With Francine Triple, April 9, 1995

Photo: Alain BENAINOUS/Getty Images

Simone could not forgive the betrayal, since Cousteau had a daughter from his mistress. Officially, they did not divorce, but simply dispersed. In 1990, her legal wife died of cancer. Only then did the oceanographer commit to Triple. The couple lived together for the rest of their lives. Another son was born in his family. Unfortunately, Jacques-Yves did not develop a relationship with Philip. He even sued his son to prohibit the use of the surname for commercial purposes.

scandals and revelations

Jacques-Yves was praised and criticized by the public. The reason was serious. He was accused of cruelty to animals.

Video evidence has emerged of Cousteau’s team members jamming fish with dynamite, killing a sperm whale and handing over its carcass for sharks to eat. At the same time, the voiceover explains that there is simply no other way to study the diversity of the ocean… In the 80s, American journalists launched a campaign to expose Cousteau.

How Jacques-Yves Cousteau died

Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on June 25, 1997 in Paris. He was 87 years old. His cause of death was a myocardial infarction from a respiratory disease. The legendary oceanographer was buried in the cemetery of the city of Saint-André-de-Cubzac, in his family crypt.

The memorial service was held in Paris at the Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Previous media wrote that Cousteau converted to Islam. However, the family and relatives did not confirm this information.

Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1989

Photo: Getty Images

Rules of life and dating Cousteau

The French explorer was able to change our familiar world, he showed humanity the beauty of underwater life and its importance. International recognition of him would not have been possible if Cousteau had betrayed his principles, from which he drew motivation and inspiration.

1. Don’t be afraid of the new and unusual:

If a person has the opportunity to lead an unusual life, he has no right to refuse it.

2. Value what surrounds us:

For most of history, man had to fight against nature in order to survive; in this century, he begins to understand that in order to survive, he must protect her.

3. Be honest:

In the morning I wake up, go to the bathroom and look at my unwashed face; if it looks like the face of an honest person, then I’m in for a good day.

4. Never despair:

One must love life, even in the least attractive ways.

5. Be aware and grateful:

The happiness of a bee or a dolphin is to exist. For a person, happiness is knowing that you exist and being delighted with this fact.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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