jacques cousteau

My Father, The Captain:
My Life with Jacques Cousteau

by: Jean-Michel Cousteau
with Daniel Paisner

The more I look back on my father, Jacques Cousteau, and his legacy, the more I realize how much he is a part of our times and how, had we listened more carefully, things might be different.

He was a pioneer who broke barriers with his inventions, like the Aqualung and underwater cameras, but he was also a visionary in the sense that he understood the consequences of the trends he witnessed.  He foresaw the risks of nuclear technology and waste; he projected the devastating results of overfishing, overexploitation of habitat, and climate change; and he spoke consistently about population growth and the strain on the natural system.

Jacques Cousteau, along with my brother and I, founded one of the earliest environmental organizations to communicate the issues we were encountering and to educate an international audience.  He wrote the draft of “The Rights of Future Generations” for the United Nations as a vehicle to embody the principle of sustainability and responsible resource management.  He constantly exercised his brilliant intellect in the service of global solutions.  He never stopped until, in his words, he was “unplugged.”

He wielded another power that is rare—he poetically made sense of the incomprehensible and gave us each a way of looking at the world that made action possible. For example, on an isolated riverbank in the Amazon, just as we had released a rescued sea otter named Cacha, my father turned to me, full of emotion, and said, “Jean-Michel, people protect what they love.”  That became for me a motto of my father’s work and an emblem of the commitment we all must make to the world that surrounds us.

– Jean-Michel Cousteau

by Ocean Futures Society

Jean Michel, Fabien & Celine Cousteau

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