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Jacques Cousteau

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Jacques Cousteau
Cousteau in 1972
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

(1910-06-11)11 June 1910
Died25 June 1997(1997-06-25) (aged 87)
Paris, France
  • (m. 1937; died 1990)
  • (m. 1991)
RelativesPierre-Antoine Cousteau (brother)

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, AC (/kˈst/, also UK: /ˈkst/, French: [ʒak iv kusto]; 11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997)[1] was a French naval officer, oceanographer, filmmaker and author. He co-invented the first successful open-circuit self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA), called the Aqua-Lung, which assisted him in producing some of the first underwater documentaries.

Cousteau wrote many books describing his undersea explorations. In his first book, The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure, Cousteau surmised the existence of the echolocation abilities of porpoises. The book was adapted into an underwater documentary called The Silent World. Co-directed by Cousteau and Louis Malle, it was one of the first films to use underwater cinematography to document the ocean depths in color. The film won the 1956 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and remained the only documentary to do so until 2004 (when Fahrenheit 9/11 received the award). It was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1957.

From 1966 to 1976, he hosted The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, a documentary television series, presented on American commercial television stations. A second documentary series, The Cousteau Odyssey, ran from 1977 to 1982 on public television stations.


"The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all in the same boat."

Jacques Cousteau

Early life[edit]

Cousteau was born on 11 June 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde, France, to Daniel and Élisabeth Cousteau. He had one brother, Pierre-Antoine. Cousteau completed his preparatory studies at the Collège Stanislas in Paris. In 1930, he entered the École navale and graduated as a gunnery officer. However, an automobile accident, which broke both his arms, cut short his career in naval aviation. The accident forced Cousteau to change his plans to become a naval pilot, so he then indulged his passion for the ocean.[2]

In Toulon, where he was serving on the Condorcet, Cousteau carried out his first underwater experiments, thanks to his friend Philippe Tailliez who in 1936 lent him some Fernez underwater goggles, predecessors of modern swimming goggles.[1] Cousteau also belonged to the information service of the French Navy, and was sent on missions to Shanghai and Japan (1935–1938) and in the USSR (1939).[3]

On 12 July 1937, he married Simone Melchior, his business partner,[4] with whom he had two sons, Jean-Michel (born 1938) and Philippe (1940–1979). His sons took part in the adventures of the Calypso. In 1991, six months after his wife Simone's death from cancer, he married Francine Triplet. They already had a daughter Diane Cousteau (born 1980) and a son, Pierre-Yves Cousteau (born 1982, during Cousteau's marriage to his first wife).

Early 1940s: innovation of modern underwater diving[edit]

The years of World War II were decisive for the history of diving. After the armistice of 1940, the family of Simone and Jacques-Yves Cousteau took refuge in Megève, where he became a friend of the Ichac family who also lived there. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Marcel Ichac shared the same desire to reveal to the general public unknown and inaccessible places — for Cousteau the underwater world and for Ichac the high mountains. The two neighbors took the first ex-aequo prize of the Congress of Documentary Film in 1943, for the first French underwater film: Par dix-huit mètres de fond (18 meters deep), made without breathing apparatus the previous year in the Embiez islands in Var, with Philippe Tailliez and Frédéric Dumas, using a depth-pressure-proof camera case developed by mechanical engineer Léon Vèche, an engineer of Arts and Measures at the Naval College.

In 1943, they made the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), in which they used two of the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes. These prototypes were made in Boulogne-Billancourt by the Air Liquide company, following instructions from Cousteau and Émile Gagnan.[5] When making Épaves, Cousteau could not find the necessary blank reels of movie film, but had to buy hundreds of small still camera film reels the same width, intended for a make of child's camera, and cemented them together to make long reels.[6][7]

Having kept bonds with the English speakers (he spent part of his childhood in the United States and usually spoke English) and with French soldiers in North Africa (under Admiral Lemonnier), Jacques-Yves Cousteau (whose villa "Baobab" at Sanary (Var) was opposite Admiral Darlan's villa "Reine"), helped the French Navy to join again with the Allies; he assembled a commando operation against the Italian espionage services in France, and received several military decorations for his deeds. At that time, he kept his distance from his brother Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, a "pen anti-semite" who edited the collaborationist newspaper Je suis partout (I am everywhere) and who received the death sentence in 1946. However, this was later commuted to a life sentence, and Pierre-Antoine was released in 1954.

During the 1940s, Cousteau is credited with improving the Aqua-Lung design which gave birth to the open-circuit scuba technology used today. According to his first book, The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure (1953), Cousteau started diving with Fernez goggles in 1936, and in 1939 used the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus invented in 1926 by Commander Yves le Prieur.[6] Cousteau was not satisfied with the length of time he could spend underwater with the Le Prieur apparatus so he improved it to extend underwater duration by adding a demand regulator, invented in 1942 by Émile Gagnan.[6] In 1943 Cousteau tried out the first prototype Aqua-Lung which finally made extended underwater exploration possible.

Late 1940s: GERS and Élie Monnier[edit]

In 1946, Cousteau and Tailliez showed the film Épaves ("Shipwrecks") to Admiral Lemonnier, who gave them the responsibility of setting up the GRS (Groupement de Recherches Sous-marines, Underwater Research Group) of the French Navy in Toulon. A little later it became the GERS (Groupe d'Études et de Recherches Sous-Marines, Underwater Studies and Research Group), then the COMISMER (Commandement des Interventions Sous la Mer, Undersea Interventions Command), and finally the CEPHISMER (Centre Expert Plongée Humaine et Intervention Sous la Mer, Expert Centre for Human Diving and Undersea Intervention). In 1947, Chief Petty Officer Maurice Fargues became the first diver to die using an Aqua-Lung, while attempting a new depth record to 120 m with the GERS near Toulon.[8]

In 1948, between missions of mine clearance, underwater exploration and technological and physiological tests, Cousteau undertook a first campaign in the Mediterranean on board the sloop Élie Monnier,[9][10] with Philippe Tailliez, Frédéric Dumas, Jean Alinat and the scenario writer Marcel Ichac. The small team also undertook the exploration of the Roman wreck of Mahdia (Tunisia). It was the first underwater archaeology operation using autonomous diving, opening the way for scientific underwater archaeology. Cousteau and Marcel Ichac brought back from there the Carnets diving film (presented and preceded with the Cannes Film Festival 1951).

Cousteau and the Élie Monnier then took part in the rescue of Professor Jacques Piccard's bathyscaphe, the FNRS-2, during the 1949 expedition to Dakar. Thanks to this rescue, the French Navy was able to reuse the sphere of the bathyscaphe to construct the FNRS-3.

The adventures of this period are told in the two books The Silent World (1953, by Cousteau and Dumas) and Plongées sans câble (1954, by Philippe Tailliez).


In 1949, Cousteau left the French Navy.

In 1950, he founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns (FOC), and leased a ship called Calypso from Thomas Loel Guinness for a symbolic one franc a year. Cousteau refitted the Calypso as a mobile laboratory 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).

With the publication of his first book in 1953, The Silent World, Cousteau 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.

In 1954, Cousteau conducted a survey of Abu Dhabi waters on behalf of British Petroleum. Among those accompanying him was Louis Malle who made a black-and-white film of the expedition for the company.[11] Cousteau won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956 for The Silent World co-produced with Malle. In 1957, Cousteau took over as leader of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.[2] Afterward, 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 1957, he was elected as director of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.[2] He directed Précontinent, about the experiments of diving in saturation (long-duration immersion, houses under the sea), and was admitted to the United States National Academy of Sciences.

He was involved in the creation of Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques and served as its inaugural president from 1959 to 1973.[12]

Cousteau also took part in inventing the "SP-350 Denise Diving Saucer" in 1959 which was an invention best for exploring the ocean floor, as it allowed one to explore on solid ground.[2]

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.[13] 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.

Cousteau on the Calypso

In the 1960s, Cousteau was involved with a set of three projects to build underwater "villages"; the projects were named Precontinent I, Precontinent II and Precontinent III. Each ensuing project was aimed at increasing the depth at which people continuously lived under water, and were an attempt at creating an environment in which men could live and work on the sea floor. The projects are best known as Conshelf I (1962), Conshelf II (1963), and Conshelf III (1965). The names "Precontinent", and "Continental Shelf Station" (Conshelf) were used interchangeably by Cousteau.

A meeting with American television companies (ABC, Métromédia, NBC) created the series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, with the character of the commander in the red bonnet inherited from standard diving dress intended to give the films a "personalized adventure" style. This documentary television series ran for ten years from 1966 to 1976. A second documentary series, The Cousteau Odyssey, ran from 1977 to 1982 on public television stations.

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

In December 1972, two years after the volcano's last eruption, The Cousteau Society was filming Voyage au bout du monde on Deception Island, Antarctica, when Michel Laval, Calypso's second in command, was struck and killed by a rotor of the helicopter that was ferrying between Calypso and the island.[14][15]

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.

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 No. 2 on the charts.

In 1976, Cousteau located 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, 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 eldest son, the architect Jean-Michel, to his side. This collaboration lasted 14 years.


From 1980 to 1981, he was a regular on the animal reality show Those Amazing Animals, along with Burgess Meredith, Priscilla Presley, and Jim Stafford.

Cousteau's Diving Saucer

In 1980, Cousteau traveled to Canada to make two films on the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, Cries from the Deep and St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea.[16]

In 1985, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

From 1986 to 1992, Cousteau released Rediscovery of the World.

On 24 November 1988, he was elected to the Académie française, chair 17, succeeding Jean Delay. His official reception under the cupola took place on 22 June 1989, the response to his speech of reception being given by Bertrand Poirot-Delpech. After his death, he was replaced by Érik Orsenna on 28 May 1998.

In June 1990, the composer Jean Michel Jarre paid homage to the commander by entitling his new album Waiting for Cousteau. He also composed the music for Cousteau's documentary "Palawan, the last refuge".

On 2 December 1990, his wife, Simone Cousteau died of cancer.

In June 1991, in Paris, Jacques-Yves Cousteau remarried, to Francine Triplet, with whom he had (before this marriage) two children, Diane and Pierre-Yves. Francine Cousteau currently continues her husband's work as the head of the Cousteau Foundation and Cousteau Society. From that point, the relations between Jacques-Yves and his elder son, who is 8 years older than Francine, worsened.

In November 1991, Cousteau gave an interview to the UNESCO Courier, in which he stated that he was in favour of human population control and population decrease. Widely quoted on the Internet are these two paragraphs from the interview: "What should we do to eliminate suffering and disease? It's a wonderful idea but perhaps not altogether a beneficial one in the long run. If we try to implement it we may jeopardize the future of our species...It's terrible to have to say this. World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. This is so horrible to contemplate that we shouldn't even say it. But the general situation in which we are involved is lamentable".[17]

In 1992, he was invited to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations' International Conference on Environment and Development, and then he became a regular consultant for the UN and the World Bank.

In 1993, a brief biography, as well as an introduction by Cousteau was featured in interactive educational software program Undersea Adventure, developed by former game developer Knowledge Adventure.

In 1995, Cousteau became involved in a legal battle with his son Jean-Michel, who was advertising the "Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort" in the South Pacific, to prevent him from using the Cousteau name for business purposes in the United States.[18] This resulted in Jean-Michel Cousteau being ordered by the court to not encourage confusion between his for-profit business and his father's non-profit endeavours.

On 11 January 1996, Calypso was accidentally rammed and sunk in the port of Singapore by a barge. The Calypso was refloated and towed home to France.[19]

Religious views[edit]

Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger celebrated his funeral Mass at Notre-Dame in Paris. In his homily he stated, "Without betraying any confidences, Father Carré told me of his respect for Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He discovered in him a man of prayer whom he accompanied in his last months of his life, giving him, through the sacraments of the Church, the strength of his passage towards eternity."[20]

In a chapter entitled "The Holy Scriptures and the Environment" in the posthumous work The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus, he is quoted as stating that "The glory of nature provides evidence that God exists".[21]

Opinion on recreational fishing[edit]

Cousteau said that just because fish are cold-blooded does not mean they do not feel pain, and that recreational fishermen only say so to reassure their conscience.[22]

Death and legacy[edit]

Jacques-Yves Cousteau died of a heart attack on 25 June 1997 in Paris, two weeks after his 87th birthday. He was buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac, his birthplace.[23] An homage was paid to him by the town by naming the street which runs out to the house of his birth "rue du Commandant Cousteau", where a commemorative plaque was placed.

Cousteau's submarine near Oceanographic Museum in Monaco

Cousteau's legacy includes more than 120 television documentaries, more than 50 books, and an environmental protection foundation with 300,000 members.[1]

Cousteau liked to call himself an "oceanographic technician". He was, in reality, a sophisticated showman, teacher, and lover of nature. His work permitted many people to explore the resources of the oceans.

His work also created a new kind of scientific communication, criticized at the time by some academics. The so-called "divulgationism", a simple way of sharing scientific concepts, was soon employed in other disciplines and became one of the most important characteristics of modern television broadcasting.

His Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, and perhaps even he himself,[24][25] has been identified as introducing the "Killer Algae" Caulerpa taxifolia, which is negatively affecting the Mediterranean's ecosystem.

The Cousteau Society and its French counterpart, l'Équipe Cousteau, both of which Jacques-Yves Cousteau founded, are still active today. The Society is currently attempting to turn the original Calypso into a museum and it is raising funds to build a successor vessel, the Calypso II.

In 2007, the International Watch Company introduced the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph "Cousteau Divers" Special Edition. The timepiece incorporated a sliver of wood from the interior of Cousteau's Calypso research vessel. Having developed the diver's watch, IWC offered support to The Cousteau Society. The proceeds from the timepieces' sales were partially donated to the non-profit organization involved in conservation of marine life and preservation of tropical coral reefs.[26]

Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, is in the process of constructing a community of ocean flooring analysis stations, called Proteus, off Curaçao at a depth of about 20 m in a marine-protected area. Aquanauts could reside and work in these underwater habitats. Front-end engineering has started in 2022 with the habitat put on the sea bottom in 2025.[27]

Awards and honors[edit]

President Kennedy awards the National Geographic Society's Gold Medal to Jacques Cousteau, 1961

During his lifetime, Jacques-Yves Cousteau received these distinctions:


No [A] Year (Fr/En) [B] French English [C] Cousteau Film
1. Early Short Films
1S 1942 Par dix-huit mètres de fond Yes
2S 1943 Épaves Shipwrecks Yes
3S 1944 Paysages du silence Silent Lands... Yes
4S 1948 Phoques au Sahara
5S 1949 Autour d'un récif
6S 1949 Une plongée du Rubis A Dive on Board the Rubis Yes
7S 1949 Carnet de plongée (avec Marcel Ichac)
8S 1955 La Fontaine de Vaucluse (avec Louis Malle)
9S 1955 Station 307
10S 1955 Récifs de coraux
11S 1957 La Galère engloutie (avec Jacques Ertaud)
12S 1959 Histoire d'un poisson rouge The Golden Fish Yes
13S 1960 Vitrines sous la mer (avec Georges Alépée)
14S 1960 Prince Albert I
2. Movies I
1F 1956 Le Monde du silence The Silent World Yes
2F 1964 Le Monde sans soleil World Without Sun Yes
3. The Odyssey of the Cousteau Team I (also known as "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau")
1 1966 L'aventure Précontinent Conshelf Adventure Yes
2 1967/1968 Les Requins Sharks Yes
3 1967/1968 La jungle de corail The Savage World of the Coral Jungle Yes
4 1967/1968 Le Destin des tortues de mer Search in the Deep Yes
5 1968 Baleines et cachalots Whales Yes
6 1968/1969 Le voyage surprise de Pepito et Cristobal The Unexpected Voyage of Pepito and Cristobal Yes
7 1968/1969 Trésor englouti Sunken Treasure Yes
8 1968/1969 La légende du lac Titicaca The Legend of Lake Titicaca Yes
9 1969 Les baleines du désert The Desert Whales Yes
10 1969/1970 La nuit des calmars The Night of the Squid Yes
11 1969/1970 La retour des Éléphants de mer The Return of the Sea Elephants Yes
12 1970 Ces incroyables machines plongeantes Those Incredible Diving Machines Yes
13 1970 La mer vivante The Water Planet Yes
14 1970 La tragédie des Saumons rouges The Tragedy of the Red Salmon Yes
15 1970/1971 Le lagon des navires perdus Lagoon of Lost Ships Yes
16 1971 Les Dragons des Galápagos The Dragons of the Galapagos Yes
17 1971 Cavernes englouties Secrets of the Sunken Caves Yes
18 1971 Le sort des Loutres de mer The Unsinkable Sea Otter Yes
19 1971/1972 Les dernières Sirènes The Forgotten Mermaids Yes
20 1972/1971 Pieuvre, petite pieuvre Octopus, Octopus Yes
21 1972 Le chant des dauphins A Sound of Dolphins Yes
22 1973 500 millions d'années sous la mer 500 Million Years Beneath the Sea Yes
23 1973/1972 Le sourire du Morse A Smile of the Walrus Yes
24 1973 Hippo, Hippo Hippo! Yes
25 1973 La baleine qui chante The Singing Whale Yes
26 1974/1973 Mission Cousteau en Antarctique. Partie I. La glace et le feu Cousteau in the Antarctic. Part I. South to Fire and Ice Yes
27 1974 Mission Cousteau en Antarctique. Partie II. Le vol du Pingouin Cousteau in the Antarctic. Part II. The Flight of Penguins Yes
28 1974 Mission Cousteau en Antarctique. Partie III. La vie sous un océan de glace Cousteau in the Antarctic. Part III. Beneath the Frozen World Yes
29 1974 Mission Cousteau en Antarctique. Partie IV. Blizzard à Esperanza Cousteau in the Antarctic. Part IV. Blizzard at Hope Bay Yes
30 1975/1974 Patagonie: La vie au bout du monde Life at the End of the World Yes
31 1975 L'hiver des Castors Beavers of the North Country Yes
32 1975 Les Fous du Corail The Coral Divers of Corsica Yes
33 1975 Les requins dormeurs du Yucatán The Sleeping Sharks of Yucatán Yes
34 1976/1975 Coup d'aile sous la mer: Isabella The Sea Birds of Isabella Yes
35 1976 Au cœur des récifs des Caraïbes Mysteries of the Hidden Reefs Yes
36 1976 Le Poisson qui a gobé Jonas / El Gran Pez que se tragó a Jonás The Fish That Swallowed Jonah Yes
37 1976 La Marche des langoustes The Incredible March of the Spiny Lobsters Yes
4. Movies II
3F 1975 / 1976 Voyage au bout du monde Voyage to the Edge of the World Yes
5. Oasis in Space
1S 1977 What Price Progress? No
2S 1977 Troubled Waters No
3S 1977 Grain of Conscience No
4S 1977 Population Time Bomb No
5S 1977 The Power Game No
6S 1977 Visions of Tomorrow No
6. The Cousteau Odyssey II (also known as "The Jacques Cousteau Odyssey", continue "The Odyssey of the Cousteau Team")
38 1977 L'énigme du Britannic Calypso's Search for the Britannic Yes
39 1978 Le butin de Pergame sauvé des eaux Diving for Roman Plunder Yes
40 1978 À la recherche de l'Atlantide. Partie I Calypso's Search for Atlantis. Part I Yes
41 1978 À la recherche de l'Atlantide. Partie II Calypso's Search for Atlantis. Part II Yes
42 1978 Le testament de l'île de Pâques Blind Prophets of Easter Island Yes
43 1978 Ultimatum sous la mer Time Bomb at Fifty Fathoms Yes
44 1979 Le sang de la mer Mediterranean: Cradle or Coffin? Yes
45 1979 Le Nil. Partie I The Nile. Part I Yes
46 1979 Le Nil. Partie II The Nile. Part II Yes
47 1980 Fortunes de mer Lost Relics of the Sea Yes
48 1980/1981 Clipperton: île de la solitude Clipperton: The Island Time Forgot Yes
49 1981/1982 Sang chaud dans la mer Warm-Blooded Sea: Mammals of the Deep Yes
7. North American Adventures
1F 1981 Les Pièges de la mer Cries from the Deep No
2F 1982 Du grand large aux grands lac Saint Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea Yes
8. Cousteau's Amazon Series
1S 1982 Objectif Amazone: Branle-bas sur la Calypso Calypso Countdown: Rigging for the Amazon Yes
2 1983 Au pays des milles rivières Journey to a Thousand Rivers Yes
3 1983 La rivière enchantée The Enchanted River Yes
4 1983 Ombres fuyantes — Indiens de l'Amazonie Shadows in the Wilderness — Indians of the Amazon Yes
5 1983/1984 La rivière de l'or River of Gold Yes
6 1984 Message d'un monde perdu Legacy of a Lost World Yes
7 1984 Un avenir pour l'Amazonie Blueprints for Amazonia Yes
8 1984 Tempête de neige sur la jungle Snowstorm in the Jungle Yes
9. Other releases I
1 1985 Le Mississippi. Partie I. Un Allié récalcitrant Cousteau at Mississippi. The Reluctant Ally Yes
2 1985 Le Mississippi. Partie II. Allié et adversaire Cousteau at Mississippi. The Friendly Foe Yes
3 1985 Jacques-Yves Cousteau: mes premier 75 ans (1) Jacques Cousteau: The First 75 Years (1) No
4 1985 Jacques-Yves Cousteau: mes premier 75 ans (2) Jacques Cousteau: The First 75 Years (2) No
5 1985 Alcyone, fille du vent Riders of the Wind Yes
6S 1988 Island of Peace Yes
10. Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World I (also known as "Rediscover the World")
1 1986 Haïti: L'eau de chagrin Haiti: Waters of Sorrow Yes
2 1986 Cuba: les eaux du destin Cuba: Waters of Destiny Yes
3 1986 Cap Horn: les eaux du vent Cape Horn: Waters of the Wind Yes
4 1986 L'héritage de Cortez Sea of Cortez: Legacy of Cortez Yes
5 1987 Les Îles Marquises: montagnes de la mer The Marquesas Islands: Mountains from the Sea Yes
6 1987 Îles du Détroit: les eaux de la discorde Channel Islands: Waters of Contention Yes
7 1987 Îles du Détroit: à l'approche d'une marée humaine Channel Islands: Days of Future Past Yes
8 1988 Nouvelle-Zélande: la Rose et le dragon New Zealand: The Rose and the Dragon Yes
9 1988 Nouvelle-Zélande: au pays du long nuage blanc New Zealand: The Heron of the Single Flight Yes
10 1988 Nouvelle-Zélande: le Péché et la Rédemption New Zealand: The Smoldering Sea Yes
11 1988 Au pays des totems vivants Pacific Northwest: Land of the Living Totems Yes
12 1988 Tahiti: l'eau de feu Tahiti: Fire Waters Yes
13 1988 Les Requins de l'île au trésor Cocos Island: Sharks of Treasure Island Yes
14 1988/1989 Mer de Béring: Le crépuscule du chasseur en Alaska Bering Sea: Twilight of the Alaskan Hunter Yes
15 1988/1989 Australie: l'ultime barrière Australia: The Last Barrier Yes
16 1989 Bornéo: Le spectre de la tortue Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle Yes
17 1989 Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée I: La machine à remonter le temps Papua New Guinea I: Into the Time Machine Yes
18 1989 Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée II: La rivière des hommes crocodiles Papua New Guinea II: River of Crocodile Men Yes
19 1989 Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée III: La coeur de feu Papua New Guinea III: Center of Fire Yes
20 1989 Thaïlande: les forçats de la mer Thailand: Convicts of the Sea Yes
21 1989/1990 Bornéo: la Forêt sans terre Borneo: Forests Without Land Yes
11. Other releases II
7 1990 Scandale à Valdez Outrage at Valdez No
8 1990 Lilliput en Antarctique Lilliput in Antarctica Yes
12. Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World II (also known as "Rediscover the World")
22 1990 Andaman, les îles invisibles Andaman Islands: Invisible Islands Yes
23 1990/1991 Australie: à l'ouest du bout du monde Australia: Out West, Down Under Yes
24 1991 Australie: le peuple de la mer desséchée Australia: People of the Dry Sea Yes
25 1991 Australie: le peuple de l'eau et du feu Australia: People of Fire and Water Yes
26 1991 Australie: les trésors de la mer Australia: Fortunes in the Sea Yes
27 1991 Tasmanie, une île s'éveille Tasmania: Australia's Awakening Island Yes
28 1991 Indonésie: les vergers de l'enfer Indonesia I: The Devil's Orchard Yes
29 1991 Sumatra: le cœur de la mer Indonesia II: Sumatra, the Heart of the Sea Yes
30 1991/1992 Nauru, îlot ou planète Nauru: The Island Planet Yes
31 1991/1992 La grand requin blanc, seigneur solitaire des mers The Great White Shark — Lonely Lord of the Sea No
32 1991 Palawan, le dernier refuge Palawan: The Last Refuge Yes
33 1992 Danube I: le lever de rideau Danube I: The Curtain Rises Yes
34 1992 Danube II: le rêve de Charlemagne Danube II: Charlemagne's Dream Yes
35 1992 Danube III: les Cris du Fleuve Danube III: The River Cries Out Yes
36 1992 Danube IV: les Débordements du Fleuve Danube IV: Rivalries Overflow Yes
37 1993 La société secrète des Cétacés Bahamas: The Secret Societies of Dolphins and Whales No
38 1993 Mékong: le don de l'eau Mekong: The Gift of Water No
39 1993 Vietnam et Cambodge: le riz et les fusils Vietnam and Cambodia: Children of Rice and Guns No
13. Other releases III
9 1995 La Légende de Calypso Calypso's Legend Yes
10 1995 Profond, loin, longtemps Deeper, Farther, Longer Yes
11 1996 Les promisses de la mer The Mirage of the Sea Yes
14. Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World III (also known as "Rediscover the World")
40 1995 Madagascar I: l'île des esprits Madagascar I: Island of Heart and Soul Yes
41 1995 Madagascar II: l'île des esprits Madagascar II: Island of Heart and Soul Yes
42 1996 Afrique du Sud: les diamants du désert South Africa: Diamonds of the Desert Yes
43 1996 Afrique du Sud: sanctuaires pour la vie South Africa: Sanctuaries for Life Yes
44 1996/1997 À travers la Chine par le fleuve Jaune China: Across China with the Yellow River Yes
45 1997/1999 Le lac Baïkal Lake Baikal: Beneath the Mirror Yes


  1. ^ actual order, it is incorrect on the official filmography
  2. ^ actual years, they are incorrect on the official filmography
  3. ^ actual names, they are incorrect on the official filmography
  • S – short film
  • F – full-length film
  • <only number> – length of the film is about 45 minutes


  • The Silent World (1953, with Frédéric Dumas)
  • Captain Cousteaus Underwater Treasury (1959, with James Dugan)
  • The Living Sea (1963, with James Dugan)
  • World Without Sun (1965)
  • The Undersea Discoveries of Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1970–1975, 8-volumes, with Philippe Diolé)
    • The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea (1970)
    • Diving for Sunken Treasure (1971)
    • Life and Death in a Coral Sea (1971)
    • The Whale: Mighty Monarch of the Sea (1972)
    • Octopus and Squid: The Soft Intelligence (1973)
    • Three Adventures: Galápagos, Titicaca, the Blue Holes (1973)
    • Diving Companions: Sea Lion, Elephant Seal, Walrus (1974)
    • Dolphins (1975)
  • The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau (1973–78, 21 volumes)
    • Oasis in Space (vol 1)
    • The Act of Life (vol 2)
    • Quest for Food (vol 3)
    • Window in the Sea (vol 4)
    • The Art of Motion (vol 5)
    • Attack and Defense (vol 6)
    • Invisible Messages (vol 7)
    • Instinct and Intelligence (vol 8)
    • Pharaohs of the Sea (vol 9)
    • Mammals in the Sea (vol 10)
    • Provinces of the Sea (vol 11)
    • Man Re-Enters Sea (vol 12)
    • A Sea of Legends (vol 13)
    • Adventure of Life (vol 14)
    • Outer and Inner Space (vol 15)
    • The Whitecaps (vol 16)
    • Riches of the Sea (vol 17)
    • Challenges of the Sea (vol 18)
    • The Sea in Danger (vol 19)
    • Guide to the Sea and Index (vol 20)
    • Calypso (1978, vol 21)
  • A Bill of Rights for Future Generations (1979)
  • Life at the Bottom of the World (1980)
  • The Cousteau United States Almanac of the Environment (1981, a.k.a. The Cousteau Almanac of the Environment: An Inventory of Life on a Water Planet)
  • Jacques Cousteau's Calypso (1983, with Alexis Sivirine)
  • Marine Life of the Caribbean (1984, with James Cribb and Thomas H. Suchanek)
  • Jacques Cousteau's Amazon Journey (1984, with Mose Richards)
  • Jacques Cousteau: The Ocean World (1985)
  • The Whale (1987, with Philippe Diolé)
  • Jacques Cousteau: Whales (1988, with Yves Paccalet)
  • The Human, The Orchid and The Octopus (and Susan Schiefelbein, coauthor; Bloomsbury 2007)

Media portrayals[edit]

Jacques Cousteau has been portrayed in films:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Cousteau Society". Archived from the original on 25 January 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jacques Cousteau | French ocean explorer and engineer". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Jacques Cousteau | Biography , Quotes , Books , WordCloud , Life History Timeline |Minds of Science". www.mindsofscience.com. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  4. ^ Lunn, Rosemary E. (8 March 2021). "WDHOF announces new Simone Melchior Cousteau Grant". X-Ray International Dive Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 July 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  5. ^ "le Scaphandre Autonome". Espalion-12.com. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b c The Silent World. J. Y. Cousteau with Frédéric Dumas. Hamish Hamilton, London. 1953
  7. ^ Capitaine de frégate PHILIPPE TAILLIEZ, Plongées sans câble, Arthaud, Paris, January 1954, Dépôt légal 1er trimestre 1954 – Édition N° 605 – Impression N° 243 (in French)
  8. ^ Ecott, Tim (2001). Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World. New York City: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0-87113-794-1. LCCN 2001018840.
  9. ^ Sevellec, E.J. (1 December 2006). "Naissance du GERS et des premiers plongeurs démineurs" (in French). Philippe.tailliez.net. Retrieved 18 February 2010. According to Sevellec, the Élie Monnier was an old German tugboat originally called Albatros and handed over to France as a war reparation, and then re-baptised in honor of the maritime engineer Élie Monnier who had disappeared while diving at Mers-el-Kébir on the wreck of the battleship Bretagne
  10. ^ Riffaud, C. (1988). "La règne du scaphandre à casque", in La grande aventure des hommes sous la mer. Users.skynet.be. ISBN 2-226-03502-8. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  11. ^ Morton, Michael Quentin (June 2015). "Calypso in the Arabian Gulf: Jacques Cousteau's Undersea Survey of 1954". Liwa. 5 (9): 3–28. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1959–1973)". Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  13. ^ Hamblin, Jacob Darwin (2008). Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0813542201. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Accident kills Cousteau aide in Argentina (30 December 1972)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Hero and Calypso at Deception Island 1972–73". www.palmerstation.com. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  16. ^ Ohayon, Albert (2009). "When Cousteau Came to Canada". NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  17. ^ "Article: Jacques-Yves Cousteau. (Interview) | AccessMyLibrary – Promoting library advocacy". AccessMyLibrary. 1 November 1991. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Cousteau's Son Blocked From Using Name". The New York Times. 22 December 1995. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Calypso".
  20. ^ "Homélie prononcée lors des obsèques de M. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, en la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris | Académie française".
  21. ^ Cousteau, Jacques; ed. by Schiefelbein, Susan. 2010. The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781596917552
  22. ^ Cousteau, Jacques (1985). The Ocean World. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 383. ISBN 9780810980686.
  23. ^ "La "conversion" du commandant Cousteau à l'Islam". Atheisme.free.fr. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  24. ^ Davidson, Nick (1 April 2003). "Deep Sea Invasion". PBS. Nova. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  25. ^ Meinesz, Alexandre (1999). Killer Algae (1st ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226519228. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  26. ^ "Diver's Watch Bearing a Piece of Cousteau's Legendary Vessel Watches Channel". Watches.infoniac.com. 27 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  27. ^ Palumbo, Jacqui (22 July 2020). "Fabien Cousteau and Yves Béhar unveil designs for Proteus, an underwater 'space station' and habitat – CNN Style". CNN. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  28. ^ Jean-Michel Cousteau (11 June 2010). "Jacques Cousteau "would be heartbroken" at our seas today". Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  29. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Itsanhonour.gov.au. 26 January 1990. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  30. ^ "32 Facts About 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'". Mental Floss. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  31. ^ a b "Watch: First International Trailer For Jacques Cousteau Biopic 'The Odyssey' Starring Lambert Wilson & Audrey Tautou". The Playlist. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  32. ^ a b "L'Odyssée : Lambert Wilson dans la peau de Cousteau". Le Figaro. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  33. ^ "World Premiere of Wild Bunch-Sold 'The Odyssey' Closes San Sebastian". Variety. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  34. ^ "Ce que le biopic sur Cousteau, "L'Odyssée", nous apprend de son côté obscur". The Huffington Post (French Edition). Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Undersea Explorer: The Story of Captain Cousteau (1957) by James Dugan
  • Jacques Cousteau and the Undersea World (2000) by Roger King
  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau: His Story Under the Sea (2002) by John Bankston
  • Jacques Cousteau: A Life Under the Sea (2008) by Kathleen Olmstead

External links[edit]