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Cousteau, Jacques Yves

  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

Jacques Yves Cousteau, b. June 11, 1910, d. June 25, 1997, a French naval officer and marine explorer, made significant contributions to the science of oceanography. Following graduation from the Naval Academy at Brest, France, he entered the French navy as a midshipman. In 1936, Cousteau began studies of the ocean environment. He founded the undersea research group of the French navy in 1945. His technological innovations include underwater breathing equipment, or the aqualung, developed with Émil Gagnan; the use of underwater photography; and the bathyscaphe, an immersible boat. A prolific author, Cousteau had the rare distinction of writing a book, The Silent World (with Frédéric Dumas, 1953), in a nonnative tongue (English) and having it acclaimed by reviewers as an excellent literary work. The film based on the book won an Academy Award in 1957 for best feature documentary film. He won two other Academy Awards, for the short film The Golden Fish (1959) and the full-length documentary World without Sun (1965). He wrote many other nonfiction books on such diverse topics as marine animal and plant life and underwater archaeological discoveries. Cousteau had a strong commitment to the marine environment and used the television medium in recent years to promote a better understanding of the ocean and its life forms. Cousteau was director of the Oceanographic Museum and Institute in Monaco from 1957 to 1988. In 1989 he was inducted into France's Académie Française. He has published many books, among them Cousteau's Amazon Journey (1984; with Mose Richards), Jacques Cousteau: The Ocean World (1985), and The Living Sea (1988; with James Dugan).

Roger A. Pielke

Bibliography: Munson, R., Cousteau: The Captain and his World (1989); Stacey, P., "The First 75 Years," Calypso Log, June 1985.

  • Subjects:
    Exploration and Discovery, Scientists and Human Endeavor, Inventors and Inventions
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