- NAME: Jacques Cousteau
- OCCUPATION: Photographer, Explorer, Filmmaker, Inventor, Military Leader, Scientist
- BIRTH DATE: June 11, 1910
- DEATH DATE: June 25, 1997
- EDUCATION: Collège Stanislas, Ecole Navale (French Naval Academy)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
- Full Name: Jacques-Yves Cousteau
- AKA: Jacques Cousteau
- Nickname: Jyc
Best Known For
Jacques Cousteau was a French undersea explorer, researcher, photographer and documentary host who invented diving and scuba devices, including the Aqua-Lung. He also conducted underwater expeditions and produced films and television series, including the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.
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Born on June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France, Jacques Cousteau co-invented the Aqua-Lung, a breathing device for scuba-diving, in 1943. In 1945, he started the French Navy's undersea research group. In 1951, he began going on yearly trips to explore the ocean on the Calypso. Cousteau recorded his trips on the TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. In 1996, the Calypso sunk. Cousteau died on June 25, 1997, in Paris, France.
"However fragmented the world, however intense the national rivalries, it is an inexorable fact that we become more interdependent every day."
"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free."
"The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it."
"The awareness of our environment came progressively in all countries with different outlets."
Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born in the village of Saint-André-de-Cubzac, in southwestern France, on June 11, 1910. The younger of two sons born to Daniel and Elizabeth Cousteau, he suffered from stomach problems and anemia as a young child. At age 4, Cousteau learned to swim and started a lifelong fascination with water. As he entered adolescence, he showed a strong curiosity for mechanical objects and upon purchasing a movie camera, he took it apart to understand how it operated.
Jacques Cousteau's curiosity notwithstanding, he did not do well in school. At 13, He was sent to boarding school in Alsace, France. After he completed his preparatory studies, he attended Collège Stanislas in Paris and in 1930, Cousteau entered the Ecole Navale (French Naval Academy) at Brest, France. After graduation, as a gunnery officer, he joined the French Navy's information service. He took his camera long and shot many rolls of film at exotic ports-o-call in the Indian and South Pacific oceans.
In 1933, Jacques Cousteau was in a major automobile accident that nearly took his life. During his rehabilitation, he took up daily swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. A friend, Philippe Tailliez, gave Cousteau a pair of swimming goggles, which opened him to the mysteries of the sea and began his quest to understand the underwater world. In 1937, Cousteau married Simone Melchior.
They had two sons, Jean-Michel and Phillipe. Both sons, in time, would join their father in underwater world expeditions. Simone died in 1990 and one year later, the senior Cousteau married Francine Triplet, with whom he had a daughter and son (born while Cousteau was married to Simone).
During World War II, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Jacques Cousteau and his family took refuge in the small town of Megreve, near the Swiss border. For the first few years of the war, he quietly continued his underwater experiments and explorations. In 1943 he met Emile Gagnan, a French engineer who shared his passion for discovery. Around tthis time, compressed air cylinders were invented and Cousteau and Gagnan experimented with snorkel hoses, body suits and breathing apparatus.
In time, they developed the first aqua-lung device allowing divers to stay underwater for long periods of time. Cousteau was also instrumental in the development of a waterproof camera that could withstand the high pressure of deep water. During this time, Cousteau made two documentaries on underwater exploration, Par dix-huit mètres de fond ("18 Meters Deep") and Épaves ("Shipwrecks").
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With its natural splendor and key geographic location, France has forever been the destination of marauding hordes—whether they be sword-wielding barbarians or camera-toting tourists. However, these Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have extended their influence outward, beyond the borders of the Hexagone, through art, invention and philosophy. C'etait magnifique, or, as deemed by the aforementioned title, fantastically French.
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