Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born in St. Andre de Cubazac, France in 1910. The son of a lawyer, Jacques was warned by doctors to avoid strenuous activities due to chronic enteritis and anenemia. This did not affect his sense for adventure. At age 11, he built a foot working model of a two hundred ton marine crane. At age 13, he made a battery powered automobile. In 1930, at the age of twenty, Jacques entered the French Naval Academy.
Form 1933 to 1935 he served in the Far East aboard the cruiser Primaguet and ashore in Shanghai. He trained as a Navy flier until a serious automobile accident ended his aviation career. For his war efforts he was awarded two medals. One for honor and the other, A Purple Heart. Afterwards, he took part in mapmaking study along the Indochina Coast. In 1936, near Toulon, he tried underwater goggles for the first time, and his future course was set. In 1943, he and Emile Gagnan developed the first regulated compressed-air breathing device for sustained, unencumbered diving. After World War II, he created and organized, in conjunction with Commander Philippe Tailliez and Frédéric Dumas, an underwater research unit to carry out technical experiments and laboratory studies in diving.
In 1950 he founded "Campagne Oceanographique Francaise". Also, in the same year, Captain Cousteau acquired Calypso, a retired minesweeper of American construction. Over the next year, she was transformed into an oceanographic vessel, and the adventures of the now-famous ship began.
In the four decades since, she has sailed literally around the world and has explored many of the planet's major rivers. In collaboration with engineer Jean Mollard, Cousteau designed the Diving Saucer in 1959, a round, highly maneuverable, two-person submersible capable of diving to a depth of 350 meters. In 1965, twin one-man submersibles, the Sea Fleas, were launched by Cousteau. He also directed three experiments in saturation-diving techniques: Conshelf I off Marseille (1962), Conshelf II in the Red Sea (1963), and finally Conshelf III (1965), near Nice, in which six men breathing a helium- oxygen mixture lived and worked at 100 meters for three weeks.
This was the first of its kind. Not only is Captain Cousteau a oceanographer, he is also a author and documentarian. Jacques Cousteau has produced more than seventy films for television, films which have won numerous Emmys and other awards. He has also produced three full-length theatrical feature films, The Silent World, World Without Sun, and Voyage to the Edge of the World.
Cousteau has written, in collaboration with various co-authors, more than fifty books, published in more than a dozen languages. Recent books in English include Jacques Cousteau's Amazon Journey, The Living Sea, and The Silent World(which he later turned into a film). He was one of the first people to develop underwater color photography. Also, one of the first to use underwater television. In 1973, he founded the Cousteau Society. Through this foundation he continued his efforts to protect and improve the quality of life for present and future generations.
Jacques Cousteau contributed so much to us. Not only in the field of Oceanography, but also in the fields of marine biology, botany, and ecology. On June 25th 1997, the world had a great loss. Jacques Cousteau died at the age of eighty-seven. He is gone, but surely not forgotten.