Sharky's Machine

Jul 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

   Photo: Illustration by +ISM

If you're the grandson of legendary aquaman Jacques Cousteau, swimming with sharks is almost blasé. But becoming one—now that's honoring your pedigree. This past winter, Fabien Cousteau, 37, climbed inside Troy, a 14.5-foot submarine/shark decoy, to film the great whites around Guadalupe Island, off Mexico's Pacific coast. Created by Hollywood-stuntman-cum-inventor Eddie Paul, Troy allowed Cousteau to observe the toothy predators without intrusive barriers. "There's no bubbling creature in a cage in nature," says Cousteau, "especially not one with a soft, chewy center." The result is a splashy documentary, Mind of a Demon, that he hopes will help dispel the notion of great whites as simple killing machines. Look for a television airing by late summer.

1. CAMERAS are mounted behind both eyes and inside decoy remoras, scavenger fish that attach themselves to sharks. The cameras feed into two small monitors, which Cousteau uses to track footage and see where he's going.

2. Depth is controlled by filling or purging three plastic dorsal BUOYANCY BAGS.

3. Two small TANKS capture the spent air from the propulsion system, preventing suspicious bubbles.

4. The exterior is covered with gray SKINFLEX, a stretchy plastic used to make both artificial limbs and movie monsters.

5. STEEL RIBS and a flexible plastic spine provide structure.

6. Troy is a "wet" sub; it fills with water. Cousteau dons a wetsuit and enters via the HINGED HEAD, using a scuba rebreather system to complete dives as long as six hours.

7. To swim, Troy uses compressed air from a SCUBA TANK to drive pistons that pull the tail back and forth with cables. Cousteau pilots with a joystick.

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