Cousteau, Jacques

Jacques Cousteau. (Tim Tomkinson)

A French explorer and arguably the most prolific marine scientist and ocean conservationist of the 20th century. Cousteau coinvented the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or scuba, and developed waterproof camera housings that allowed him to shoot footage for his documentaries. He made 120 films, three of which won Oscars; authored 50 books, including his masterpiece, The Silent World; and started the Cousteau Society, a conservation NGO. The motto of his ship, the Calypso, which was damaged in 1996 and has never been relaunched, was “Il faut aller voir”—“We must go and see for ourselves.” Cousteau died in 1997 at 87.

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