Jacques-Yves Cousteau ( also known as Captain Cousteau ) was a French undersea explorer, innovator, scientist, writer, filmmaker and photographer. He was the father of modern scuba diving and the co-founder of the Aqua-lung. He created the first underwater habitats, the Conshelf I, II and III. He was also the first president of CMAS (Confédération mondiale des Activités sous-marins – Global Confederation of Underwater Activity), which is the biggest diving society in the world, founded by the delegates of 15 countries unanimously in 1959 in Monaco.
He was born June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France. He was a weakly and apparently anemic child, but he learned to swim early. He often went swimming and free-diving with his friends. When he was eleven years old, he combined the love for the sea with interest in invention and built a model of a marine crane.
He graduated at École Navale in 1933 and after graduating, he joined the French Navy as a gunnery officer.
During the World War II Cousteau fought for the French and after the war he helped remove mines from French seas. One of these minesweepers became his research ship, the Calypso. In 1942 he designed an early underwater breathing device, the Aqua-Lung.
In 1950 as a president of French Oceanographic Campaigns he led a campaign to stop nuclear waste dumping in the Mediterranean.
He became the director of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco in 1957, at the same time making many underwater films and writing books.
What’s more, he led a lot of projects like Underseas Research Group and the Conshelf project.
He founded an organization ( Cousteau Society ) in 1973, which continues the unique explorations and observations of ecosystems and protects water systems. It has more than 300,000 members worldwide nowadays.
Cousteau's most famous book, The Silent World became a bestseller in 1953. The movie that based on the book was very succesful too, he won Academy Award for best documentary in 1957.
Cousteau produced more than a hundred documentary films about his adventures on his research ship, the Calypso. He is the best-known advocate for marine environmental protection. His accounts and the ensemble of his work remain as a testimony of his rich knowledge of the underwater world.
- Founder of the French Navy's Undersea Research Group (1946)
- President of French Oceanographic Campaigns (from 1950)
- Director of the Oceanographical Museum of Monaco (1957-1988)
- Founder of Cousteau Society (1973)
- President of CMAS (1959-1973)
- National Geographic's Gold Medal (1961)
- Knight of the Legion of Honour (1972)
- Officer of the National Order of Maritime Merit (1980)
- U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom ( 1985 ) given by Ronald Reagan
- Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit (1985)
- Television Academy's Hall of Fame (1987)
- International Council of the National Acedemy of Television Arts and Sciences (1987)
- National Geographic Society, Centennial Award (1988)
- French Academy Award (1989)
- The Silent World (with Frédéric Dumas, 1953)
- The Living Sea (with James Dugan, 1963)
- World Without Sun (1965)
- The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea ( with Phillipe Cousteau, 1970)
- Life and Death in a Coral Sea (with Philippe Diolé, 1971)
- Oasis in Space (1972)
- The Whale ( with Philippe Diolé, 1972)
- The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau (1973)
- Dolphins (1975)
- The Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet (1981)
- Jacques Cousteu's Calypso (1983)
- Jacques Cousteau's Amazon Journey ( with Mose Richards,1984)
- Jacques Cousteau's Journey to Papua New Guinea (with Mose Richards, 1984)
- Whales (1988)
- The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus (1996, posthumous; with Susan Schiefelbein)
- The Silent World ( 1956 )
- World Without Sun ( 1964 )
- Journey to the End of the World ( 1976 )
- Cries from the Deep ( 1981 )
- St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea ( 1982 )
- The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1966-1968)
- The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau (1968 - 1976)
- Oasis in Space (1977)
- Cousteau's Odyssey Series (1977-1981)
- Cousteau's Amazon Series (1982 – 1984)
- Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World I (1985- 1991)
- Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World II (1992 - 1994)
Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997 in Paris. He bequeathed all and exclusive rights related to the use of his name, image and work to the Cousteau Society, of which the mission is to continue his work. His death shook up everyone all the way to the United States, where he was one of the most popular Frenchmen. James Cameron for example admits to have „gotten his green vein" from Cousteau’s films: "He developed the imagination of an entire generation. I think he had a profound impact on all people of the world”. He is buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac (Gironde).