When Jacques Cousteau began exploring the ocean in the late 1930s, so little was known about what went on down there that it was basically as dangerous, daunting, and seemingly suicidal as space travel. To add to the risk, the two most advanced pieces of diving equipment at the time were goggles and fins. Unsurprisingly, Cousteau’s contributions to ocean exploration were as much technological — developing equipment that would allow him to go deeper for longer — as they were cultural. While the equipment for modern day SCUBA diving came from Cousteau’s hands, the inspiration for a generation of divers came from his more than 100 documentaries, including the Cannes-winning 1956 film The Silent World, as well as the television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which ran from 1968 to 1976.
• Cousteau created SCUBA as a way to explore deeper into the ocean for longer periods of time.
• He discovered marine mammal echolocation, which is how animals such as whales communicate using sound.
The Last Word
Cousteau focused his camera lens into the ocean and turned a generation of adventurers on to the last, vastly unexplored region on the planet.