The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. Jacques Yves Cousteau
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jacques-Yves_Cousteau.jpgNASA employee [Public domain]It is 1943 and the underwater world of our planet is almost completely unknown to mankind. That is, it was, until a French explorer and cinematographer by the name of Jacques-Yves Cousteau co-invented the aqualung, better known as the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or scuba. Cousteau had been obsessed with the ocean since the day he witnessed it through aviator goggles on the coast of Megreve, France. His dream was to be a world famous cinematographer and he saw the unexplored ocean as his ticket to get there. First he worked on an underwater camera, then he began working on a method to breathe underwater, but without the restrictions of movement that came with the armored exoskeletons. Over his lifetime, Cousteau accomplished more than most people could dream of. He funded and created multiple organizations, one being the Cousteau Society, one of the most prominent non-profit organizations of today. He wrote and co-wrote more than 80 novels, in addition making more than 120 television programs, and won an academy award for three of them. A hero is typically seen as someone with powers, powers like incredible strength, speed, or flight. However, not a lot of people consider the mental aspect of being a hero. To be a hero, you must have determination and courage. No matter what powers that hero has, without those aspects they may as well be the same as the people around them. Jacques Cousteau was a hero because of his courage and determination. Because these traits drove him to win three Academy Awards for a few of his 80 or so television programs as well as write and co-write over 120 books.
Jacques Cousteau is known for his determination, it is what pushed him past so many obstacles and caused him to accomplish the unimaginable amount of things that he did. Cousteau is most well known for his films and co-creation of the scuba gear, but in the Database, “Jacques-Yves Cousteau” it explains everything else he did, saying, “Cousteau spent most of his life exploring the Earth's oceans and capturing their wonders, secrets and frailties creatures on film for a worldwide television audience. He co-invented the first underwater breathing device, developed a one- person, jet-propelled submarine, established the first manned undersea colonies, and pioneered the craft of undersea film making.” (Jacques-Yves Cousteau). Here it mentions that he helped create and test a one manned submarine, which helped revolutionize undersea exploration by allowing people to go deeper than free diving would allow them due to the pressure. It helped people understand and discover more and more creatures and ecosystems within the safety of a vessel. It also mentions that he helped establish the first manned undersea colonies, better known as the aquanaut experiments. He created buildings and housing units and placed them underwater, then proceeded to get people to live in them, the longest occupation lasting a month. While Cousteau lived a long and happy life, it was not without conflict. He lived and served during one of the most horrific wars our world has experienced, his actions described in the website biography.com, saying, “During World War II, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Jacques Cousteau and his family took refuge in the small town of Megreve, near the Swiss border. For the first few years of the war, he quietly continued his underwater experiments and explorations.” (Jacques Cousteau Biography.com). He was living in the middle of a war, yet he continued to study. He continued to explore and he continued to experiment. During this time he started swimming due to an arm injury and got his first glimpse of the undersea world when he used aviator goggles to see when he was underwater. His determination led him to volunteer his services and technology to his side of the war, doing as much as going behind enemy lines to photograph their plans and maps. He risked his life because he was determined to win and end the war as well as the death and conflict that came with it. Over his lifetime Cousteau’s determination led him to accomplish countless things, from stationing people in underwater buildings for a month, to risking his life to help win a war. He is a hero due to his actions and deserves to be recognized under that title because of it.
His Famous Ship, The CalypsoSteve Moses [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]While people don’t typically see cinematographers or environmentalists as courageous, Jacques Cousteau was full of courage, using it to propel his accomplishments and ideas. During the time Cousteau spent in the French Navy, he offered his scuba units to the Navy to be used during the war for spying and potential underwater cleanups, his actions explained more in the Database titled Jacques-Yves Cousteau, saying, “He served in the Navy through World War II, spying for the French Resistance and establishing a military unit which taught sailors scuba diving and underwater photography techniques and cleared German mines from French ports. After the war he received the French Legion of Honor, his country's highest honor.” (Jacques-Yves Cousteau). It takes a lot for a man to give up something he loves, like Cousteau did with his aqualung for the navy, but it is another kind of courage to dive underwater and disarm bombs. Body motion is severely restricted underwater, especially with a 40 lb tank on your back, yet he still went with a group of other incredibly brave men to disarm them. Because of his courageous actions, like spying on the enemy, risking his life to uncover plans, and disarming bombs under the ocean surface, he received one of the most honorable awards his country could award him, all just because he thought what he was doing was right. Cousteau is arguably most well known for his creation of a device that allowed the average person to breathe and swim freely underwater. The database “Jacques Cousteau and the Undersea World” talks about his trial and error while making this device, saying, “Cousteau tested several different underwater breathing apparatuses. He also tried different air mixtures, including pure oxygen. On a few occasions, he and his companions nearly died during these experimental dives, either because the air they were breathing was dangerous beyond certain depths (as is the case with pure oxygen) or their equipment failed. Indeed, each time they dove underwater was a new and potentially dangerous experience. Even scientists at the time didn't completely understand how the human body is affected by water pressure at certain depths.” (King). Not even some of the most intelligent marine chemists didn’t know what would happen when pressure of the deep compressed their breathing supply, making everything so much more dangerous. Because they didn’t know how the air would be affected, it would imply that if the men were in critical condition due to an error, they wouldn’t know how to help them, making it all the more courageous. Cousteau and his fellow men weren’t just endangered by the pressure though, they were also in danger of creatures never before seen and different conditions such as nitrogen narcosis and decompression sickness. They almost died from many of the potential casualties on the list. Because Cousteau (and his companions) faced so many dangers, and found a way around them, or beat them altogether, he truly was brave. He truly was courageous.
Jacques Cousteau is one of the most famous marine environmentalists and explorers in the world and he represents the epitome of hero because of his courage and determination to create and undercover everything he could, to share it with the people. He was a hero to the world. His countless documentaries and novels uncovered and explained a large majority of what we now know about our oceans. He started one of the most funded and well known marine conservation organizations and shaped children’s childhoods with his stories of the deep. Jacques-Yves Cousteau is my hero because without him, I wouldn’t have had a vessel to discover my passion for the ocean and the organisms that inhabit it. He created devices to peacefully and comfortably observe and record what happens in 75% of our world. He is my hero because he did things that meant so much more him. He is my hero because despite the fact that he was larger than life, he never let himself believe he was better than anyone else. He is my hero because he was determined, courageous, and most of all, he was passionate about what he did.
Bundy, Kathryn. “Jacques-Yves Cousteau.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Mar. 2009, p. 1.
“Jacques Cousteau.” Jacques Cousteau (Biography Today), Jan. 2010, p. 1. EBSCOhost,
“Jacques Cousteau.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 2 Apr. 2014,
"Jacques-Yves Cousteau." Newsmakers, Gale, 1998. Student Resources In Context,
=756fb6a. Accessed 1 May 2019
Jacques Yves Cousteau." World of Invention, Gale, 2006. Student Resources In Context,
=e441b0f4. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
King, Roger. “Jacques Cousteau and the Undersea World.” Jacques Cousteau & the Undersea
World, Jan. 2000, p. 6. EBSCOhost,
Matsen, Brad. Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King. Pantheon Books, 2009.