Thursday, 10 June 2010

Jacques Cousteau

Today sees the centenary of the birth of marine explorer Jacques Cousteau. The former French naval officer is famous for being an explorer, author, inventor of the aqualung, but is probably best remembered for the long-running television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which started in 1966.

This series was broadcast from the Calypso, a former British minesweeper. It was badly damaged in 1996, when a barge accidentally rammed into it in the port of Singapore. Now, his wife wants the French government to mark the anniversary of his birth by restoring the vessel to its former glory. "The Calypso is, in its way, the Eiffel Tower of the oceans," Francine Cousteau recently said, "I feel a duty to restore its soul... so it can be an ambassador of the environment in the years to come."

Cousteau died in 1997 and his reputation took a bit of a knock a couple of years later. Those Who Dared features an article about his 1953 book, The Silent World, and the following review of the film of the same name appeared in the Observer on December 1 1956.

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