Celine and Fabien Cousteau join their father, Jean-Michel, on a film expedition dive in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, continuing the family legacy of Jacques Cousteau.
Photo credit: © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society & KQED

Happy Birthday Jean-Michel Cousteau!

Mission Blue would like to wish a VERY happy birthday to one of our favorite people on Planet Ocean – Jean-Michel Cousteau!

JMCousteau

At 75, this marine conservation hero has truly dedicated his life to preserving and raising awareness about our oceans. The son of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jean-Michel has seen many changes in our seas from his first dive at age seven to today – not to mention major advances in scuba equipment from his father’s original Aqualung!

Despite the threats our oceans face from climate change, overfishing, oil spills and other human-caused threats, Jean-Michel and the entire Cousteau family remain optimistic for the future. Their leadership in the marine conservation community has inspired generations of explorers, researchers, students, artists and all-around nature lovers to care about and protect the blue heart of our planet.

Since nobody can share Jean-Michel’s wisdom better than the man himself, here is his birthday message to the world posted Monday on his Ocean Futures Society blog:

“Today I turn 75. In the 75 years that I have been on this blue planet, I have been privileged to travel to every continent and to sail every sea. I have borne witness to humanity at its finest–from the invention of the Aqualung by my father Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan in 1942, to the then-deepest dive in 1961 by Jacques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh. With much of the world, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969 and was awestruck by the rover Curiosity’s transmission of images from Mars in 2013.

Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) climbing into his Diving Saucer on board the 'Calypso' docked in New York Harbor in August 1959.

Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) climbing into his Diving Saucer on board the ‘Calypso’ docked in New York Harbor in August 1959.

And I’ve seen humanity’s worst. I have agonized at the near extinction, due to over fishing, of the bluefin tuna. I have been at ground zero of the two worst oil spills in history, the Exxon Valdez and the Deepwater Horizon. I continue to be saddened by the way we treat the ocean as a garbage can. And I am angered beyond words about the continued captivity of orcas and other marine mammals solely for entertainment.

Jean-Michel Cousteau with a rescued orca. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Jean-Michel Cousteau with a rescued orca. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

But I believe in the power of one. I feel strongly that every action counts. I know that we will, no, we must, make a difference for the better. We must embrace a completely different perspective of how we work in, exploit and manage the natural world, far beyond simply the search for new technology. We need a new philosophy about the appropriate use of technology and our relationship with nature. We must remember that it is the ocean that keeps our planet habitable, and so far, too many of our activities undermine the health and vitality of nature.

So, instead of celebrating my 75 years, I would like to raise a glass to celebrate our life-support system, our blue heart. Our Water Planet is now 4.54 billion years old. May we enjoy and appreciate the gift the ocean provides for us all and return the favor by doing all that we can to protect our ocean planet.

Here’s to another 4.54 billion years and many more.

From underwater, diving the coral reefs of Fiji, I send my personal regards and Oceans of Thanks,

– Jean-Michel Cousteau”

Photo: © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Photo: © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Thank you, Jean-Michel, for all you do. Here’s to many more adventures to come!

Send Jean-Michel birthday wishes via the Ocean Futures Society’s guest book.

by Courtney Mattison

Featured image (top): Celine and Fabien Cousteau join their father, Jean-Michel, on a film expedition dive in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, continuing the family legacy of Jacques Cousteau. (Photo credit: © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society and KQED)

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