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Famous explorer, filmmaker and inventor Jacques-Yves Cousteau led Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum from 1957 to 1988.

Born in 1910 in Gironde (France), Jacques-Yves Cousteau began his underwater research in 1945. On board the Calypso, a former minesweeper transformed into an oceanographic research vessel, and then the Alcyone, he explored the seas with his crew from 1951 onwards. His film The Silent World won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival in 1956 and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 1957. Through his 70 films for television and 50 books, he raised public awareness of the beauty of the oceans as well as the threats they faced.

As a lover of the sea who was concerned about protecting the environment, Prince Rainier III appointed Cousteau as head of Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum in 1957.

The famous naval officer then led the institution for 30 years, during which he alerted the general public to the fragility of the marine environment, the impact of pollution, the overexploitation of ocean resources and the mechanical destruction of coastal areas. His work and initiatives followed on from the actions of Prince Albert I.

© United Press
© AFP

Jacques Cousteau was also a member of the American Academy of Sciences, and in 1977 was awarded the United Nations International Environment Prize. In 1990, he launched a global petition to safeguard Antarctica from mining. In 1992, he was an official guest at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. He passed away in 1997, at the age of 87.

A constant innovator, the explorer also invented the aqualung, diving saucers, “houses under the sea” and a new wind propulsion system, the Turbosail. His vessel Amphitrite, a giant semi-rigid, was christened by Princess Grace in 1960.

At the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, visitors can see diving equipment, books, photos and other items that belonged to the explorer, though the most impressive exhibit is the replica of the Cyana.

With its resemblance to a flying saucer, this small habitable yellow submarine, commissioned in 1969, was built under Cousteau’s supervision. The idea was to reach sea beds that had never previously been explored…

© DR
© DR

“To enlarge the human perspective, to build on knowledge for future generations, to identify dangers, and to chart the course to a better world: if these are the goals of the explorer, then everyone – voyager, scientist and citizen, parent and child – is engaged in humanity’s momentous expedition.”

Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

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Musée Océanographique

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