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Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Biography, calypso, what you need to know.


Jacques-Yves Cousteau, nicknamed “Captain Cousteau”, “JYC” or “Le Pacha” is an officer of the French Navy and French oceanographic explorer. He is the commander of the Calypso and also director of the documentary ”  The World of Silence  ” of 1955, he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956. Cousteau and Émile Gagnan worked together on the perfection of the scuba. Multiple films and documentaries were made on his underwater explorations, broadcasts that met with great success.


Birth: June 11, 1910 in Gironde

Death: June 25, 1997 in Paris

Passionate since childhood 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau  discovered himself at a young age a  passion for the sea, where his family settled. But his career began nevertheless in the military, in fact, the young man then twenty years prepares his entrance examination at  the Naval School of Brest , where he will be accepted (promotion of 1930).

Cousteau  was promoted to gunner officer and at the age of 23 joined the crew of the Navy training ship, Jeanne d’Arc. The young man followed a pilot training at the same time, but his career as an aviator was quickly stopped by a road accident in 1935. From 1930 to 1957,  Cousteau  was mainly invested in his military career, he was commander of the base naval from Shanghai, participated in the search for the battleship Graf von Spee aboard the Dupleix, the bombing of Genoa and entered the Resistance. For his war,  Cousteau  received the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945, and also the title of Knight of the Legion of Honor, in May 1946.


Farming as we do it is hunting, and in the sea we act like barbarians. JYC


Also, following his road accident in 1936,  Cousteau  was assigned aboard the  Condorcet , where he met for the first time Philippe Tailliez, who lent him his underwater glasses, invention of Maurice Fernez in 1920. Cousteau realizes the extent and richness of underwater life, an experience that marks a turning point in the life of the young man since he subsequently decides to devote his life to exploring the big blue.

Les Mousquemers 

The two who become friends and meet two years later Frédéric Dumas, expert in underwater archeology, the three passionate about the sea will form a trio of friends and researchers “Les Mousquemers”. As for The Musketeers, Les Mousquemers  will actually form a group of four men, the last to join the group is named Leon Veche (Engineer Arts and Crafts and Naval School) and is assured of logistics. Together, in 1942, they made the first French submarine film, “Eighteen meters deep” Between his meeting with Tailliez and Dumas, the soldier marries on July 12, 1937 Simone Melchior, with whom he has two children, Jean- Michel (1938) and Philippe (1940).

The diving suit 

In 1942,  Cousteau  met Émile Gagnan, a French engineer specializing in gas, with whom he developed an improved prototype of the diving suit. In 1943, he filed the modern scuba patent. Three years later, they created the company Spirotechnique, which allowed the commercialization of diving equipment, and the first modern holder, the CG45 (Cousteau -Gagnan-1945). The company’s momentum gives access to diving to the general public, both as a leisure activity and as a professional activity.

Aqua Lung

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.” JYC

The story of the Aqua-Lung goes back to World War II. In June, 1943, on a small beach of the Riviera, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, wearing rubber fins, shouldered the new completely autonomous diving gear.

It was inspired by the discoveries that preceded it, particularly that of Captain Yves Le Prieur, pioneer of autonomous diving who, in 1925, perfected an open-circuit, compressed-air device. There was one problem: the continuous flow of air limited how long the device could be used. The solution was born in Paris. During the war, the Germans requisitioned automobile gas. Engineer Emile Gagnan invented a demand regulator that would feed cooking gas to a car’s carburetor in the exact amount the jet needed.

Cousteau modified the regulator, adapted it and made it the crowning piece of his Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA), the Aqua-Lung.

In 1966, Cousteau brought together his best divers, engineers and designers to provide Calypso with sophisticated equipment they called streamlined scuba. This new equipment reduced fatigue and consequently air consumption, allowing the divers to move about more quickly and for a longer time. The membrane of the regulator was positioned on the chest, closest to the center of the volume of air in the lungs.


After the Second World War, in 1950, the Mousquemers  embarked  on the  Calypso , a ship formerly a minesweeper, now an oceanographic vessel for diving and underwater scientific research.

Captain  Cousteau  is covered with his famous red cap, and for four decades, he traveled the seas and oceans, hosting regular board archaeologists, biologists, geophysicists, zoologists and ecologists, in a desire to advance research and knowledge of marine biology.

The commander made multiple expeditions, both in the Red Sea and on the St. Lawrence, and also sailed in the Antarctic and Amazon areas. He is later named President of the French Oceanographic Campaigns.


Ingenious inventors 

Cousteau Foundation

In his struggle for the preservation of marine life, he created in the United States in 1973 the  Cousteau Foundation which had nearly 250,000 members in the 90s, before withering through legacy wars   after his  death . In 1983,  Jacques-Yves Cousteau joined forces with several NGOs including Greenpeace against the Wellington Convention and managed to have Antarctica classified as a protected area by intervening with the UN.

After the death of his first wife,  Simone Melchior,  in 1990,  the oceanographer married Francine Triplet, whom she had met before in 1976 and with whom he secretly founds a second family in parallel with his marriage. They have two children, Diane and Pierre-Yves, born in 1979 and 1981, respectively.


Cousteau  died  on June 25, 1997 in Paris and left behind about 150 films and 60 works, and remains one of the personalities remembered by the French, generations after generations. The red cap, passionate and committed.


For most of historyman has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. JYC


Sources: Cousteau Society, Biography, MaxScience.

Mohsen Nabil

Mohsen Nabil Hefni, Business Excellence Consultant PADI Open Water Instructor Founder of Diventure Magazine, Founder of Kalam Dot Magazine, Founder of 180EDU.ORG.

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