June 11 – Hail, Calypso!

Today’s Factismal: Jacques-Yves Cousteau would be 104 years old today.

Born in 1910, Jacques-Yves Cousteau lived the sort of life that makes the guy in the beer commercials jealous. When he was twenty, he was a naval aviator. When he was twenty-five, he was a spy for the French government. When he was thirty, he made the first French underwater film. When he was thirty-five, he helped to develop the modern AquaLung (or SCUBA) system, which opened up the oceans to exploration – and did it while running commando raids against the Third Reich.

Cousteau at seventy (Image courtesy NASA)

Cousteau at seventy
(Image courtesy NASA)

When he was forty, he had already led the first underwater archeology expedition, the first rescue of an abandoned submarine (bathyscaphe, actually), and created the first precursor of the US Navy Seals program. When he was forty-five, he had predicted the echolocation of porpoises and written two award-winning books about underwater exploration. When he was fifty, he led a public protest against dumping waste into the ocean that stopped a pilot program cold. When he was fifty-five, he starred in a weekly television program that introduced millions to the wonders of the deep sea. When he was sixty, he created the society that bears his name. When he was sixty-five, he discovered not one but two shipwrecks.  When he was seventy, he became a television star again. When he was seventy-five, he was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Launching the "Diving Saucer", the world's first purely scientific research submarine (Image courtesy National Geographic)

Launching the “Diving Saucer”, the world’s first purely scientific research submarine
(Image courtesy National Geographic)

When he was eighty, France’s most famous composer wrote an entire album of music about him. When he was eighty-five, he became a consultant for the UN. Sadly, he died not too long after that, depriving the world of one of its most vibrant and vigorous personalities.

If you’d like to learn more about Cousteau and his work, then there is no better place to go than the society he founded: the Cousteau Society
http://www.cousteau.org/

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