20 years!

Twenty years ago, Captain Cousteau set sail to explore new shores.

Today is not a time to mark a ceremony for what was the saddest day of my life, but instead to pay tribute to this wonderful man.

Twenty years ago our two teenage children saw their father, the magician who illuminated their childhood, disappear. That day millions of people realized that a long absence was taking hold, a great void, one of those moments that leaves the planet orphaned.

For twenty years, through the difficulties we have had no choice but to pull through, the Cousteau team patiently built a body of work aiming toward a future true to the travail of its founder Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

I had the joy and luck to spend 20 years by his side, sharing his life through it’s enchantments but also its most difficult tests.

After all these years I have learned how to go straight to what is essential and “look for the star” as he would say, to define my route and that of our teams.

Finding the star is becoming increasingly difficult. Today, we live in a world stuck on the details and ,it seems, can no longer see the meaning of events thus rendering it difficult to make the necessary corrections.

That is why the best tribute we pay to the Captain is first above all to continue his work.

This is the mission he entrusted to his French and American Associations, Equipe Cousteau and the Cousteau Society, to whom he gave worldwide and perpetual rights to his name, likeness, and work.

Over the past twenty years we have managed to maintain and protect this strong legacy within the Associations:
1 million photographs, 121 films, and archives of rushes, copyrights, the two Calypso and Alcyone ships, and all the tools and gear that he invented and used with his teams all around the world.

Protection and care have been possible thanks to constant vigilance and relentless melees to rebuff those who were striving to catch hold of the heritage resulting from over 50 years of hard work by a humanist who shared the knowledge, beauty, and poetry of the stunning marine universe with us.

Equipe Cousteau and Cousteau Society have remained independent associations which are not subsidized by the French or American governments. It is thanks to the public that we are able to save Calypso, to defend the Captain’s will, and to create and carry out our missions.

Under the direction of our Director of Science and Environment, Tarik Chekchak, we have completed sustainable development programs in the Red Sea, where we have been working for the past 14 years notably in Sudan , place where Cousteau marked the history of underwater exploration with Conshelf II in 1963, documented in the oscar winning film the World Without Sun. Today, for the first time, we have made a complete mapping of the entire 750 km of this coast, home to incredible marine biodiversity all while trying to address the great needs of development of the local populations. Our project has contributed to the classification of the area as a UNESCO World Heritage marine site in July 2016, the first in the Red Sea.

In Djibouti, we are advising the government on how to reconcile economic development and environmental preservation with marine and coastal areas. In time aiming to replicate this approach in all countries in the Horn of Africa.

For the past 10 years, our team has been ever present in polar environments, and we have witnessed the observed consequences of global warming that these areas are experiencing.
Preserving Antarctica for future generations was a significant commitment of Captain Cousteau, and we have been working with the world’s leading scientific institutions (Census of Antarctic Marine Life) to assess the state of marine biodiversity in the world, notably during the International Polar Year (2007/2009). We are as ever committed to the well-being and the future of the white continent.

We have worked in the Danube Delta, Easter Island in Chile, Minas Gerais State in Brazil, the USA for children’s education programs as well as for science programs.
With the ship Alcyone, powered by its two majestic turbo sails, we revisited the Red Sea from Jordan to Sudan, and explored the Caspian Sea where we had the privilege of accessing the five riparian countries.
We have also presented at many conferences and exhibitions, including our infographic exposé “sounds of the Silent World” at UNESCO this year.

For this 20 year anniversary, we have finally managed to rebuild the hull of Calypso, en route to giving the ship the destiny that the Captain wanted for her: to be the ambassador of the Seas and Oceans at the service of the education of the generations to come.

For this 20 year anniversary, we were in New York where the United Nations gave the Captain an international tribute.

For this 20 years anniversary, the Cousteau Team signed an agreement with the United Nations to work side by side on sustainable development programs for the maritime and coastal zones, thus extending our missions to two new areas immediately.

During this time Diane Cousteau (the Captain ‘s only daughter) anthropologist ( Cambridge, UK), specialized in New Caledonia and Pacific native populations, worked on Easter Island and continues to carry out research which is essential to our work.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau, the Captain’s youngest son, master Jussieu Biochemistry, ISU Master of Science, MBA INSEAD Singapore, has esyablished the Cousteau Divers programs, a social network for scientific observation for divers. Pierre-Yves has also made numerous scientific expeditions around the globe ( North Pole, Galapagos, Indonesia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Greece, Balearic Islands, Hawaii, New Caledonia …) as well as a spokesperson at conferences and films for social networks.

Patrice Quesnel, Captain of Alcyone, secured the safety of Calypso during her eventful séjour in France. The ship is now beinn refitted in Turkey.
Within the framework of the Ecotechnie programs, multidisciplinary activities initiated by the Captain and UNESCO, we have multiplied university chairs around the world, including the very active one of the Future University in Khartoum, Sudan.

Our line faithfully follows the star pointed by the Captain: Water is our most precious property. To protect this cherished belonging we work on large ecosystems, internationally offering solutions for the long term.

In order to carry out our work we take a position of political neutrality, international environmental diplomacy, to accompany our expertise and the recognized excellence which goes with the name we so proudly carry.
All of this, is my faithful homage to my dearest JYC, and that of all those who help us untiringly in the superhuman struggle to work for the joy of living and future generations,
Thinking of the immense gift that you gave us through the blue planet.

Francine Cousteau

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