On this island, life evolved in surprising ways. In Madagascar in 1994, Captain Cousteau and his team discovered a land that had only been conquered by human beings for scarcely 2,000 years, but was already deeply scarred by the invasion.
Here, lemurs numbered thirty different species; 95 percent of reptile species and 98 percent of amphibian species, i.e. salamanders and frogs, on Madagascar were endemic. From aboard Alcyone, divers discovered the rich waters of the Mozambique Channel, crossing paths with great pelagic sharks. By helicopter, the Cousteau team filmed the progression of humpback whales coming to breed around Sainte-Marie Island.
Meeting the Malagasy people, who comprised 18 different ethnic groups, the Cousteau crew came to understand the threats that weighed on the country: deforestation, desertification, lack of potable water. People were being punished for their errors, past and present.
Nevertheless Madagascar was rich in natural resources. A future harmony between humans and Nature was still possible in this reservoir of unique living species that absolutely must be protected. In the films Island of Spirits I and JJ, the Cousteau team related with passion the story of this paradoxical place where humans are capable of the worst and the best.