National Geographic and The Cousteau Society present rediscovery of the Mediterranean

2 July 2010

Expedition reveals changes at sites where Jacques-Yves Cousteau first filmed underwater 65 years ago

BARCELONA, Spain (July 2, 2010)—The Cousteau Society and National Geographic scientists and filmmakers returned today from their flagship expedition aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s legendary vessel Alcyone, which has been documenting the Mediterranean now — and in the past.

The expedition is part of National Geographic Ocean Fellow Dr. Enric Sala’s research to establish baselines of ocean health. Working with Pierre-Yves Cousteau, Jacques’ youngest son, the voyage uses historical footage from Cousteau’s work from the 1940s and has captured new footage to give an up-to-date snapshot of key sites in the Mediterranean.

The expedition set off June 4 from Marseille and went to the Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica to the Medes Islands in Spain, the S’Espardell Marine Reserve in Formentera and finally Cabrera National Park south of Mallorca. Sala’s team collected scientific data on the abundance of marine life inside and outside these marine reserves and filmed the work to show what these reserves can do.

“The abundant marine life that Cousteau filmed off Marseille in 1946 is gone mostly because of too much fishing, but we also found light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sala. “The marine reserves we visited during the expedition demonstrate that we can bring that underwater richness back. This new footage shows in a dramatic way that there is hope for our sea. We know now exactly what has been lost since then and can determine what we need to do to bring back marine abundance for the ocean itself, and for the communities who depend on it.”

Pierre-Yves Cousteau, president of Cousteau Divers, said, “My father inspired millions of people everywhere in the world to love, study, explore and protect the ocean. On this expedition we are carrying out the Cousteau heritage and philosophy to raise awareness of the importance of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Diving at Le Veyron, where my father first began exploring the underwater world, was a very special experience for me. Being on this expedition is giving me a glimpse at what his life as an explorer must have been like.”

The expedition, which will be part of a National Geographic Channel documentary, is now assessing current science about the health of the Mediterranean with what was discovered this month and will show exclusive new footage during a press event in Barcelona.

Sala and Cousteau will report findings to national and community stakeholders as well as online via National Geographic and The Cousteau Society throughout 2010. They are sharing information with a team from Oceana, who are now researching the southern Mediterranean. Xavier Pastor, executive director for Oceana in Europe, added, “Oceana`s research vessels have been documenting the Mediterranean for four years; we are enthused to work with National Geographic and the Cousteau Society on the work they are doing now to support the Mediterranean.”

The expedition is supported by IWC Schaffhausen, the Waitt Family Foundation, Veolia Environment and the National Geographic Society.



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