The Cousteau crew, approaching the coasts of Alaska, discovered a gigantic state, the largest in the US: 1,525,000 square kilometers for just 600,000 inhabitants. You can walk for days on end without meeting another living soul. Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 12.56.12This wild expanse is home to the polar bear, grizzly and walrus, and to peoples who have been persecuted, exploited, sometimes reduced to slavery and decimated by diseases introduced by while colonists.
When A/cyone explored the Glacier Bay region in 1987 and 1988, the crew fell that they were travelling some 80,000 years back to a time when part of Europe and North America was covered with ice. At times A/cyone would be tossed from side to side by the waves created when impressive sheets of ice crumbled into the water. Captain Cousteau, through the films from these expeditions, such as Twilight of the Alaskan Hunter, showed how Alaska holds many trump cards that would let it serve as a model of management of its natural regions: substantial financial resources, a high level of education, a small population in an immense territory. If authorities are wise, this “last frontier” can be developed into an area where humans and animals cohabit without serious problems. In 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef off the southern coast. It happened in the middle of a magnificent landscape of virgin Nature, especially rich in wildlife: migratory birds, young salmon departing for sea or adults returning to reproduce, seals hauling out, sea otters and orcas. There could be no worse site for an oil spill. Several days after the catastrophe, the Cousteau team arrived on site and could only tally the evidence: 1,000 kilometers of coast contaminated; thousands of birds and mammals dead. The tragedy symbolizes the dilemma facing the entire world today: how to exploit natural resources without vandalizing the environment.