Seven hours of television film, two volumes of scientific reports, teacher’s guides, articles and two books: the two-year expedition to Amazonia was the most ambitious ever undertaken by The Cousteau Society. Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 12.58.09 In 1982-83, Calypso’s crew penetrated to the heart of the emerald forest, going up the Amazon River, the largest and longest in the world (6,400 kilometers). This poorly known region, a complex amalgam of water and vegetation, covers nine countries and holds one-fifth of the planet’s fresh water.
The Cousteau teams took a lot of expedition equipment to the Amazon: several inflatable boats, kayaks, jeeps, a helicopter, a hydroplane and an amphibious truck. Once arrived, what a wealth of wonders they had to explore! Through encounters with Indian tribes whose cultures extend back as much as 10,000 years, they learned about the traditions of river and forest, but the poor peasants looking for land to cultivate or the gold-seekers ready to do anything to scratch out a living were also part of the reality of Amazonia. The expedition acknowledged what an important position humans occupied there.
Scientists tried to understand the ecosystem of the river and its relationship to the atmosphere through the metabolic activity of plants, animals and microorganisms. Footage and photos, often shot in poor conditions, captured pink dolphins and lazy iguanas. This two-year adventure changed the way the public looked at the Amazon. The Cousteau films have played a big part in today’s awareness of the need to protect one of the world ‘s unique heritages. An impressive collection of films resulted from this expedition: Calypso Countdown: Rigging for the Amazon (1982), Journey to a Thousand Rivers (1984), The Enchanted River (1984), Shadows in the Wilderness (1984), River of Gold (1984), Legacy of a Lost World (1984), Blueprints for Amazonia (1984), Snowstorm in the Jungle (1985).