On expedition in Antarctica in 1972, Cousteau divers realized a “first” when they explored under the icebergs and ice shelf. Calypso was equipped with a helicopter platform and a balloon to complete the equipment for aerial exploration. The ship barely escaped the onslaught of ice and storm she encountered. Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 13.00.34An extraordinary film, Voyage to the Edge of the World, retraces this epic adventure to the heart of the iceberg as well as Captain Cousteau’s apprehension as he watched Calypso about to be crushed between the steel jaws of the polar winter. Thanks to NASA’s satellite, this human adventure gave the world a modern vision of the ice continent and its stakes.
The continent, 25 times the size of France, revealed its beauty bit by bit, and its fragility as well. This extraordinary land harbours animals that are extremely vulnerable to human-induced changes. The ice shelf offers an ongoing spectacle of penguins milling about in colonies while seals strike out beneath the ice. Life has adapted itself to the icy conditions in surprising ways. Fish, squid, crustaceans and sea stars live in water that is -1 °C. This unique animal and plant life led Captain Cousteau to launch, in 1990, an international petition to safeguard the white continent. “Antarctica is an inestimable treasure that we must preserve intact for future generations,” he proclaimed.
He returned to Antarctica with children from six continents, staking a symbolic claim on behalf of future generations. Their voyage is depicted in the film Lilliput in Antarctica. Aware of the environmental danger s that industrial exploitation could bring to bear on Antarctica, Captain Cousteau demanded that the continent be declared a “natural reserve, land of peace and science.”