The seas that surround Australia harbour a luxuriance of life and a veritable coral continent. In the 1990’s, Captain Cousteau and Calypso explored this marine expanse from north to south, while a land team travelled throughout the interior to meet the Aborigines and learn about their culture, the world’s most ancient.
Some 2,500 coral formations, some as big as a house, comprise the Great Barrier Reef. Divers moved among calcareous treelike forms, the skeletons of microscopic animals called “polyps.” This oasis of life, refuge for innumerable multicoloured fishes, offered up an extraordinary spectacle for Calypso’s cameramen to bring back to the entire world: images of millions of ovules and spermatozoids released one time a year by the polyps during the night of the full moon.
On land, in the middle of unique animal life that evolved in isolation on the island continent, Aborigines were trying to preserve their identity and their way of life, closely tied to Nature and her gifts. These men and women are the descendants of nomads who arrived in canoes more than 40,000 years ago. Cousteau visited archaeological sites where rock paintings evoke the Dreamtime, the mythical dimension where aboriginal thought puts all creation.
The kangaroos, duck-billed platypus and lungfish, capable of breathing out of water, clearly illustrated the unique evolution of life in Australia. The divers yielded to strong emotions wren they stroked a saltwater crocodile, or brushed past a sea snake with death-dealing venom. A/cyone’s crew studied great white sharks for two years and shed new light on these animals that are certainly dangerous but that manifest no hostility toward human beings.