Profile: Pierre-Yves Cousteau
The son of world-famous French explorer, inventor, film-maker and environmentalist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, made history when he took a dive in Singapore waters last week and told of his work managing the Cousteau Divers, transforming the way people dive and playing a decisive role in the preservation of the marine environment. Pierre-Yves Cousteau says: “We will become stewards of the oceans – raising concern, knowledge, awareness and hope around them for the future of our blue planet.”
Report from the Cousteau Divers and New Paper, Singapore:
Pierre-Yves Cousteau, the son of world-famous French explorer, inventor, film-maker and environmentalist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, made history when he took a dive in Singapore waters on Wednesday.
He is visiting Singapore for the first time and it was his first-ever scuba dive in Asia.
The dive took place near Sisters Islands and Pulau Hantu.
Says son Pierre-Yves Cousteau: “If he were alive today, my father would surely be awed by the technology and skill behind the work of his cinematic successors, who share my father’s philosophy that ‘people protect what they love – and we love what enchants us.”
“He would be gratified by the creation of marine protected areas in many countries and by the growing community of scientists working to advance understanding and conservation of ocean biodiversity, such as those completing the first Census of Marine Life and its inventory of ocean species,” he adds.
“However, I know he would also be distressed by the ongoing pillage of oceans by industrialized fisheries, by those who decimate the seabed and indiscriminately harvest fish and by-catch by the shipload, by the catastrophes that stem from exploiting off-shore oil resources, and by the acidification of seawater due to greenhouse gases, which threatens the health of all life on Earth.”
“In this year, the 100th anniversary of his birth, we owe it to his memory to ensure that the spirit of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his work inspires new generations,” says Pierre-Yves.
“The oceans occupy nearly 72% of our planet’s surface and they contain more than 97% of all our planet’s water. They are the place where life appeared 3.8 billion years ago and remain the largest living space in our known universe. Nevertheless, less than 20% has been explored by humans and we have already damaged most of it.” says Tarik Chekchak, the Cousteau Society’s Director, Science and Environment.
“Our research with UNESCO into how best to educate people and protect our oceans and indeed all our vital waterways is more necessary today than ever – as the tragic event unfolding this past month in Gulf of Mexico sadly demonstrates.”
Under Pierre-Yves’s leadership, the Cousteau Society is developing a monitoring program of the oceans, Cousteau Divers, which will involve the active participation of divers worldwide.
“By uniting a community of divers concerned about the marine environment, Cousteau Divers will bring the legacy of Jacques-Yves Cousteau to life, making each diver an agent of the study and conservation of the aquatic realm,” says Pierre-Yves.
“Using the latest communication and multimedia technologies to engage and delight its members, Cousteau Divers will transform the way people dive and play a decisive role in the preservation of the marine environment. Cousteau Divers and Dive Centers will become stewards of the oceans – raising concern, knowledge, awareness and hope around them for the future of our blue planet.”
Starting this month, Pierre-Yves will also oversee a one-month filming expedition with the National Geographic Society in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Cousteau Society ship Alcyone. The goal: to document changes in the Mediterranean since Captain Cousteau’s first films in the 1940s and promote the expansion of marine reserves by demonstrating their economic viability and efficiency.
“By filming in three marine areas that have been protected as reserves for more than 25 years, the divers will also present a picture of the spectacular extent to which biodiversity richness can be restored,” says Pierre-Yves. “Using archival Cousteau footage, it is hoped this unique documentary will both raise public awareness and convince European leaders to expand marine reserves.”
Legendary marine explorer, inventor, innovator, filmmaker and environmental activist Jacques Cousteau was born June 11, 1910 in Saint André de Cubzac, a small town in southwest France.
To mark the centennial of his birth, the Cousteau Society is launching a year-long celebration in Paris with Cousteau’s global legion of admirers, and welcomes proposals from around the world .
The re-launch and tour of Calypso, the ship aboard which Cousteau created many of the world’s first glimpses of deep-sea life, will highlight the end of the centennial in 2011.
Instantly recognizable by his red cap and gaunt silhouette, Cousteau was just 33 when he co-invented the aqualung that enabled divers to explore ocean depths for extended periods, opening a window to an entire world then virtually unknown to humankind.
He went on to pioneer many areas, including documenting the sonar-like capabilities of dolphins, public demonstrations to protect the oceans from radioactive dumping and over-exploitation, and mass communication of marine research through films and television.
In 1996, the year before his death at age 87, Cousteau’s historic Calypso was sunk and badly damaged when a barge in Singapore accidentally rammed it. Today the vessel is in the Brittany region of France being refurbished under the direction of the Cousteau Society and l’Equipe Cousteau, led by Francine Cousteau, widow of the late explorer.
20 April 2011
This first hand report from Wild Shores of Singapore on Pierre-Yves Cousteau’s visit and a record of the amazing sea-life identified in and around the Singapore islands , better known for the abundance of container ships, oil refineries, day trippers and a tourist boats.
Sharing our shores with Pierre-Yves Cousteau
What a delight to spend almost the entire day sharing our shores with Pierre-Yves Cousteau who is in town for ADEX 2011. Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and National Parks National Biodiversity Centre organised a trip for him to see our intertidal shores as well as to dive our waters!
It was very kind of them to invite me to come along for this special trip. Our first stop at sunrise was at Sisters Island!
Also with us were journalists and photographers from The New Paper and My Paper. So there were many stops to pose for photos. Here, in the lovely sunrise over St. John’s Island. It was also a great opportunity to showcase our shores to our local journalists!
How fortunate that we managed to get a glimpse of two very shy ‘Nemos’ or the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) hiding in their home, the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).
Another Giant carpet anemone had anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis). Jeff earlier shared how some people thought they had to dive in Manado to photograph these animals, only to find out that they are quite commonly seen on Singapore shores.
The visitors are great at spotting stuff. Like this tiny flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.) as well as an even tinier Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiela pustolosa).
These Very hairy hermit crabs (Dardanus lagopodes) are often seen on Sisters Islands, although they are quite hard to spot.
Pierre-Yves spotted this Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata)! These are also well camouflaged.
Jeff finds and shows us the Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) found in the lagoon.
Here’s a closer look at the clam. The stake next to it shows that Mei Lin has already recorded it in her study of the Giant clams in Singapore.
Pierre-Yves also finds a pair of Spider conch snails (Lambis lambis)! Although well camouflaged from above, they are very pretty underneath.
The hard corals that I saw seemed to have recovered from coral bleaching. They seemed much better than during my last trip here in Jan 2011. Although the lagoon seems a little sparse. Perhaps not all of the corals survived the bleaching?
Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae) are still abundant on Sisters Island! They seemed quite well and unbleached. More about coral bleaching on Bleach Watch Singapore.
Oh, a hidden Blue-spotted fantail ray (Teaniura lymma) is seen! Only by the little blue tail is sticking out as the rest of the fish was hidden under the sand and a hard coral.
Wow, Ivan Choong found a pair of seahorses! They blend right in with the branching sponges that are commonly seen here. They are probably Tiger-tailed seahorses (Hippocampus comes).
Fortunately, today we didn’t meet Mr Stonefish (Synanceia horrida). But we saw Lined eel-tail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus), rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae), lots of other small fishes. And this False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis)!
Ivan also finds a reef octopus! Ivan runs Dive Books which will also be at ADEX 2011 with special offers on marine reference books.
Another awesome part of the trip was that we travelled on the Seashaw, at the kind arrangement of Howard Shaw. This yacht is so enormous that it had to park quite a way off the Sisters Islands. We took a smaller boat there.
Before we left for our intertidal trip, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast.
After the intertidal trip, the more intrepid among us went for a dive at Sisters Island. Here’s Jeff starting them off. They saw sea fans, feather stars, and lots more.
Then we were off to Pulau Hantu for the second dive. The Seashaw is so awesomely huge that it has a crane to lift up the smaller boat.
In between the trip and dives, Jeff gave two presentations about our shores and some of the issues that impact them as well as the many efforts for our shores. With lots of pretty pictures!
Pierre-Yves also shared with us his “Cousteau Divers” programme, a global network of divers engaged in the study and preservation of marine ecosystems worldwide. It comes with a great checklist that divers can use to record and share their sightings.
After a delightful lunch, the team went for their second dive despite the rainy weather. It sure looks cold. I’m glad I could stay warm and dry on the big boat.
They saw lots of stuff at Pulau Hantu! I sneak some shots of photos that Jeff took. Like this pair of mating nudibranchs.
And a black anemonefish with white spots, the Dascyllus anemonefish (Dascyllus trimaculatus)! This fish is not often seen in our waters. They also saw a grey nurse shark, stingrays. Before the dive started, Uma spotted a sea turtle! We are glad Singapore’s shores put up a good show today despite the wet weather. Especially since this is Pierre-Yves’ first dive in Asia!
Our special guest had to work very hard all day. After the dives, more interviews with the journalists.
All too soon, the trip ended and we leave the awesome Seashaw!
Pierre-Yves Cousteau will be at ADEX 2011 to give talks, and will also be appearing on radio and other media to share about marine conservation.
For full pictorial coverage of the sea life observed by Pierre-Yves Cousteau on this trip, please visit the Wild Shores blogspot.