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So little was known about the depths of the sea in the mid 1930s. An entire world lay beneath the ships, yet it was mostly inaccessible. Staring out at endless ocean waters had spiked the imaginations of sailors for centuries. Tales of fantastic beasts and cursed currents filled their minds and kept them planted firmly on the decks. But for Jacques Cousteau, a curious incident with a borrowed set of swim goggles set his mind reeling. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” he recorded.
It was by accident, literally, that Jacques Cousteau took that first plunge. He was enrolled in the French Naval Academy with his heart set on becoming a pilot. But a car accident cut short his dream leaving him unable to fly, so he changed his plans and dove into the sea.
For five decades Jacques Cousteau never lost his passion for the water planet. He explored as deep as the depths would allow, first developing the aqualung, improving on other SCUBA designs, and later using deep-sea submarines. Sea life always filled him with wonder. There was so much to observe, so much to write about and photograph. From oceans to the great lakes, to the world’s largest rivers, Cousteau wanted to see it all.
From the Manatee to the starfish, the iridescent algae and the graceful octopus; the water world is home to some of our most magnificent and delicate creatures. And Jacques Cousteau wanted us to know how precious each one is. The beauty of the under water world was his passion. He devoted his life to documenting and protecting it. To see a whale breach or raindrops of jellyfish ride the currents was the greatest affirmation of the diversity of life in a grand tapestry we all belong to. Cousteau knew that awe and wonder inspire us all to be better human beings. To feel nature is to feel the warmth of a world we long to belong to. Sometimes it takes a plunge into the ocean, and other times, it just takes a look at the treetops as we walk by.
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