Jacques-Yves Cousteau was well-known as an explorer of the sea and as an
environmentalist, calling for the protection of the sea. He was also an inventor
whose invention has helped many today to scuba dive.
Cousteau's dream was to
be able to explore the sea freely. Before his invention of the Aqua-Lung, this
was not possible. People were able to dive then. However, heavy helmet and
boots, and a hose that supplied air, which was perhaps connected to a ship on
the surface of the water, added to the cumbersome outfit. Divers could not move
freely then but had to struggle across the seabed. This was not for Cousteau and
he realized he could make vital changes. For air, the diver could carry a
cylinder of compressed air with a hose that allowed him to breathe in and out.
Through a joint effort with a French engineer, Emile Gagnan, the Aqua-Lung was
The Aqua-Lung was unique in that it allowed the diver to go to deep waters,
yet, simultaneously, protected him from being crushed by the pressure of the
water. The Aqua-Lung, in effect, opened up the sea to man. We can now explore
underwater caves, study the wrecks of ships from long ago, and observe the
behavior of underwater creatures.
Cousteau also oversaw the building of a tiny submarine called the 'Diving
Saucer', which can collect underwater specimens and even take photographs. Thus,
even if a person cannot dive to an area because it is simply too deep and
dangerous, the 'Diving Saucer' can be used instead.
Through his work, Cousteau became aware of the increasing pollution of the
sea. He wanted others to be aware of it also-the overfishing and the pollution
that had damaged ocean life. Cousteau passed away in 1997, but his work is
carried on by his son. Many people, who are just as concerned about the state of
the oceans, continue to fight for the protection of the sea today.