We’ve just passed the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jacques Cousteau, the famed underwater explorer who died in 1997. It was Turner Classic Movies that turned me on to this fact, by running a series of classic Cousteau TV documentaries, including Cousteau Odyssey and the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.
I practically idolized Cousteau during the period that these shows aired. In fact, as a college student who had taken up scuba diving (in chilly Rhode Island waters), I wrote to Captain Cousteau, basically asking for a summer job. To my delight, he wrote back, saying that he’d like to meet me the next time he was in New York. I waited, and didn’t hear from him. I wrote again, and heard back again. But unfortunately, the meeting never happened. (This was long before email or cheap long distance telephone, so the whole thing hinged on snail mail.) Despite that disappointment, I maintained my interest in underwater exploration. I even used it in my SF—with a novelette in F&SF, and later, with my novels Seas of Ernathe and The Infinite Sea.
I was feeling nostalgic for those days tonight, poking around online—and in the process, I came across this Ted Talk by National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry. It’s a great talk, and is filled with phenomenal undersea images. Give it a look.