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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about, Jacques Cousteau, who would have been 90 this week, and how his undersea explorations are continuing.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood

(Music up and under: "He's my favorite frogman, you all know. With his black wetsuit he's ready to go. He's got a minisub and he don't care if he don't ever come up for air. 'Cause he's Jacques Cousteau. Well hello. Can you go?...")

CURWOOD: Jacques Cousteau, perhaps the most famous undersea explorer of our times, would have been 90 this week. Cousteau helped invent the aqualung, a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus which we now call by its acronym SCUBA. He also documented ocean life for film and television, and won a 1957 Academy Award for his film The Silent World. Jacques Cousteau served as the eyes for the a public who had never before witnessed ocean life so intimately. And now marine biologists are asking the animals themselves to work as documentarians of the watery world. Sea turtles, sperm whales, and even the great white shark are just some of the recruits who, like Cousteau, now serve as eyes under the sea. Here's how it works. Cameras are sealed in water-tight vessels and strapped carefully to the back of, say, a shark. The shark-turned-motion picture maker then swims away, the critter cam recording its every movement. The images recovered from these underwater shoots show dizzying nosedives, high-speed chases, and frenzied feasts, all straight from the shark's fin. With this technique, researchers can reveal a world otherwise hidden from human view, and, in the words of Jacques Cousteau, "to look through nature's keyhole." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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