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Cousteaus Carry On

A third generation of diving’s famous family follows in the footsteps of pioneering grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau 

ByJean-Michel Cousteau

Fabien, Céline and Jean-Michel Cousteau in NYC
Photos: Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

As a proud father, I always look forward to watching the accomplishments of my children and these past two months of May and June proved to be an amazing milestone for both Fabien Cousteau and Celine Cousteau.

Continuing the pioneering work of my late father Jacques-Yves Cousteau in ocean exploration and environmental awareness, my children, Fabien and Celine, led their own expeditions.  Celine was land based in the largest and most biologically rich rainforest, the Amazon; and Fabien lived under the sea for an entire month. Please allow me this opportunity to brag a bit and share why I am so proud of their hard work and conservation efforts in turning the tide, making a difference and expanding our efforts to improve the quality of our life on the our blue planet, Ocean.


My daughter Céline and her team traveled to a remote part of the Amazon to film her documentary, Tribes on the Edge, in the Vale do Javari region in the Brazilian Amazon. This is the same region where we visited in 2007 during the filming of my PBS documentary Return to the Amazon.  The plight of the people in Vale do Javari touched her so deeply that she has dedicated the last several years of her life to raising the awareness and the funds needed to revisit the region and tell a deeper story of the people who live there.  “It is undeniable that humans and nature are intimately interconnected. Where there is environmental destruction, humans suffer and when indigenous communities vanish, we lose the guardians of the ecosystem,” said Celine Cousteau, founder and executive director of CauseCentric Production.

Céline has enjoyed a long love of the Amazon region. In fact, as a 9 year-old she was a part of my father’s 1982-1983 expedition where we explored the fabled rainforest over a 2-year period.  She spent her school breaks with my father and me aboard Calypso. I have watched her thrive over the past decades and I couldn’t be prouder that she just completed her own ‘return to the Amazon’. 

I invite you to learn more about her extraordinary expedition through her website and by watching the teaser for the film. Please show your support by following her and her team on facebook and twitter as well to spread the word about her incredible voyage.  Throughout their expedition they shared updates from the field when they had satellite uplink.  Celine’s nonprofit organization CauseCentric Productions produces and distributes multi-media content with an emphasis on short films to amplify the voices and communicate the stories of solution-focused grassroots organizations and individuals working on environmental and socio-cultural issues.


On June 1, my son Fabien ‘splashed down’ and entered the Aquarius habitat, the world’s only underwater research lab. There, he spent a total of 31 days living underwater with his team of scientists.  This was the first time a mission of this length has taken place in the history of Aquarius.  Aquarius rests 63 feet (19m) beneath the surface of the sea off the coast of Key Largo, FL and is operated by Florida International University (FIU).

Fabien’s groundbreaking expedition honored the 50th anniversary of the Conshelf Two mission led by my father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and taking a team on a 30-day mission. Mission 31 expanded the Cousteau legacy by one full day, 30 more feet depth and was successful in broadcasting every second of the adventure, exposing the world to the adventure, challenges and mysteries of what lies beneath the surface of the sea. 

During the 31-day mission, Fabien and his team spent about six to nine hours a day diving for scientific surveys while his Bonnet Rouge (meaning ‘Red Cap’ in French and named in honor of his grandfather) production team filmed short and long format documentaries for Mission 31. You can watch their YouTube videos here (

“There were a lot of challenges physically and psychologically,” said Fabien Cousteau, 46, who was born in Paris and grew up on his grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone.

“The benefit is that the backyard is infinite, the coral reefs are endangered and our scientific knowledge is critical in guaranteeing the long-term survival of the coral reefs. We marked a new era in ocean exploration and scientific research.”

I had the immense pleasure of joining Fabien in Aquarius on June 7th in honor of World Ocean Day on June 8th. I was also joined by my good friend, Dr. Sylvia Earle; we dove together alongside Fabien and his team to take part in this this tremendous opportunity to better understand the complexities and fravgilities of the coral reefs. 

I am a proud father everyday, but these past two months were extraordinary.  Please join me in congratulating Fabien and Céline as they successfully completed once in a lifetime journeys! Céline’s and Fabien’s 

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