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Jean-Michael Cousteau, Famed Ocean Explorer, Honored at Ocean Symposium

Jean Michael Cousteau HonoredJean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society, was the symposium distinguished lecturer and winner of the National Ocean Champion Award. Cousteau spoke of his work, much of which is inspired by his father, Jacques Cousteau.

 In 1999, Cousteau created the Ocean Futures Society which was built to be “The Voice for the Ocean.”

“I created the Ocean Futures Society to honor the philosophy of my father after he passed away,” said Cousteau. “For me, the mission of Ocean Future Society is to bring the ocean home, whether you live along the coastline or way inland we are connected to the ocean and we all depend on the ocean.”

Cousteau has been on the ocean his entire life following in the footsteps of his father’s work. Much of his work has been on research ships Calypso and Alcyone. When Cousteau was seven, his father threw him overboard with nothing but a scuba tank on his back, and since that time he has worked hard to explore the ocean and preserve his father’s legacy.

To ensure that the Ocean Figures Society continues to grow and keep up with ever evolving technology, the Ocean Futures Society is going to focus on expeditions that are in 3D, bring young people to these expeditions and play the shows in theaters and IMAX. They also plan on doing live programs from under water and throughout the rest of the world.

Throughout his life, Cousteau has been able to communicate the importance of the ocean to millions of people by using many different forms of technology. While this is a step forward from his father, it’s certainly in the same direction.  

“I don’t believe I’ve ever gone on my own path,” said Cousteau. “I think I’ve evolved and perhaps gone in a slightly different way than my father sometimes but always in the same direction. If he was here I would expect him to say I’m doing the right thing.”

Cousteau believes that if we are able to preserve the ocean and manage it properly we can have it for a long time. Right now, however, he says we are polluting it, losing a lot of species and destroying a lot of habitats.

Former Mayor of Belmar, Kenneth Pringle, won the State Coastal and Ocean Leadership Award for his work in keeping the Jersey shore a safe, clean and desirable place to be. Pringle was a leading force in turning the Shark River into a “Federal No Discharge Zone” and instituting an annual underwater cleanup for the river. Pringle feels that the users of the river are committed to keeping it clean.

“The Shark River is an enormous recreational asset,” said Pringle. “But for children the ability to swim in the river is an opportunity to be introduced to the water in a way that they would not be able to if it was not clean.”

Pringle also remembers the summer of 1987, when there were many days of empty beaches due to medical waste wash-up on the jersey shore. Now Pringle is proud that a vacation at the Jersey shore is a desirable one and a place that people want to be.

Both Pringle and Cousteau worked hard to ensure the future of the ocean and encourage the involvement of young college students in the work, as well.

“I know any mayor would love to have a college student with a scientific interest in the environment be a part of their environmental commission,” said Pringle. “Just donating your time as an intern to some of those organizations would be enormously beneficial to communities and rewarding to the student.”

“Number one, as a student you need to get a diploma of some kind, and then you need to follow your dream,” said Cousteau. “We know very little about the ocean, but you cannot protect what you do not understand. What’s exciting is that today we have everything to discover. I can guarantee that young people are listened to by the decision makers of today.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme

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