Birthday Boy: Jacques Cousteau Would’ve Been 103 Today!

Jacques Cousteau undersea explorer
Popperfoto/Getty Images

It’s Jacques Cousteau’s birthday today, and we’re pretty sure it’s safe to say that his mother would have been proud of him. Ever heard of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus? If you haven’t, that’s because its acronym is a lot more popular — and for good reason — in everyday speech. That’s right; Jacques Cousteau is responsible for the first ever piece of SCUBA equipment, which was then called an Aqua-Lung. Actually, if we’re being honest, we like that first name a lot better. But, hey, we didn’t come up with the idea, so it’s fair that we shouldn’t get any say. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus it is. [diving saucer photo via spe235doran]

But you can’t limit Cousteau’s contributions to solving the whole how-do-we-breathe-underwater dilemma. In fact, it’s impossible to limit his contributions, merely because there are just so many. A lot of what we know about the underwater world today is thanks to this one remarkable French man. He’s responsible for some of the most revealing sea-related documentaries, including The Silent WorldThe Golden Fishand The World Without Sun.

And even when his own personal documentaries ceased, the world was eager to keep learning, and ABC, NBC, and Metromedia created a television series of their own, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, based on the ocean aficionado.

Jacques Cousteau’s relationship with the ocean and its creatures didn’t just reach a surface-level — no pun intended — knowledge. In 1986, Cousteau succeeded in using his influence in order to pass a moratorium on commercial whaling. And, because he just didn’t seem to want to stop, he also sought to prevent the French government from dumping nuclear waste into the Mediterranean Sea. What a guy, right?

And, perhaps this is just because we’re kind of devoted to all our parents out there, but we can’t help but be suckers for a smart, successful family man. Jacques Cousteau was the father of four children: Jean-Michel, born in 1938; Philippe, born in 1940 (and, unfortunately, passed away in 1979);  Diane, born in 1980 (yes, that is quite the jump); and Pierre-Yves, born in 1982. Today would have been Cousteau’s 103rd birthday, so they’re not exactly kids anymore, but he still managed to successfully raise children and teach the entire world about, well, another world. Here’s to you, Jacques Cousteau. Happy birthday!