On the recent trip to Fiji Dive magazine was quick to take an opportunity to interview the legendary Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder of Ocean Futures Society. He has been diving for 73 years. Jean- Michel has just been made an ambassador for Fiji Airways and was at the Dive Fiji Expo in March to give the key address. Gilbert Peterson started the conversation and he was off.
Fiji is nature’s paradise. He began. I’ve been coming here for 29 years and I’m an ocean guy and to me Fiji is the top underwater destination and it’s the same with the people. I like the culture. It’s a treasure.
Fijians are the nicest people I’ve met anywhere in the world. They’re the nicest human beings. I accepted becoming ambassador to Fiji Air because they bring people together, and we’re all connected to the ocean in one way or another. Fiji is the best destination in the world, in my opinion, probably because no one else has impacted Fijian culture until recently.
When we drink water we’re drinking from the ocean. It’s the same for the snow on the mountains. There’s only one water system. So we have to stop using the sea as a sewer. Every human being is connected in this way, through the oceans. The ocean is our life support system.
Out of about 27 countries in the Pacific, maybe 10 of them are going to go, those countries below five metres. A lot needs to be done. In the middle of the north Pacific on an island in Hawaii we found birds with 8 to 12 pieces of plastic in them. And there’s the micro plastics which are like zoo plankton which oysters and clams eat, and we eat them.
We need to sit down with fishing people who need to make a living. We don’t want them to lose their jobs but there must be limitations on how much they catch. Today there are huge opportunities to farm herbivores. Their poop can grow the plants they feed on, a closed system. It can be the same for fish farms. The farms can be near where the human population are. But farming carnivores is a big mistake.
There are hundreds of thousands of species still to be discovered but how can we protect what we don’t understand? Education is the solution for people to learn every human is connected. And we have the technology. We can film up close in slow motion and in 3D and I have made a film using this called “Wonders of the Sea.”
The Exosuit has been invented and I was invited to go down using it. (The technology of the EXOSUIT atmospheric diving system (ADS) maintains a cabin pressure of the surface and still allows the suit to bend due to a unique rotary joint invented by Dr Phil Nuytten. Developed and built in North Vancouver by Nuytco Research Ltd, the hard metal dive suit allows divers to operate safely down to a depth of 1000 feet and yet still have exceptional dexterity and flexibility to perform delicate work. EXOSUIT please visit nuytco.com. As Jean – Michel said elsewhere: “The most exciting feature of the EXOSUIT is that for the first time we can dive to 1000 feet in 5 short minutes, walk on the ocean floor, swim like a fish, be moved through the water with propellers, stay down for up to 10 hours and be back at the surface in 5 minutes.”)
But a person alone in the sea is in bad company so they had to make two of them, he said.
Things are changing. We’re going to stop abusing women. We’re going to stabilize the world population. We are the only species with the capacity to solve problems. Nature doesn’t care.
My father co-invented the regulator and tested it in Paris. When I was seven he put a tank on my back and every weekend we went diving. It’s never stopped. My aim is to scuba dive for 100 years! Now I’m often asked, ‘what is your favourite dive?’ and I say, ’the next one’ because you always see something new and I’m always looking forward.
(In a side note asked about New Zealand, Jean-Michel made special mention of New Zealand’s Orca expert Ingrid Visser. “She’s unbelievable,” he said.)