It’s summertime, and you’re looking for any excuse to get on a boat. Booze cruise, sunset sail, or fishing charter, a day at sea is liberating for sure -- until you get seasick and liberate the contents of your stomach over the rail. When I got seasick as hell, I thought death was the only cure.
Only lately, when I met the legendary Jean-Michel Cousteau, was I convinced otherwise.
I was giddy to meet the guy, having declared as I kid that I’d one day become a marine biologist (it never happened), inspired by reruns of his father’s TV program from the ‘70s: The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. Jacques Cousteau, forever nicknamed The Captain, invented the Aqua-Lung during WWII -- the origins of scuba diving as we know it. Perpetually capped by an iconic red beanie, the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s eccentric Steve Zissou in The Life Aquatic, he embodied an intrinsic curiosity for the underwater universe. Whether in command of his famed exploration ship, the Calypso, or producing dozens of documentaries, including multiple Oscar-winners, Jacques Cousteau exposed us landwalkers to what lies beneath the surface, an alien environment with which we are forever entwined, and unquestionably dependent upon, for life on earth.
Now, just imagine what it was like growing up as that man’s kid.
“He threw me overboard at the age of 7 with just a tank on my back,” Jean-Michel Cousteau tells me in the Cayman Island outpost of his Ambassadors of the Environment program. I had zipped down to the Caribbean to learn more about JMC’s global education initiative on ocean conservation. By partnering with select Ritz-Carlton properties, Cousteau’s team can gently encourage affluent guests to return home with a love for ocean life, even when they’re surrounded by concrete.