Jean-Michel Cousteau – Keynote Speaker
A French explorer, ecologist, educator, and film producer for more than four decades, Jean-Michel Cousteau has used his vast experiences to share his love and concern for our planet.
The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel has investigated the world’s oceans aboard Calypso and Alcyone for much of his life. he first dived with an aqua-lung in 1945 when he was 7 years old. Although he went to school to study architecture, he became part of his father’s cousteau society, serving for twenty years as executive vice president before launching at his own expense in 1993 to produce environmental films.
honoring his heritage, jean-michel founded the ocean futures society, a non-profit marine conservation and education organization in 1999 to carry out this pioneering work.
As a spokesperson for ocean future, jean-michel serves as a diplomat with a passion for the environment, meeting with leaders and policymakers, and communicating with the public through a variety of media. he has produced over 80 films, received an emmy, peabody award, 7 d’or and cable ace award. He continues to produce environmentally oriented adventure shows and television specials, public service announcements, multimedia programs for schools, marine web-based content, books, magazine articles, newspaper columns, and public speaking.
in 2006, jean-michel’s initiative to protect the northwestern hawaiian islands brought him to the white house where he screened his pbs-kqed documentary, voyage to kure, for president george w. bush. The president was inspired and, in June 2006, declared the then-1,200-mile chain of islands a marine national monument; the largest marine protected areas in the world.
in february 2002, jean-michel became the first person to represent the “environment” at the opening ceremony of the olympics in salt lake city. He was also appointed to the Board of Directors of the Athens Environmental Foundation for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, with a mandate to design and support projects that will improve the environment in Greece and beyond.
in the first attempt to return a captive orca to the wild, jean-michel and his team at ocean futures society pioneered both breeding techniques and scientific research on wild orcas. In 2002, Keiko, the captive “Free Willy” killer whale, was released back into the wild and entrusted to the Humane Society for continued long-term care and monitoring.
in another “first,” on earth day 1997, jean-michel led the first live underwater interactive video chat on microsoft internet, from the coral reefs of fiji, celebrating the international year of the reef and responding questions from “armchair divers” around the world. in 1998, jean-michel participated in a live downlink from the space shuttle columbia to cnn to highlight the international year of the ocean, discussing nasa’s contribution to awareness of the ocean. ocean with astronaut and marine biologist rick linnehan.
jean-michel also has a long history of innovative design in the field of architecture and the ocean. he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the paris school of architecture and remains a member of the ordre national des architectes. His projects include artificial floating islands, schools, and a center for advanced marine studies in Marseille, France. In 1969 he led the transformation of a 100,000-square-foot section of the former Queen Mary ocean liner into the Museum of the Living Sea in Long Beach, California. he also led the design and development of parc oceanique cousteau in paris, an innovative public attraction to teach visitors about the ocean without displaying captive animals. Most recently, Jean-Michel has been involved with the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, an environmentally and culturally oriented family resort, conceived as a model for demonstrating to the business community the economic benefits of environmental concern and design. In order to expand the impact of eco-tourism, he created L’Aventure Jean-Michel Cousteau, a flagship resort dive operation in Fiji. he is currently forming an action society to expand this ecologically responsible model to other sites. in 2005, the resort received condensate’s highest award for environmental design of a small resort.
cousteau is currently working on a documentary highlighting the epic and disastrous 2010 gulf oil spill in which 11 workers were killed during a deepwater rig explosion 50 miles (80 km) off the coast of louisiana.
in 2012 he published the book my father, the captain: my life with jacques cousteau.
honors -honorary doctorate of humanities 1976 from pepperdine university -dema outreach award 1994 -1995 nogi award from the academy of underwater arts and sciences -1996 seakeepers award from showboats international -1996 john m. Olguin Marine Environment Award from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. -1998 White House National Ocean Conference Environmental Hero Award -2003 Inducted into the International Diving Hall of Fame -2003 British Virgin Islands National Parks Trustee -2003 Ocean Hero Award -The Reef Check Poseidon/Lifetime Achievement Award -2008 Jules Verne Adventures Lifetime Achievement Award -2008 National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award