Fabien Cousteau

Photo: Kip Evans – Mission 31


Aquanaut, ocean conservationist, and documentary filmmaker, Fabien Cousteau is known for his unconventional ideas and his audacity that defies the norm. Diving deep into the heart of the ocean to unveil its wonders and mysteries, Fabien Cousteau is the living example that everything is possible. An interesting conversation with a man whose dreams have shaped his life.

By Victoria Adelaide | OCT 23. 2017

Victoria Adelaide: In June 2014, you lived for 31 days and nights underwater with a team of five others, surpassing your grandfather’s record. Is this something you would like to do again? If so, after what you’ve learned from Mission 31, are there things you would do differently and why?
Fabien Cousteau: Mission 31 was unique in many ways and served as a benchmark to push further in ocean exploration. Undersea habitats offer so many advantages which only that kind of platform can give. Of course, we would have to rekindle the interest in building modern facilities in order to fathom a next generation undersea colony. There are myriads of opportunities such a modern structure would create that past (and present) habitats could not due to their technological limits of the time.

VA: You are known for being a ‘doer’, a man of conviction who goes for what he believes in and follow his dreams. How has being born into a family with such illustrious visionaries shaped your mind?
FC: I have been considered a person with unusual ideas. Thanks to my grandfather, I do not consider the word “impossible” as I believe in the capability of human beings being able to perseverance and drive to go beyond the box and accomplish miracles. You are your own limitations.

VA: Was it difficult at times growing up as a “Cousteau”?
FC: Yes, of course, but I would never trade it for anything. It is what has made me into who I am. The unspoken challenge is people’s perception and comparison to an icon, a pioneer. As much as the legacy opens doors there are certain unfair expectations if one walks through it. That said, the wonders I’ve seen growing up, the amazing people I’ve been privileged to have met, and the unique experiences that have broadened my knowledge and perspective of the world are irreplaceable gifts.

VA: In 2016 you created ‘OLC’ (The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center) to raise awareness, educate and inform the world on how to preserve the planet and the ocean. You are seeking to restore the marine habitats by implementing several Special Projects such as Sea Turtle, Coral Reef and Mangroves restoration.
– What is the biggest threat the ocean faces today and how can we prevent it?
FC: People, or more specifically ignorance and lack of information/understanding. Education and a real sense of the urgency are the key.

– How is it going so far and what kind of help do you need most?
FC: Once engaged with the understanding of our ocean as our life support system, people have been amazing. For some reason the ocean is a stepchild of financial support. We are always seeking people who can help support our protecting our unique water planet by becoming part of our voice as well as financial support.

– What do you think are the major measures/changes that should be taken by our leaders to preserve our oceans and planet?
FC: Staving off climate change immediately, ending pollution in our ocean, as well as creating significant marine protected areas are three top line items. Until we treat our ocean as if our lives depended on it we have no long-term future as a species.

– Where are you on your collaboration with The Curaçao Film Institute?
FC: We are in the development phase. Stay tuned.

– Can you tell us a bit about your documentary film ‘A Sweet Spot in Time’?
FC: It is the story of a young man’s journey realizing the daunting problem our ocean faces and finding innovative people implementing solutions. I’ve joined his journey as two generations driven by the same motivation to ignore depressive pessimism and to unite people and change our trajectory. A story of motivational hope for our future.

Photo Gallery Credits: Photo 1: Carrie Vonderhaar for Bonnet Rouge / Photo 2: Kip Evans Mission 31 / Photo 3: Courtesy of Fabien Cousteau

VA: You have spoken about your desire to build an underwater city. With the possibility of colonisation and human settlement on Mars becoming closer to reality every day, do you think the ocean could also be a new habitat and living space for human survival?
FC: Dreaming is half the battle. Engaging others to join in your quest to fulfil your dream is key. I do think it’s both possible and useful for a myriad of reasons to envision colonies below the surface of our water planet just as ones on floating rocks in distant space.

VA: How do you envision the building of such a city in an aquatic environment and how would it affect the development of the human species?
FC: If I told you that I might as well hand over the blueprints. I’ll let you imagine what it might be like. We have explored most of land based space on this planet, yet only explored less than 5% of our ocean world. Considering some cancer fighting agents come from sea fans, cures for malaria extracted from deep water sponges, antioxidants from mangroves, cosmetic agents replicated from fish antifreeze, and so on… what other discoveries do you think lie in wait?

VA: You have expressed your interest in exploring the waters of Mars. Could that be your next big adventure if it could ever be made possible?
FC: Yes, of course, and Europa and other liquid bodies for that matter… but we have so much left to explore here, there will be plenty to keep us busy until we can fathom reaching, and more importantly establishing a permanent presence there in a couple generations.

VA: If you could reach back in time to talk to the little boy that you once were, what would you tell him?
FC: I would say exactly what my grandfather did: “People Protect What They Love, They Love What They Understand, They Understand What They Are Thought”.
Remember- no water, no life… No healthy ocean, no healthy future…

... I believe in the capability of human beings being able to perseverance and drive to go beyond the box and accomplish miracles.``
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