Surprisingly, 99% of our total living space is composed of water; the destruction of water could lead to the destruction of the human race. Why, then, does no one seem to care what happens to our basic source of daily sustenance?
Fabien has spent most of his life in the water, so much that he prefers being wet to being dry. Considering his grandfather’s legacy, it’s safe to assume that the love of the ocean runs in their blood. His grandfather invented the very first SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), or the “aqualung.” He also set a world record when he stayed underwater in a submarine laboratory for 30 consecutive days. The documentary they produced following the expedition earned an Oscar Award.
It was in the early 1960s; as we’ve had astronauts exploring the universe, we have the likes of Jacques-Yves Cousteau exploring the seabed. Aside from the expedition’s visual entertainment, it was also important to understanding how man adjusts in such an environment. Among other things, they noticed that, under the sea, wounds heal faster and hair grows slower.
Fabien had not yet been born; as Jacques was always with family when not on a mission, he was often approached by wide-eyed kids and star-struck adults asking for his autograph. Fabien would later realize he is the grandson of the world’s pioneer in modern oceanography.
His father was also influenced by the Cousteau patriarch. It was not surprising for Fabien to follow in their footsteps; but he did more than just explore the waters. He braved to save the once-thriving oceans by becoming their spokesperson. The ocean is a huge part of our existence, and it is our duty to protect it. As his grandfather always said, “we can only protect what we love.”
Fabien is the son of Jean-Michel Cousteau, who was the first-born of the highly-acclaimed scientist and oceanographer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. His mother is Anne-Marie nee Lafon. Fabien was born in Paris on 2 October 1967, but spent his childhood shuttling between his home country and the United States.
Fabien grew up surrounded by the sea, due to his father being influenced by his grandfather to pursue a career in oceanography. The young Fabien was not aware of how famous his family was for ocean science until he was old enough to understand their contributions. As a young boy, he remembered his grandfather was always approached by strangers asking for his autograph or photo.
But neither his father nor grandfather exposed Fabien to diving until he showed interest himself. Around his fourth birthday, he was found buddy-breathing with a family friend in their swimming pool. His grandfather, of course, was thrilled. From then on, he always took the young Fabien with him and further nurtured the boy’s love for the water.
He was a very curious boy. Although still young, it was evident that his first love was exploring the outdoors:
"The wonders and mysteries of buried treasure or slimy worms lying in wait to be discovered in our back yard or just beyond the fence filled both my waking hours and my dream time. I spent hours propped up on the washing machine to get a better view thru the window at passing deer and birds. Losing myself in this fantastic natural world, my chores often took a back seat. My mother would occasionally reel me in to remind me of them and my teachers would do the same for my homework." (SOURCE: The Huffington Post)
It was his grandfather who inspired him to explore the infinite allure of the waters, which included scrubbing Calypso and Alcyone, his grandfather’s research boats.
Fabien’s grandfather was a pioneer in ocean exploration. Three years before Fabien was born, Jacques went 30 feet below the Red Sea in a mission called “Conshelf 2.” Jacques lived in his underwater laboratory for 30 days to study marine life and how humans have affected it. It gained much attention, even when there was no such thing as social media to pump up the hype.
The result of their sojourn was an award-winning documentary titled “World Without Sun.” It earned good reviews and inspired many to help protect the world’s oceans. His grandfather’s exploits always yielded great results which helped unlock the mysteries of the ocean.
Education and Early Career
No matter how much Fabien adored his grandfather, he still wanted to get out of Jacques’s shadow. He wanted to make something of his life on his own.
With his life geared towards business, he earned a Bachelor of Arts at Boston University and studied International Business Marketing at New York University. His first job was at a graphic design firm; he then had a stint working for a luxury textile business before moving on to “Seventh Generation,” a company which specializes in sustainable products.
But, no matter how much he tried to avoid working in environmentalism, he could not fight his fate. He’d soon find himself doing exactly what his father and grandfather did before him: being a good steward of the oceans.
In 2006, he released “Shark: Mind of a Demon,” a documentary he filmed while inside a shark-shaped submarine called “Troy.” Prior to that, Fabien partnered with National Geographic, Discovery, CBS, and PBS to film educational documentaries underwater.
In the same year he released “Shark: Mind of a Demon,” he partnered with Jean-Michel and his sister, Celine, to produce “Ocean Adventures.” Four years later, he would finally have his foray into philanthropy and become a full-fledged environmentalist.
“Plant a Fish”
Fabien launched “Plant a Fish” in 2010 to inspire society, especially younger generations, to protect our waters. Since man has become incredibly efficient at fishing, underwater resources continue to dwindle. Such has been the case since the 1950s; waking up one day to find our waters barren is not too far in the future.
For many years now, activists have been inspiring us to “go green” and learn how to conserve our natural resources. Using the same premise, Fabien urges people to “go blue” by taking part in helping Mother Nature replenish its water resources.
Because 99% of our living space is water, most of what we use and eat can be traced to the water; add to that our dependence on water for survival. But, rather than protect our waters, we pollute them. The way we hoard the seas’ produce is not helping, either.
Fabien partners with institutions to replant sea creatures into the water. Much like tree planting, Fabien hopes that students who take part in “Plant a Fish” will feel more responsible in taking care of the living creatures of the sea.
It’s been years since his grandfather passed away, but Jacques’s contributions to science are still very much felt. To celebrate Jacques’ “Conshelf 2” mission, Fabien organized “Mission 31.” This time, however, Fabien and his team of scientists will go twice as deep and one day longer than his grandfather did in his 1963 exploration.
This mission will also be more interactive, as they plan to take real-time videos of their dive and stream them to viewers. Using Skype, they will also chat with students from schools they partner with to answer their questions. Fabien hopes to uncover even more and upgrade the discoveries made 50 years ago. Although they were supposed to leave for the Florida Keys in November 2013, the U.S. government shut-down derailed some pertinent papers for the expedition. Despite the setback, Fabien is pushing through with Mission 31 for spring 2014. Why? Below is his reason:
“We spend 100 times more effort going to look for little green men in outer space than we do exploring our oceans. I love outer space, but a payoff there is about a thousand times less likely than in the oceans.” (SOURCE: Business Innovation Factory)
We couldn’t agree more.
Organizations and Programs Supported
- Plant a Fish
- New York Harbor School
- Cousteau Society
- Natural Entertainment
- Ocean Futures Society
- Bonnet Rouge (Red Hat)
- National Geographic
- SeaKeepers Society
- Water Innovation Alliance
- Millennium Project
- Blue Ocean Film Festival
- Plastic Pollution Coalition
- One World One Ocean
- Points of Light
- Antarctic Ocean Alliance
- Aquarius Foundation
- Bahamas National Trust
Awards and Achievements
- 1998-2006: Worked with reputable producers to produce exploration documentaries
- 2006: Released “Mind of a Demon” and partnered with father and sister to produce Ocean Adventures
- 2010: Launched “Plant a Fish”
- 2013: Program Director of “Mission 31”
- Spoke at Bloomberg, BLUE, Google Zeitgeist, Sundance, Tribeca Film Festival, DLD, Rio+20, BiF and TEDx (Los Angeles/ New York/ Rio)
- Co-launched “Natural Entertainment”
- Has his own production company, “Bonnet Rouge” (Red Hat)
Wikipedia (Fabien Cousteau)
Fast Company (Fabien Cousteau Plants A Fish In Brooklyn)
Plant A Fish (How It Works)
New York Daily News (Jacques Cousteau's grandson plans to live, work underwater for 31 days in record-breaking deep-sea adventure)
Gotham Magazine (In Deep: Fabien Cousteau)
CNET (Dive on in: Fabien Cousteau and the urge to live under the sea)
Gismag (Mission 31: Fabien Cousteau aims to top his grandfather's underwater exploits)
CNN (Cousteau: Why I'm going to live in an underwater village)
Live Science (Underwater Mission by Jacques Cousteau's Grandson Postponed)
LinkedIn (Fabien Cousteau)
The Huffington Post (People Protect What They Love)
RL Magazine (The Aquanaut Next Door)
Good.is (Why I'm Going 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Save Our Oceans)
Business Innovation Factory (Fabien Cousteau)
Town and Country (Going Deep)
The Telegraph (Fabien Cousteau recalls the influence of his grandfather Jacques Cousteau)