Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dachshunds in Pop Culture: Jacques Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997) was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, scientist, and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He was the most famous undersea explorer in the world, known by his dozens of books and films from the 1950s until his death in 1997. The co-inventor of the aqualung (an underwater breathing apparatus) in 1943, Cousteau also pioneered techniques in underwater photography and explored the oceans of the world aboard his vessel Calypso. His filmmaking career included three Oscars, frequent television specials and the series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau (1966). In his later years Cousteau devoted himself to educating the public on environmental issues, and working with the Cousteau Foundation, founded in 1973 to further marine research and exploration.
Jacques Cousteau was also a dachshund lover. It's amazing to think of the wonderful and mysterious things that his dachshunds, which included red smooths 'Bulle' and 'Scaphandrier,' must have experienced in their travels with their beloved human. The above photo of Mr. and Mrs. Cousteau, and presumably Bulle, was taken in 1959 on board the Calypso.

Bulle muzzles 'Douala,' a mona monkey named for the Cameroons port where diver Jean Delmas bought her. The monkey, whose fierce attachment to Delmas became a shipboard joke, sulks on her master's shoulder. (Source: National Geographic Magazine, 1958)
Scaphandrier, whose French name means "deep-sea diver," deigned to take an occasional swim, but preferred to pace the quarter-deck with the captain and supervise the cook's activities in the galley. Scaphe never tired of looking into the hose for rabbits. (Source: National Geographic Magazine, 1954)
Cousteau with Scaphandrier on his lap, on board Calypso, 1955. See 3 additional photos at MIT Museum.

Finally, singer/songwriter John Denver was a huge admirer of Jacques Cousteau and his championing of environmental issues, and wrote the song Calypso in 1975. Enjoy it here, along with some of Cousteau's fantastic underwater adventures. We're saddened when we think of what Mr. Cousteau would feel about the state of our world's waters today, and the massive loss of creatures who inhabit them. Have a great Sunday.

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