National Geographic and The Cousteau Society begin rediscovery of the Mediterranean

4 June 2010

Will revisit sites where Jacques-Yves Cousteau first filmed underwater 65 years ago

Marseille, France (June 4, 2010)—The Cousteau Society and National Geographic scientists and filmmakers today launch a unique expedition from Marseille, France, aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s legendary research vessel Alcyone to explore the Mediterranean now — and in the past.

The expedition forms part of National Geographic Fellow Dr. Enric Sala’s research to establish baselines of ocean health. Working with Pierre-Yves Cousteau, Jacques’ youngest son, the voyage will use historical footage from Cousteau’s work from the 1940s as well as new footage to capture a unique snapshot: the Mediterranean then and now.
The expedition will set an easterly course from Marseille, to the Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica to the Medes Islands in Spain and finally Cabrera National Park south of Mallorca.
“The health of the Mediterranean Sea has been very precious to the people living around it since antiquity. And it has meant much more to many more people since Jacques Cousteau brought us its underwater treasures through his films and voyages many years ago,” said Sala. “We know that so much has been lost since then and we need to see how it looks today to determine what we can do to bring back marine abundance.”

Pierre-Yves Cousteau, president of Cousteau Divers, said, “My father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was born 100 years ago this year; he explored the underwater world for more than 60 years, with a special affection for the Mediterranean Sea. He captured pictures fostering appreciation of both the beauty and fragility of the seas. In a world that has undergone so many changes, these images are today a treasure, a unique testimony of the historical evolution of the oceans under constant human impact. I hope that using his archival footage as a touchstone will both raise public awareness and convince European and international leaders to expand ocean protections so that future generations can continue to marvel at the richness of the seas, as my father did 60 years ago.”

The expedition aims to assess current science about the health of the Mediterranean, including abundance of large fish and precious red coral, which have been exploited for millennia. Sala and Cousteau will report findings to national and community leaders as well as online via National Geographic and The Cousteau Society throughout 2010.
The expedition is supported by International Watch Company (IWC), the Waitt Family Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

“The Mediterranean is one of the ocean’s biodiversity hotspot and an important source of essential services to society. We need to know how much we have left, and what solutions are available to ensure that the sea can continue giving us many wonderful things,” said Professor Charles F. Boudouresque of the Université de la Méditerreanée.
During the expedition, the team will post some findings, images and video on www.ocean.nationalgeographic.com

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 375 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,200 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.  : www.nationalgeographic.com