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Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Life Aquatic

Article by Camille Hunt 12.04.2017

Famed oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau talks jet lag, diving with sharks and the most exciting trip of all.

We asked Jean-Michel Cousteau — the renowned oceanographer, documentary filmmaker and founder of the Ocean Futures Society, which partners with The Ritz-Carlton for its Ambassadors of the Environment program — to share his favorite travel highlights. He willingly took the plunge.

What do you always take with you when traveling?

My dive card. It’s more important than my passport!

What’s been your most memorable trip to date?

When I learned to dive with great white sharks in South Africa. A colleague showed me that if there is no blood in the water and visibility is good, it’s OK to be in the water with the sharks. At one point a 16-foot great white came by, looked at us and just swam away. Later it came back and I was able to grab its dorsal fin and take a ride.

What’s your secret to coping with jet lag?

I’m permanently jetlagged. That’s my secret!

What did you learn about traveling from your father?

What I learned from my dad, who took my brother and I traveling on the Calypso [Cousteau’s late father’s ship], was to respect the people who are taking care of your life and security. To be very friendly with those you spend a lot of your life with, and be aware that you can learn from them, whether they are in charge of the engines, the navigation, the cleaning of the ship or the cooking.

Where would you love to go next?

The most exciting place is always the next one.

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