When the name Cousteau is spoken, it might be the legendary Jacques Yves Cousteau and his way of exploring the ocean that comes to mind. This blog post is not dedicated to Jacques, but another Cousteau who has caught the world’s attention and set a positive footprint on this planet: Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Yves Cousteau.
At her grandfathers time the focus was on exploring. He helped develop the Aqua Lung, which can be called the predecessor to what we know today as SCUBA-gear. The invention of the Aqua Lung started a new era underwater, where scientists and ocean lovers could start exploring the oceans many wonders.
Alexandra grew up in a different time. The world is starting to realize that water is not an unlimited resource and that the ocean is not an unlimited sink where we can dump stuff without consequences. Today Alexandra is working to preserve and protect what her grandfather discovered many years ago, and trying to develop new ways of communicating about ocean issues. She once said:
"I believe water will be the defining crisis of our century — from droughts, storms, and floods to degrading water quality. We'll see major conflicts over water and the proliferation of water refugees. We inhabit a water planet, and unless we protect, manage, and restore that resource, the future will be a very different place from the one we imagine today."
So who is Alexandra Cousteau?
Alexandra Marguerite Clementine Cousteau was born on 21st March 1976 in Los Angeles, California. Her parents were Philippe Cousteau and Jan Cousteau. They were both involved with photography and addressing environmental issues just as Philippe’s father Jacques.
Alexandra completed her Bachelor's degree in 1998 from Georgetown College in political science (International Relations). She was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Georgetown University.
Alexandra’s grandfather initiated work on conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of ocean and water resources. Her father also followed in her grandfather’s steps and today Alexandra has also kept the family legacy.
"Water is our most precious and interconnected natural resource. It sustains all ecosystems, communities, and economies from local watersheds to the seas. It's vital to sustaining our health, safety, and the environments in which we live and work. Simply put, water is life."
You can say that she started her career when she was just four months old. Alexandra went to Easter Island with her parents on her “first expedition”. When she turned three, she continued exploring in Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, and Uganda on her father’s arms. Those visits were not just exciting memories, she started to experience how her father and his crew worked to protect the ocean.
With the help of her brother (Philippe Cousteau Jr.), they founded EarthEcho in 2000, to make sure that their family’s legacy would continue. Alexandra worked on ocean conservation problems in Central America from 2005 to 2007. In 2014, she led an expedition to Canada with the help of Ottawa River keeper as well as Aqua Hacking.
Alexandra is also passionate about filmmaking and started to find new ways to engage people in the water issues happening around the world, in a new way. In 2008 Alexandra was honored as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Her work with filmmaking resulted in the Blue Legacy expeditions that have visited 6 continents and has resulted in more that 100 award winning short films related to water crises on Earth.
She was once asked if her destiny was predetermined since she was born with the Cousteau name:
"My father and grandfather were both great inspirations," she acknowledges. "The best example they gave me was the importance of living a life of consequence, value, and meaning. I honor their memories by creating a legacy of my own by speaking out for the preservation of our blue planet."
We hope that you enjoyed reading about the life and work of Alexandra Cousteau. Interested in more reading? Read our post on marine biologist and ocean explorer Her deepness - Sylvia Earle.
Amalie Marstrand and team VANDAYA