Plant A Fish

Fabien Cousteau learned to swim soon after walking, so it's no surprise he is following in the footsteps of his famed grandfather, ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, whose voyages on the Calypso long ago captivated the world's attention. Fabien wants to focus the same sort of attention on the reefs and marine environment, which he hopes to help repair, one bit at a time. He wants the whole world to Plant A Fish.

By Ron Gluckman /in the Maldives

CONSIDERING THE LINEAGE, IT'S NO SURPRISE to find that Fabien Cousteau, the third generation in a line of illustrious marine explorers, is also working to protect and preserve the world’s oceans and reefs. You can say it’s in his water.

The grandson of Jacques Cousteau, whose voyages on the Calypso long ago captivated the world and increased awareness of life in the oceans and at the far edges of the planet, lives in New York, but also roams the globe, working on documentaries about aquatic issues. Last year, on the hundredth anniversary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth, he launched Plant A Fish, a charity that works to restore the life of rivers, lakes and oceans.

When he isn’t making ocean documentaries, diving or restoring reefs, Cousteau likes to ride motorcycles. He admits to being a bit of a fanatical collector, with eight bikes in various vintages and stages of restorations. But he spends much of his life on, or in, the water.

In October, on his 44th birthday, Cousteau commemorated the 40th anniversary of his first undersea plunge (as a 4-year-old with his famous grandfather Jacques) with a dive.

We caught up with Cousteau in the Maldives, where Plant A Fish will help restore reefs in one of the world’s smallest – but reef-richest – nations. The Maldives sprawls over 90,000 square miles, but 99 per cent is underwater.

Plant A Fish has been chosen by the resort group Six Senses as a partner for reef work in the Baa Atoll, recently made the Maldives’ first UNESCO biosphere. Plant A Fish is also involved in protecting mangroves in Florida and turtle restoration in El Salvador.

Is the Cousteau name and legacy a gift, or a burden?
Cousteau: A bit of both, really. It definitely opens doors, but once you step through, the expectations are very high. The Cousteau name is like a platinum standard.

Is your marine conservation work in your blood?
If I wasn’t doing something in the oceans, people would ask me ‘Why not?’ But I’ve never had any pressure. I took my first dive with my grandfather exactly 40 years ago, on my fourth birthday. I think once you take a peek under the great blue, it’s hard to turn your back. I’m addicted to ocean exploration. We’re facing some very real challenges in this world, and we have to start fixing things. With Plant A Fish, we want to replenish the oceans in much the same way as many people are trying to replant the forests. These are the great rainforests of the seas.

What will Plant a Fish do?
We will work on projects to repair marine environments, and also educate and empower people to get involved in being part of the solution. We want help influence the world to be a better place, specifically, to reconnect with the ocean and to feel the same passion most people felt when they first saw my grandfather’s documentaries. It’s a daunting task, but we can do it.

Ron Gluckman is an American reporter who is based in Asia since 1991, roaming around the region for numerous publications, including Centurion, which ran this story in November 2012.

Pictures by Ron Gluckman

All words and images are copyright RON GLUCKMAN, protected by international law barring any reproduction or reprint without the  permission of Ron Gluckman

To return to the opening page and index

home.jpg (5606 bytes)

push here