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Cousteau details new expeditions


By Joanna Stone

Jacques Cousteau came to MIT last Thursday for the birthday of his friend Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton '27, Institute professor emeritus and father of the electronic flash. Ironically, the Lecture Series Committee ordered no flashes at a talk Cousteau gave to students that evening in Kresge.

For 40 years, the world-reknowned oceanographer has worked to preserve clean water and air "for the people who find life in air and water." He believes that a new kind of science, "ecosociology" -- a mixture of ecology and sociology, will eventually develop from such concerns.

At the talk, his fourth at MIT, Cousteau spoke primarily about the environment. In particular, he cited the development of the double sail, which, he said, is far more efficient than the standard canvas sail for sea vessels. The double sail was developed at a time of oil shortages, but oil prices have since come down sharply. Some now question the sensibility of using the double sail.

Cousteau asked the audience to consider the other side of the question: shouldn't we save as much of our precious resources as possible and incur the least environmental risk that we can?

The rest of the talk focused on "Rediscovery of the World," an expedition in which Cousteau is currently involved. The expedition is studying the influence water has on the people of the world.

The five-year "Rediscovery" expedition is in its third year. By its end, the study is expected to yield 25 one-hour films and a number of books. Cousteau presented one of his films, entitled Water of the Wind.

The film takes place in the waters of Cape Horn and begins with what Cousteau described as one of the first underwater dives ever attempted there. While the film had many humorous moments -- including a feature on the first man event to round Cape Horn by electric sea scooter -- it contains a serious message. The film seeks to show that modern technology has enabled fisherman to remove squid from the waters around the cape faster than nature can reproduce them.

After the movie Cousteau opened the floor for questions. Asked if there was any chance of students getting involved in his work, Cousteau replied that the Cousteau Society currently has 350,000 members and that he hoped to increase the number of members in the future so that his society can convince people of the necessity to conserve the earth's resources.

Cousteau said that there were no plans for the "Rediscovery" expedition to conduct research in the Soviet Union, but he noted that he had been to the Soviet Union on many occasions. In the recent past, Cousteau was invited to the Soviet Union to do a live show which was broadcast to 100 million Soviets. He mentioned that he found the Soviet Union more open now than before.

One member of the audience asked Cousteau why there were no women on the "Rediscovery" expedition -- drawing a round of applause from those assembled. Cousteau answered that the current ships did not afford the crew enough privacy to have both men and women along. There is only one shower, he noted. However, a new ship -- the Calypso 2 -- is being developed and will be perfectly suited to women.

The question which received the best reception from both the audience and Cousteau was the last one. Cousteau was asked what his favorite fish is.

"For what, to eat?" Cousteau responded initially. He then added that his favorite fish in nature is the gouper. He then reworded the question and asked of himself what his favorite "sea creature" was. His new response was the orca, which Americans are "foolish enough" to call the killer whale.