Anthony Laughton: on the glamour boy of oceanography, Jacques Cousteau

Anthony Laughton considers the figure of Jacques Cousteau in relation to scientific oceanography of the 1950s.

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Could you say something of the view of oceanographers and more generally of Jacques Cousteau at this time?

I think the professional fulltime oceanographers felt that he was something of the icing on the cake and he was the glamour boy of oceanography. And although he would tend to speak on behalf of oceanography in his capacity at the Musée Océanographique, he was not very highly respected for his genuine science, but he was respected for his published – publicity of science. 

Did you share that view yourself of him?

Yes, I think I did. He may have influenced what people thought about oceanography, because they would have seen his films on television, elsewhere. What I – my reaction to such a suggestion was that, yes, fascinating, but those techniques are not available for looking at the deep ocean. You cannot dive into the deep ocean. The deep ocean – anything below 200 metres, and it goes down to 5,000 metres, is the unknown world that has to be addressed in a different way. The Cousteau approach doesn’t work there. And so what the NIO was doing was really looking at that huge amount of the ocean which is not available to those techniques.

  • Interviewee Anthony Laughton
  • Duration 00:01:42
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 10/21/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/29

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