Cousteau Legacy Continues With Southern Ocean Advocacy

Husband-and-wife environmental advocates, explorers, and filmmakers Ashlan Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau Jr. visited Antarctica and Chile in February to doc the dire want for Southern Ocean conservation and the preservation of the intact and biodiverse Antarctic ecosystems for future generations.

Philippe’s advocacy is fueled by his ardour for carrying on his household’s legacy. His late grandfather was Jacques Cousteau, the French marine biologist who co-developed scuba gear known as the Aqua-Lung within the Nineteen Forties and devoted his life to marine conservation and exploration. The pioneering scuba gear allowed Jacques Cousteau’s group to movie underwater documentaries at depths of the ocean that the general public had by no means seen earlier than.

Philippe Cousteau’s late father, Philippe Cousteau Sr, adopted in Jacques’ footsteps, turning into a famend environmentalist, explorer, and cinematographer.


This interview with the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project marking World Penguin Day (April 25) has been edited for size and readability.

Q: What impressed your Southern Ocean journey?

Philippe: My grandfather Jacques and my father, Philippe, had been an inspiration to a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of individuals all over the world for many years. They opened our eyes to the wonders of the ocean, but in addition to the disaster it faces. At present, the challenges we face are much more pressing, and we should reply responsibly. As ocean explorers and conservationists, we’re a part of Antarctica2020 Champions, a worldwide marketing campaign working to guard Antarctica and its Southern Ocean for future generations.

Q: Inform us about your journey.

Ashlan: As Antarctic and Southern Ocean champions, we felt it was crucial for us to have the ability to converse in truth concerning the state of the area. We traveled for 5 days across the Antarctic Peninsula, visiting penguin colonies and glaciers, filming whales and seals, and doing testing on phytoplankton populations.


chinstrap penguin

A chinstrap penguin waddles onshore on Ardley Island, which sits within the Southern Ocean simply off the Antarctic Peninsula. Local weather change has fueled a succession of record-high temperatures on this area lately, stressing penguins and different species.
Philippe Cousteau

All of us have an unimaginable alternative to guard Antarctica’s Southern Ocean and provides our international ocean an opportunity to outlive the local weather disaster. In actual fact, we are able to’t clear up the local weather disaster and defend the well being of the ocean if we don’t defend Antarctica’s Southern Ocean. It’s that necessary.


Q: How so?

Philippe: The Southern Ocean is by far an important a part of our planet’s ocean system. It drives international ocean currents and is a main regulator of our international local weather. Its fertile waters unfold vitamins all through the worldwide ocean—and, by phytoplankton, present oxygen for all of us on Earth.

Q: How does the Southern Ocean match into the combat in opposition to local weather change?

Philippe: Local weather change is an ocean drawback. The poles are the primary drivers of world ocean currents that distribute warmth throughout the planet, and in the event that they soften sooner as a consequence of rising temperatures, then our climate patterns change, there’s extra drought in some locations and extra rain in others, and there’s a rise in storms and different phenomena that have an effect on the survival not solely of people however of all creatures on the planet.


If Antarctica adjustments, the entire world adjustments.

Weddel Whale Breach

A whale surfaces for air within the Southern Ocean off the Antarctic Peninsula, one of many fastest-warming areas on the earth. This warming is driving adjustments in sea ice protection, which impacts how and the place many wildlife species hunt, feed, and breed.
Philippe Cousteau

Q: In your travels all over the world, what adjustments have you ever seen which can be a results of the altering local weather?

Ashlan: No space of the world is secure from local weather change. From wildfires in California to rising sea ranges in Italy, excessive drought in India, and extreme flooding in Guatemala, our local weather is quickly altering with disastrous penalties. Our well being, security, and future are altering proper earlier than our eyes.

Q: In actual fact, information broke not too long ago that local weather change is driving a species of penguins from extra temperate zones emigrate to Antarctica.

Ashlan: Sure, however there’s hope. Tales like this, in addition to tales of utmost storms, wildfires, famine, and extra, are already serving to to deliver consciousness to the world. We work with younger folks by our group, EarthEcho International, and the excellent news is that the subsequent era is already conscious, fired up, and taking motion. They’re decided to forge a special future, a hopeful future. We see it each day, and it’s what offers us hope.

We all know not solely that nature can recuperate; it can also flourish if given the prospect. We have seen this unimaginable energy from the Mediterranean and Mexico to the Marshall Islands. All of us have the facility to make a greater world, however we should give nature the chance to take action. That’s why defending the Southern Ocean is so necessary and would deliver us nearer to the vital purpose of attaining 30 by 30 — the safety of 30% of the oceans and 30% of the land by 2030.

seal on iceberg

Seals sunbathe on an iceberg on the Antarctic Peninsula. A brand new marine protected space on this area—which the Fee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Dwelling Sources may set up—would profit a variety of wildlife.
Philippe Cousteau

Q: After your journey to the Antarctic Peninsula, you arrived in Chile. What position do you assume Chile ought to play within the protection of the Southern Ocean?

Philippe: Chile is already a frontrunner in Antarctic conservation as a co-sponsor for the proposed marine protected space (MPA) for the Antarctic Peninsula. Chile can proceed to be a world chief by making use of strain to different international locations in order that they approve not solely the institution of the safety of the Antarctic Peninsula, but in addition the opposite two proposed Southern Ocean MPAs, within the Weddell Sea and in East Antarctica. We’re optimistic that the brand new Chilean administration will take ocean conservation critically and make it the middle of its Turquoise International Coverage [a combination of “green” and “blue” policies to combat climate change and protect the ocean].

Q: Do you assume governments have finished sufficient to guard the Southern Ocean?

Ashlan: Chile and Argentina are main the best way to guard the waters across the Antarctic Peninsula. Institution of the three proposed MPAs within the Southern Ocean can be the best act of ocean conservation in historical past. We should demand and strain governments to guard these areas by the Fee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Dwelling Sources (CCAMLR). It’s extremely necessary that Chile and Argentina elevate the difficulty to the best degree on the local weather agenda.

A Message from Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau on World Penguin Day!

Q: Why do you assume we haven’t but seen a higher dedication in protection of the Southern Ocean?

Philippe: There are numerous competing pursuits for the sources of the Southern Ocean, corresponding to industrial fishing. We’d like all CCAMLR international locations to assist protections for the Southern Ocean—or, on the very least, agree to not block them. Governments all over the world want to acknowledge the significance of this area for our very survival.

We should defend the Southern Ocean and the species that thrive in its icy waters; it’s one of many final remaining wilderness areas on the earth. World leaders should have the diplomatic braveness to behave.

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