Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
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What Would Jacques Cousteau Say?

If the legendary explorer, innovator, filmmaker, author and environmentalist were alive today, what would he think of our treatment of the ocean? In the 13 years since Captain Cousteau passed away, we have seen coral reefs decline worldwide, trash accumulate in the sea, and one of the largest oil spills in history in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jean-Michelle CousteauI think the Captain would be angered and saddened by the state of his beloved underwater world. But his vision and determination to defend it reminds us of our responsibility: to continue to fight passionately to ensure the future of our fragile coastal and ocean places, using all means at our disposal. We have a large challenge ahead of us to convey that a healthy ocean is really important to a healthy economy, nation, and world.

With that charge in mind, on June 25, 2010 - 100 years after Captain Cousteau's birth - the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries celebrated "Cousteau Day" to honor the life and legacy of the man who inspired a generation of ocean leaders, scientists and conservationists. Staff at every site in the National Marine Sanctuary System donned Cousteau's signature red watch cap and paid tribute to him in their own way; some organized beach clean-up activities, while others hosted public events or screenings of his classic films. It showed everyone how the Captain's spirit is still alive and how he continues to stir our imagination, push our limits, and encourage our dreams.

The impact of our Cousteau celebrations reverberated beyond our sites. It was felt at Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2010, where scientists and conservation advocates, legislators and energy industry representatives met in Washington, D.C., to discuss the challenges and opportunities we all face in working toward a healthy ocean and a clean energy future. It was felt at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, California, which brought together thousands of people from around the world to watch inspiring ocean films and generate renewed enthusiasm for ocean conservation.

We are committed to celebrating Cousteau Day annually and carrying his spirit daily to remind ourselves and others of the enduring relevance of his work and teachings. Through the efforts described in this magazine, including oil spill response, scientific expeditions, the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program and many others, we strive to protect our underwater treasures and to honor Cousteau's legacy. And through special places, like our national marine sanctuaries, we can inspire everyone everywhere to follow the Captain's lead - I think he would be proud.

Daniel J. Basta, Director
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

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