For more than four decades, Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s beloved research vessel, Calypso, explored the world’s oceans. And on Monday night, we explored his journey from inventor and diving enthusiast to dedicated conservationist as we screened the U.S. premiere of the film L’Odysseé at our DC headquarters.

“He brought the marine world into homes across the globe—including my own—and helped people understand what made these ecosystems so special and worthy of protection,” said Carnegie President Matthew Scott at the start of the evening.

The film showcases many stunning locations, from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Oman and Antarctica, but focuses largely on Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s changing relationships with his first wife, Simone, and second son, Philippe, when his cinematic and television career took off.

After the screening Philippe Cousteau’s widow, Jan and son, Philippe Jr., took the stage along with marine biologist Rebecca Albright, a former Carnegie Global Ecology postdoc who is now a curator at the California Academy of Sciences.

All three repeatedly emphasized the importance of marine conservation efforts.

Plastic marine debris, which Philippe Cousteau Jr. called “terrifying,” was a common thread throughout the discussion. He and Albright urged people to stop using plastic bags, straws, and water bottles.

We must hold ourselves to high standards and not give ourselves “just this once” passes on this issue, Albright added. They both noted that while many biotechnology and other companies are working to fight plastics in the oceans, making a collective effort toward living sustainably on the Earth is the best solution.

Patrick Lachausseé, First Counselor at the French Embassy in Washington, DC, echoed this sentiment during a post-screening reception when he said: “working on behalf of the oceans, is working on behalf of humanity.” 

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