Papua New Guinea
Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of famed aquatic filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, tells LARA DAY about the fragile beauty of the world's oceans
Published on Aug 1, 2011
My Favorite Place
Country: Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea offers plenty of marine life.
Fabien Cousteau - I have been diving since I was four years old. The underwater world is truly my second home and I passionately want to safeguard it in any way that I can. Growing up, I was never pressured into the “family business” per se, but hearing both my grandfather’s and father’s stories, and living them in the flesh so to speak by going on expeditions with my family on my grandfather’s boats, Alcyone and Calypso, I was exposed early on to the unique beauty of our ocean planet, and it was impossible for me to turn away from its call.
One of the things I am most grateful for is that my career is my passion—I will be doing this until my last breath—and it has given me the opportunity to travel to some of the most exotic, remote places and see the most amazing creatures on the planet. While it’s hard to pick just one, my favorite place would have to be Papua New Guinea. I went there for the first time when I was seven and really connected with the people and was dazzled by the underwater fireworks display of life. Times since then have never disappointed. Although there are some signs of human impact these days, it is still a liquid paradise that needs to be preserved.
My grandfather often said that “people protect what they love.” The mission of my charity, Plant A Fish, is to help people learn more, and ultimately care more, by “getting wet” and directly involved in restoring and protecting distressed water bodies and marine life. In the past 50 years, almost sixty percent of our world’s fish stocks have been consumed, and less than ten percent of the big fish species are left in the world. Our aim is to restore key species in targeted, local areas that will make a global impact: oysters in New York Harbor, sea turtles in El Salvador, mangroves in South Florida and the Gulf, and corals and lobsters in the Maldives.
As travelers, we are faced with choices that impact the environment. Of course it is up to each of us whether the impact is positive or negative. To this I ask the question: Why would we not leave a place we visited and enjoyed in better shape than it was when we got there? After all, isn’t that the essence of why we chose to travel there in the first place? It’s time for us to stop living on the planet and start living with the planet.
Cousteau is an underwater filmmaker and oceanographer whose chrity, Planet A Fish (plantafish.org), aims to restore and protest distressed water bodies and marine life.
COUSTEAU’S TRAVEL TIPS
TOP DIVE SPOTS
“Some of my favorite diving sites include Fiji as well as the Maldives, Palau. The Arctic Circle is fantastic for its serene beauty and unusual species, and I’m particularly fond of the Mediterranean coast of France because it is what I consider home.”
"For those seeking an escape from the urban jungle, Nepal and Bhutan and their majestic flora and fauna will leave you feeling inspired and connected with our planet."
"I would highly recommend traveling to Tanzania if you've yet to experience a safari. The expeditions I've gone on there were some of the best."
"The Amazon Basin offers lush, dense jungles and ecological richness, which I've found simply awe-inspiring."
“For whales, I’d say visit the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary [hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov] in Maui.”