Like his father, world-renowned undersea explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau has spent a lifetime exploring the oceans.
Equipped with an IMAX camera, he and his crew filmed 100 hours of underwater footage to produce a spectacular 40-minute documentary that reveals how the smallest life in the sea is vital to the survival of all life on the planet.
Jean-Michel Cousteau said there is still much to discover in the world's oceans. Using new technology that allowed him to record microscopic underwater creatures in slow motion 3-D, he was able to film 30 new species, many of which could not be seen with the naked eye.
“When you’re filming it, you bring it back to the boat where we are, and we have a 3-D screen and we can see, with glasses on, something we have never seen before. And sometimes we say, ‘We need to go back!’ " he said.
The results are spectacular. His documentary, "Secret Ocean 3D," presents a beautiful but often deadly world where even the tiniest of creatures is part of an elaborate food chain that ultimately sustains humans.
In the ocean, natural resources are not wasted. But runoff from human activity such as chemicals, heavy metals and plastic threaten to destroy this life, Cousteau warned.
He said this runoff is either decomposing or sinking and is affecting the foundation of life in the ocean, from the plankton all the way up to the fish we catch and eat. Cousteau said people are bringing back on land a lot of that pollution.
Cousteau is also a fervent proponent of desalination to create clean water for drinking and irrigation. He said fresh water makes up just 1 percent of the planet's supply, while oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth. He views desalinization as the only way we can hydrate a growing population worldwide.
But that can happen on a large scale only if we clean the runoff before it flows into the ocean, he said.
Desalination is expensive, but Cousteau stresses how such an industry can create millions of jobs the world over. He said water shortages are being felt all over the planet.
“If you go to the Gulf in the Middle East,” he said,” the fresh water that these people consume is more expensive than the oil they put in their cars.” He also said 4,000 to 5,000 children on the planet under age 5 are dying every day because they have no access to clean water or enough water.
Cousteau reveres his father, Jacques Cousteau, who pioneered modern underwater exploration. Still, he said, a great part of the ocean remains unexplored. He said there are thousands, maybe millions of species yet to be identified, and we have not determined how much pollution is affecting them.
"My dad used to say, 'People protect what they love,' and I would say, ‘If you don’t understand, how you can protect it?' ” he said.
Jean-Michel Cousteau created the Ocean Futures Society for that purpose. It is a nonprofit organization that aims to educate people about the significance and fragility of ocean life. Cousteau said films like "Secret Ocean 3D" are part of his mission.
“We want it to be entertaining, fun, beautiful, spectacular, and the mission is that there is only one water system on the planet and every plant, or animal, including humans depends on the quality of that water for the quality of our lives,” he said.