The official website of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Q&A with Third Generation Ocean Explorer and Environmental Advocate Fabien Cousteau

  Fabien Cousteau

Petty Officer First Class Rachel Polish is serving as a public affairs specialist in the Deepwater Horizon Response. She is a U.S. Coast Guard Reservist from District 11 in Alameda, Ca.

Growing up on the salt-stained decks of his famous Grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone, Fabien Cousteau was destined to follow in the family footsteps of exploring and tirelessly working to protect our planet’s immense and endangered marine habitats.  Diving since age four, Fabien was irrevocably imprinted with an unwavering appreciation for the wonder, beauty, and importance of our aquatic ecosystems to sustaining life on this big blue planet of ours.  An active writer, he is currently working on a children’s book trilogy. Fabien has been seen on network television, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and as a regular guest/contributor to NBC’s Today Show. Additionally, he is a sought after speaker at a variety of foreign and domestic environmental and water conferences.

Fabien took some time out of his busy schedule to share some insights with Petty Officer Polish.

Q. The situation in the Gulf is distressing.  As responders, we’re working hard combat its effects.  What is your organization doing to support the response?

A. Ocean Futures Society has been filming in the Gulf since April in an effort to document the short term and long term effects on people, wildlife and coastline of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Additionally, our team stands ready to help in any other way possible from an advisory role to helping with the cleanup.

Q. What impact are you seeing on the Gulf, as a result of the BP oil spill?

 A. The enormity of the Gulf oil disaster hasnt yet begun to be comprehended. We are just now starting to see the preliminary effects on people, coastline, and animals. The impact on smaller creatures, those so important to the food web, and the impact on the water column all the way to the bottom is hard to fathom because of the vastness and difficulty with which to reach and observe it. The impact may be felt on our plates and in our personal health for decades to come.

Q. Can the Gulf recover?

A. The good news is that the Gulf will eventually recover. The key word is EVENTUALLY. Whether this takes 10, 100, or 1,000 years is completely up to us. The sooner we stop the flow of crude the shorter the recovery time. To me, recovery includes putting more resources and people power on site, cleaning up the mess and saving affected species. It also means planning for future conservation, restoring the affected areas, protecting peoples jobs and rehabilitating the endemic species.

Q. What is your organization doing to open the dialogue about oceans and lessons the spill can teach us?

A. For three generations my family has been a voice for the oceans through documentaries such as Ocean Adventures, public speaking, educational programs such as Ambassadors of the Environment, and most recently through marine restoration initiatives such as Plant A Fish. Emphasizing that we are "all in the same boat,” our mission has always been to connect people with the oceans. We educate and empower the general public to act as stewards of our one and only life support system. The magnitude of the oil disaster in the Gulf has brought great public attention to the ocean, its fragility and the enormous impact we are having on it.

Q. What message would you send to the responders? 

A. Responders are at the front line of the battle with this immense catastrophe. We must put aside politics, the bureaucratic red tape, and the personal interests and wholeheartedly support their efforts in any way possible. We also must encourage more people to be trained and join in the cleanup if we are to imagine a brighter future for the Gulf. We have no planet "B." To give our children that which we have taken for granted, we must clean up our own mess first.