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Jacques-Yves Cousteau ...


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13 January 1969 (USA)  »

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The sort of nature documentary you'd never see today!
23 November 2015 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Back in the 60s and 70s, the Jacques Cousteau specials were seen as the best of the best when it came to documentaries. Jacques Cousteau was also seen as a wonderful groundbreaking environmentalist and researcher. However, when you see many of the earlier episodes of "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" today, you might be shocked. Instead of observing the sea life, they often chose to interact with it---in ways you'd never see today. For example, in one episode about otters, the crew befriends a young otter and it becomes habituated towards humans...and the epilogue said that this seal was soon killed by humans...very possibly because it no longer was afraid of them! In this episode, the crew are off the South African coast around the rough waters of the Cape of Good Hope*. There, for 'scientific reasons' they capture two young Cape Fur Seals (nicknamed 'Pepito' and 'Cristobal') and bring them aboard the ship to observe, interact with and befriend!! Again, you WON'T see a show like this today! Such interactions would be severely frowned upon and might also be illegal. What's worse is that one of the seals became so habituated towards humans that even after he escaped, he was easily captured by a local fisherman!

Overall, I's have to say that although the show is interesting, essentially capturing two small fur seals and making them pets for the crew was of dubious scientific value. Not among the better shows in the series due to its pseudo-scientific nature.

*By the way, diving conditions around the Cape are HORRIBLE...simply horrible. Visibility in the Bahamas is about 100+ feet--there about 2! The water is extremely cold and is inhabited with all sorts of nasty sharks (including Great Whites) which feed on seals...which look pretty much like a diver in a wet suit. I tried to dive there and immediately returned to the boat since conditions were so rough and dangerous. So, seeing the Calypso divers in the water, I have very high regard for their skills (and possible insanity). It is among the most dangerous diving you'll see the Cousteau folks do, though the show never really emphasized this.

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